Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Consumerist Calls Verizon Droid Packaging "Cheap"

The Consumerist, the online extension of the Consumer Reports magazine, has an article up on their website titled, "Cheap Package Design Tricks People Into Dropping Motorola Droid On Floor". I didn't get to unbox the Verizon Droid that I'm currently testing. (The box, with the phone inside it, was handed to me horizontally.)

One customer is writes about their experience to The Consumerist:

"I got my new Verizon Motorola Droid last week. But when I opened the box, the Droid fell to the floor. Apparently I had the box turned the wrong way. There is now a dent in my phone. It's not a major dent. The phone still works. But it's still not cool that because of a design flaw, I have to live with a damaged phone right from the get-go."

Read the full post on The Consumerist website...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

AT&T Introduces the HP iPAQ Glisten World Phone

Last week I had posted that HP was still selling handheld PDAs running the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0 Classic operating system. Looks like this would be why - HP is working with AT&T to bring a new Windows Mobile powered smartphone to market.

AT&T and HP today [November 24, 2009] announced the upcoming availability of the new HP iPAQ Glisten, a feature-rich 3G world phone that meets the increasing demands of modern mobile professionals. AT&T’s first smartphone with an AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screen, the HP iPAQ Glisten is loaded with features tailored with the business power user in mind.

Featuring the Microsoft Windows® Mobile 6.5 operating system, the iPAQ Glisten offers a touch-friendly user interface and improved browser with Flash support. Connections to your favorite people, content and applications are a fingertip away on the redesigned Start Menu, and Internet Explorer Mobile supports the rich experiences that many Web pages offer for desktop computers.

“iPAQ Glisten adds to our innovative Windows Phone portfolio,” said Michael Woodward, vice president, Mobile Phone Portfolio, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “It meets the demands of our business customers while boasting a beautiful AMOLED touch screen and a full package of multimedia features.”

“The iPAQ Glisten packs a powerful punch with its multiple input methods, variety of connectivity options, and a familiar, consistent email experience that allows mobile professionals to connect with the people and information that matter most to them,” said Susan Macke, vice president, Marketing, Handheld Global Business Unit, Personal Systems Group, HP. “Our strategy for success in growing the iPAQ business and customer base is working with industry leaders, like AT&T and Microsoft, and leveraging our collective strengths in the business and prosumer markets.”

Pricing and availability

The HP iPAQ Glisten will be available in the coming weeks for $229.99 (receive a $50 AT&T Promotion Card with two-year agreement, smartphone data plan). The smartphone will be available through AT&T business services, HP corporate sales, small and medium business and consumer Websites at AT&T.com and HP.com as well as through third-party e-commerce sites.

More information on HP iPAQ Glisten is available at www.att.com/hpipaqglisten and www.hp.com/go/glisten.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Features of Documents To Go 2.0 for Android

Earlier this week as part of my Motorola Droid review, I purchased a copy of DataViz Documents To Go 2.0 Full Version. The Viewer Edition of Documents To Go only allows you to view Word and Excel documents.

The Full Version gives you the ability to view PowerPoint and Acrobat documents. Additionally, you gain the ability to edit and create Office documents, access password protected documents, update charts, and attach documents directly to an email message.

The full list of features included in Documents To Go 2.0 Full Version can be found on the DataViz website.

The purchase price for Documents To Go is $29.99. As far as I can tell, there is no direct upgrade path from previous editions of Documents to Go from other platforms. The good news is that shortly after registering the Viewer Edition, I received an email from DataViz stating that I could upgrade to the Full Version for the discounted price of $9.99. The email stated that the sale price was good until December 5, 2009. I don't know if this is a special offer for all customers or if it is part of a targeted email promotion for people who chose to register the Viewer Edition. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Watching Wife, Sister-In-Laws Playing with BlackBerry SMS

I find this really comical since my wife hated technology until she "discovered" Facebook. Now, just a few minutes ago, my wife and her sisters where swapping BlackBerry PIN numbers and where having "fun" trying to set it up.

Black Friday Technology Deals

Black Friday has become a crazy, insane, shopping frenzy that jump starts the holiday gift buying season and puts many retailer's balance sheets "in the black." Here are some deals that have caught me eye and might be of interest to you today as you build your plan of attack for tomorrow morning.

