Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some cool new cases for your new white iPhone 4

So you bought or are going to buy the new white iPhone 4 that was released today? If you're considering wrapping your cute new phone in a case, let me suggest a few.

If you're into cases that will power your phone as well as protect it, which I like, click here for one of the older reviews.

Here's a few fun cases I've tried recently for Steve Jobs' favorite cell phone.

XtremeMac: I tried two from this company. One is a neat little leather sleeve, almost like a soft wallet the iPhone slides into. This one won't cover up your new beauty and gives you complete access when you pull it out.

The other was a rechargeable battery case. Like many of the others, I liked the universal mini-USB plug which opens up a lot more recharging options that Apple's proprietary 30-pin white connector. But this case tended to get a little warm and I didn't like the plasticky feel so much. The LED lights on the bottom to show how much charge is left and the on/off switch were features I've found in similar cases. Needed but not groundbreaking.

Verdict: the leather sleeve, while not original was cool. There are better battery cases out there. See my earlier review.

Ballistic HC: Very similar to the Otterbox Defender series, this case gives you major protection. If you had a younger teen or a preteen with an i4, this is the case I'd want them to have. It's got a holster to attach to the belt and a soft silicone layer to wrap around the phone and then a tough plastic outer layer. In all, you get five layers of protection, including a plastic liner for the glass.

It's not as bulky as you might think, and if you ever -- ever -- dropped your i4, this and the Otterbox are the cases you'd want it to be in.

Verdict: Winner.

Otterbox Reflex Series: A new case from Oterbox that is form fitting and snaps on in two pieces and gives easy docking access. It doesn't have the soft feel of some of the other cases in this line. I'm not a big fan of the plasticky feel (is plasticky a word?), but it gets the job done.

Verdict: OK. Good enough.

iSkin Revo4: Ooh, love the soft silicone skin and the yellow and black color scheme. It covers the buttons but gives easy access, same with the docking port. iSkin says it provides some shock and moisture protection too (it comes with a screen cover) but I wouldn't test it. But this case is antimicrobial. Bonus points for that.

Verdict: Solid pick.

iChair: My favorite current iPhone case has a little docking stand -- ala the HTC series of 4.3 inch Android phones. This allows you to prop i4 up in landscape or portrait mode. You can watch a movie, check email, even make a call on speaker much easier. I was in Subway last week and sat mine up and read the Observer online.

The two-piece case slides on easily. It's got a soft shell inside and a (not too) hard shell outside. It feels good in the hands and it's thin and doesn't bulk up the skinny phone. Right now, this is one of the best cases for any phone I've tried (along with the higher-end Otterboxes). And you can even buy a version with a white top portion.

Verdict: Big Winner.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DirecTV, Dish deliver first run movies faster than ever. Is that good for the business?

Remember when you used to have to wait awhile for a first-run movie to be available via a PPV movie service?

Those days are gone.

DirecTV recently launched "Home Premiere" which will bring first run movies to its customers 60 days after they are released in theaters. Currently, DirecTV has Cedar Rapids and Just Go With It available to customers for $29.99 for a 48-hour rental.

Is $30 too much? Could you wait another four weeks for the Blu-Ray? Could you go to the $1 (or $2) movie instead? Those are individual questions, but at least having the option is intriguing, especially if you have a family. Have you tried taking, say, your family of four to the local metroplex? It can get expensive quickly, and that's before you buy a $5 soda.

For its part, Dish will premiere the new film Passion Play on the same it hits theaters May 6. The film is about an angel under the thumb of a ruthless gangster. It will be $5.99 for HD and $4.99 for standard def.

The film stars Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox ("Transformers" and "Jennifer's Body).

Wait for white iPhone is over. It hits stores tomorrow

Apple made it official today, announcing that the long-awaited white iPhone 4 will hit U.S. stores tomorrow. It'll be at Apple's online store, at Apple retail stores and at select resellers (think Best Buy) plus at AT&T and Verizon wireless stores.

“The white iPhone 4 has finally arrived and it’s beautiful,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “We appreciate everyone who has waited patiently while we’ve worked to get every detail right.”

White models of iPhone 4 will also be available in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and the UK.

Suggested retail price isCUPERTINO, California—April 27, 2011—Apple® today announced that the white iPhone® 4 will be available beginning tomorrow. White iPhone 4 models will be available from Apple’s online store (, at Apple’s retail stores, AT&T and Verizon Wireless stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers.

“The white iPhone 4 has finally arrived and it’s beautiful,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “We appreciate everyone who has waited patiently while we’ve worked to get every detail right.”

White models of iPhone 4 will be available in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and the US, beginning Thursday, April 28 and in many more countries around the world soon. White iPhone 4 will be available for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model and $299 (US) for the 32GB model with a new two year agreement.

With rumors that the new iPhone 5 is coming sometime in the next six to eight months, I wonder how sales will go for the white model. Apple appears to have addressed the tricky proximity sensor, which was more problematic for many users than the over-reported antenna issue. The sensor would cause calls to switch to FaceTime mode or other things like hang-up when users put the phone to their ears.

The latest on iPhone: White one on sale this week, T-Mobile version being tested, and is it really tracking you?

Busy week in iPhone land.

Let's review.

The new much-ballyhooed white version is widely expected to hit U.S. retail stores this week. Already, Macrumors is reporting that white iPhone 4s are being sold overseas.

Of note, the proximity sensor, which has caused many problems with people accidentally hanging up calls or starting other functions when pressing the phone against their faces, has been changed. It's now larger and placed above the earpiece.

Of course, I'm not sure I'd be buying a nearly year-old phone now with a new one almost assuredly coming to us by fall (at the latest).

NEXT: Tech sites are reporting that Sharp has been hired to manufacture new poly-silicon displays for the sixth generation iPhone in 2012. The technology allows electrical components to be integrated with the glass surface and is also thinner and lighter than current screens.

NEXT: A new federal lawsuit targets Steve Jobs' favorite company over privacy concerns. Reports say the iPhone tracks location information for up to a year. Jobs sent an email to a customer who asked about this and said the claim that Apple is secretly tracking customers is "false."

NEXT: Boy Genius Report says that Apple is currently testing an iPhone that would work on T-Mobile's network. Of course, AT&T is trying to buy T-Mobile and AT&T carries the iPhone, but this move could lead to iPhone hitting T-Mobile much sooner, maybe sometime this year. Could be good for customers who want to jump on T-Mobile's fast 4G network (OK, it's really, really fast 3G) and take advantage of T-Mobile's cheap(er) fees.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nintendo to launch new Wii HD console system in 2012

The hottest rumor in