Amazon
Apple
Best Buy
  • Sprint Palm Pre (requires 2-year service agreement), $79.99
Staples
  • Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 3000 Keyboard & Mouse, $24.99 (online, phone only)
  • SanDisk 8GB Cruzer Micro Skin USB Flash Drive, $14.99 (online, phone only)
  • Jabra BT4010 Bluetooth Headset, $14.99 (online, phone only)
Target
  • Western Digital Elements 500GB Portable Hard Drive, $59.98 (in store only)
  • Western Digital Elements 1TB Desktop Hard Drive, $58.98 (in store only)
Verizon Wireless
  • BlackBerry Curve 8530, Buy One Get One (2-yr service contract, online, in store)

Happy Thanksgiving!


















Happy Thanksgiving everyone, from your friends at Smartphone Fanatics!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Third-Party Apps for Android

During my testing of the Motorola Droid smartphone, I've started looking through the Android Market, Google's answer to the Apple's iTunes App Store. Here is a list of free, or nearly free, applications that I have loaded on the Droid.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Verizon Motorola Droid in the House

If you where following my Twitter feed (@spf360) earlier today you already know that I'm now walking around with a Google Android 2.0 powered Motorola Droid. (To be fair, I also go to play with a Palm Pixi today too!)

How did I come to have a Droid you ask? Simple; I'm taking it out for a test drive as a possible replacement for the fleet of aging Palm Treo 700p and 755p smartphones. I really love my job!

So I have this phone for about a week. During that time I'll be playing with it see how it will stand up to everyday use by corporate office workers. Keep in mind that I'm going to be focusing on what an office worker will be doing with the Droid. So high on the list of things to test out is the browser, camera, native Gmail and attachment support, some of the location based services like GPS driving directions and traffic updates, geotagged photos, voice dialing, and maybe some thing non-work related like news apps, Facebook, and a few games.

The good news is that I've taken Thanksgiving week off which will give me plenty of time to play with this new "business tool."

If you have something that you want me to try out while I have the phone, leave me a note in the comments section and I will do my best to try things out and report back.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

HP iPAQ Handhelds Still Available


I didn't realize this, but HP is still selling handheld PDAs. Why? If you are one of the classic PDA fanatics (hey, we're all fanatical around here anyway) HP has you covered with two devices to choose from.

First up is the HP iPAQ 110 Classic. This $300 PDA sports Windows Mobile 6.0 "Classic" and comes packed with a 624MHz processor, 64MB of RAM, 256MB of Flash, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, a touch screen, and a SDIO card slot.

Want a little more horse power?

HP is also still selling he iPAQ 210 Enterprise Handheld for a mer $400. The 21o comes with 126MB of RAM, 256MB of Flash, 1 CFHC and 1 SDHC card slots, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi with WPA2 security.

Go ahead, get your PDA geek on over at the HP online store.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adobe: Flash Player Beta for Palm webOS Later This Year

PreCentral has some good news for Flash Player junkies: Adobe will have a beta release of their mobile player out this year!
“A prerelease version of Flash Player 10.1 is now available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems. A beta is expected to be available for Palm webOS later this year.”

Check out PreCentral.net for the full article...

[Via PreCentral.net...]

Monday, November 16, 2009

BlackBerry Curve 8520 Coming to AT&T

Earlier today, AT&T jumped on the BlackBerry Curve 8500-series bandwagon by announcing that the Curve 8520 was heading to AT&T's network "in the coming weeks" for $99.99 with a new or qualifying 2-year service agreement.

AT&T announced today it will introduce the best value in its BlackBerry smartphone portfolio with the addition of the BlackBerry®Curve™ 8520 from Research In Motion.

The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is a stylish, easy-to-use, compact smartphone offering the best value for consumer and business customers looking for BlackBerry service. The smartphone features a full QWERTY keyboard and touch-sensitive trackpad for easy typing and navigation, built-in Wi-Fi® and an advanced media player, plus dedicated media keys, smoothly integrated along the top of the handset, for a convenient way to control music and videos. The handset also provides global connectivity via phone, email, text, IM, picture messaging and social networking, with Facebook®and My Space applications preloaded.

The sleek, new device houses a high-resolution 320x240 display a 512 MHz processor, 256 MB of Flash memory, and a 2 megapixel camera equipped with video recording.
“AT&T was the first choice for BlackBerry in the U.S. and we continue to expand our offering of BlackBerry products to suit the different needs of business and personal users,” said Michael Woodward, vice president, Mobile Phone Portfolio, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “The BlackBerry Curve 8520 offers the best value by combining the essential features of a BlackBerry smartphone with access to AT&T’s network, which includes best coverage worldwide, as well as the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network.”

AT&T users of the new BlackBerry Curve 8520 can enjoy access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network with more than 20,000 U.S. hotspots — including approximately 7,000 Starbucks locations. As with all other Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry smartphones from AT&T, BlackBerry Curve 8520 users with a qualifying data plan, which includes all consumer BlackBerry unlimited data plans, get seamless and unlimited access to these domestic hotspots at no additional cost. When traveling outside the U.S., BlackBerry Curve 8520 users can enjoy the best coverage worldwide with wireless voice coverage in more than 215 countries and wireless data coverage in more than 185 countries.

Mobile users will enjoy great battery life, simultaneous voice and data capabilities when using Wi-Fi, and the ability to access up to 10 corporate and personal email accounts whether they are corporate or personal accounts. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 also affords users the ability to edit Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files with DataViz®Documents to Go®suite.
"The new BlackBerry Curve 8520 is a great choice for first-time smartphone users and offers easy-to-use messaging, social networking and multimedia features with a full-QWERTY keyboard that makes typing fast and comfortable," said Carlo Chiarello, vice president, product management, Research In Motion.

The BlackBerry Curve 8520 smartphone will be available in the coming weeks for $99.99 after mail-in rebate. (Pay $199.99 and receive $100 AT&T Promotion Card. 2-year agreement on a min. $69.99 plan required.) AT&T smartphones require the purchase of a monthly data plan. Other monthly charges apply.

For more information, visit the AT&T website.

Rumor: Multiple Versions of the Apple "iTablet" On Tap

AppleInsider has a new article up today talking about a new round of what I'm calling "iTablet silly season." According to AppleInsider, a number of tech stock analysts have received new information about Apple's unconfirmed tablet computer that is suppose to hit store shelves before the end of Q1, 2010.
"In a roundup of speculation on the still-unannounced device, CNNMoney.com spoke with a number of analysts about the forthcoming tablet, set to debut in the first quarter of 2010. Most analysts heaped praise on the mythical device, predicting that it will take on a number of markets and eliminate the need for numerous devices.

One analyst, Laura DiDio with ITIC, reportedly provided supposed specifics on the hardware. She said the device will sport a "high-end graphics card" that will offer picture at a "stunning resolution" greater than the iPhone and iPod touch. She also stated that the device will come in "several different models," suggesting that a 3G-enabled version would be tied to a contract with a wireless carrier such as AT&T."

You can read the full article on the AppleInsider website...

[Via AppleInsider.com]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Syncing Yahoo! Accounts With Palm Synergy




Over the weekend, Palm released the Palm webOS 1.3.1 update for the Palm Pre and also launched the Palm Pixi on Sprint's wireless network.

One of the new features of Palm webOS is the ability to sync your Yahoo! account with Synergy, Palm's wireless technology for collecting all of your contact, calendar, and email data and displaying it to you in a single, synchronized place that fits in your pocket.

I wanted to test out the new Yahoo! Synergy sync on my Palm Pre with webOS 1.3.1 installed. My first attempt didn't go so well because I was trying to log in to my Yahoo! account with the wrong password. My second attempt didn't work either, even after I confirmed that I had the correct password. I kept getting a message popping up on my Pre that my account password was incorrect. What gives?

Turns out that before you can use Synergy to sync with your Yahoo! account, you need to do two things first:

1. Upgrade your Palm Pre or Palm Pixi to webOS 1.3.1 if you don't already have it installed
2. Upgrade your Yahoo! calendar to their new beta Calendar

You can upgrade the operating system on your Pre or Pixi by using the Updates application on your smart(er)phone. To upgrade your Yahoo! Calendar, you need to access an upgrade page on the the Yahoo! website. (I was already logged into my Yahoo! account before I went to the Calendar switch website.)

After you have upgraded your Yahoo! Calendar, you should be all set to add your Yahoo! email account to the Pre or Pixi Email application. Once the Synergy connection has been established, webOS will begin to sync your Yahoo! email, contacts, and calendar. Additionally, afterSynergy has done its thing, you will be able to access your Yahoo! instant messaging account from Messaging application.

If you want to learn more about how Palm webOS Synergy works, you can read more on the Palm support website.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facebook for webOS Released, Updated for iPhone

This has turned out to be a Facebook-tastic weekend! Earlier today, Facebook 1.0.0 for Palm webOS was released for the Pre and Pixi smartphones.

The new Facebook client, written by Palm, became available from Palm's App Catalog today and requires that Pre and Pixi customers upgrade their phones to webOS 1.3.1 or later before it can be installed. The Palm webOS 1.3.1 update was made available to Pre customers on Sprint and Bell Canada yesterday; and should be available in the next few days for customers who purchase the new Palm Pixi smartphone starting tomorrow.

And Apple iPhone and iPod touch customers also got a little Facebook love this week with a minor bump to Facebook version 3.03 which includes bug fixes and adds Japanese and Chinese localizations. The update is available via iTunes App Store (iTunes link) from a Mac or PC. If you have the app installed on your iPhone or iPod touch, you can download and install the update over the air (OTA) using the App Store application on your device.

Sprint, Bell Pre Customers Get Palm WebOS 1.3.1 Update

On Friday evening, Palm released the Palm webOS 1.3.1 update for Sprint and Bell Canada Pre customers. The update arrives a few days earlier than expected. How every cool! Yahoo! users will be happy to learn that webOS 1.3.1 brings Synergy support for Yahoo! calendar and email.

Palm webOS 1.3.1 has the follow nuggets of goodness baked in:


Backup
  • Backup now includes browser cookies

  • Backup no longer saves online account passwords
Calendar
  • Yahoo! now appears as a Calendar synchronization account. Open Calendar > application menu > Preferences & Accounts > Add An Account > Yahoo!

  • All-day events that span more than one day now appear correctly in all Calendar views.

  • If you create a Google calendar event on the phone and the event location contains an apostrophe, the event now correctly synchronizes with Google online.
Camera
  • After taking a picture, if you tap the picture thumbnail in the lower-left corner of the camera screen, the picture now opens in full-screen view, not Thumbnails view. Making the back gesture returns you to the camera.
Contacts
  • Yahoo! now appears as a Contacts synchronization account. You can download contacts from Yahoo! online to the phone by opening Contacts > application menu > Preferences & Accounts > Add An Account > Yahoo!

  • Automatic contact linking based on name matches occurs only if the first and last name fields are populated with the same names. If either field is blank, the Contacts app no longer links the contacts. In addition, the Contacts app no longer automatically links contacts with the same name but with different suffixes (such as Jr. and Sr.).

  • If you set up Contacts to synchronize with a Google account, the account synchronizes only entries in Google's My Contacts, not all contacts.
Device Info
  • If you copy a music file to the phone and then delete it, Device Info now shows the correct amount of available memory after the deletion.
Email
  • Forwarded and replied-to messages include improved formatting, such as the original sender's email address in forwarded messages and correct inline image display in replies.

  • The list of mail types available in manual setup now includes Google Apps (Hosted Google Domains) and Yahoo! Small Business Domain email accounts. Selecting one of these types automatically enters the correct settings for these accounts.
Messaging
  • Yahoo! IM is available as an instant messaging account.

  • You can select a unique ringtone for new message alerts: Open Messaging > application menu > Preferences & Accounts > Sound > Ringtone.

  • You can forward a text or multimedia message by tapping the message > Forward.

  • You can copy the text of a text or multimedia message by tapping the message > Copy Text.

Phone
  • If the you are on a call, calendar notifications no longer partially cover the End Call icon.

Screen & Lock
  • A new Secure Unlock preference allows you to set the time interval the phone is idle before the phone locks, requiring you to enter the PIN/password to unlock the phone. This can be the same as or different from the interval after which the screen turns off. To set the preference: Open Screen & Lock > Lock After.
Web
  • Backup now includes browser cookies, so that after a restart, for example, if you stored your username and password on a web-based email site, you can continue to access the site without needing to log in.

  • If you tap to play a YouTube video embedded on a web page, the YouTube application launches and the video plays in the app.

There are some other interesting changes in the Palm webOS operating system. The first is that you can now press and hold the Orange key and tap an application icon to pull up information about the application. Pressing and holding down the Power button now gives you more control over what the device does: turn Airplane mode on or off or Restart or Shutdown/Swap Battery.

To read the complete list of feature updates included in Palm webOS 1.3.1, visit the Palm website. The 1.3.1 update is reported to become available for Europen GSM Pre customers by the end of November.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Is the Time Right for a Palm webOS Foleo?

I've been thinking a lot about Palm's discontinued Foleo mobile companion lately. It was two years ago, this past September, that Palm chose to discontinue the Foleo so that the company could focus their energy on the development of the Palm Pre and their new mobile operating system, Palm webOS. Looking forward, one has to wonder whether or not Palm will go back and redesign the Foleo for use with Palm webOS.

The Foleo was conceived by Jeff Hawkins, the father of the Palm Pilot. The Foleo was to be a "mobile companion" for Palm's Treo line of smartphones; specifically the Windows Mobile Treo 750 and the Palm OS Treo 755p. Palm had signaled that the Foleo could be opened up to support other smartphones, including the BlackBerry, at some later date after it's initial release. Unlike the Treo smartphones it was designed to work with, the Foleo was to run a completely new OS, simply called Foleo OS; meaning that Palm and their third-party developers would have to support three discrete mobile operating systems (Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Foleo OS). As you might have guessed, for such a small company, developing and maintaining three operating systems is not a position you would want to be in.

With the Foleo practically ancient history in the mobile computing field, why bring it up now? The answer is because Palm has made some changes to their mobile operating system line up. Palm has stated that they will no longer be releasing devices running Palm OS or Microsoft's Windows Mobile. That leaves Palm with only their latest software platform, Palm webOS, to be used with new products. Since Palm webOS is based on a Linux kernel, and uses web technologies for displaying the user interface, Palm's new platform could be used to drive a number of devices; not just smartphones.

From the beginning, I always thought that the Foleo's hardware was solid and well though out. I had a chance to play with the Foleo during one of Palm's sneak peek events. The hardware felt sturdy and up to to the challenges of day-to-day bumps and knocks. The Foleo had a bright 10-inch screen and a full size keyboard that I was able to touch type on. It also featured flash memory storage and a SDHC card slot for memory expansion. USB, video, and audio out ports rounded out the hardware. Comparing it to an Acer Eee PC or a Dell Mini 9, the Foleo's hardware just felt better. (To be fair, the Foleo was to be almost twice as expensive than the Eee PC. Cost drives the quality of build materials. Cost vs. function is one of the main reasons why Apple choses to not release a Mac OS X netbook.)

So that brings us back to software. In 2007, Foleo OS didn't make sense for a small company trying to contain their software development and support costs. In 2009, Palm has decided to focus their efforts around Palm webOS. A Palm netbook, powered by webOS, which has the ability to synchronize data and applications with Palm's other webOS devices, the Pre and Pixi smartphones, could be a much more powerful device than the original Foleo.

In conclusion, a new Palm Foleo would have several advantages to it. First is that it would run the same mobile operating system as Palm's smartphones. This would benefit both Palm and third-party developers since there would only be the one OS to write applications for. Secondly, in my opinion, the original Foleo hardware was well designed, and with some tweaks to the processor, memory, and video systems, would be up to the tasks expected of any of today’s netbooks. Lastly, the new management team at Palm is much better at product execution than the management team that was leading the company in 2007.

How about it Foleo Fanatics? With all the changes that have taken place at Palm since the fall of 2007, does it make sense for Palm to take another look at the Foleo? Leave your comments below.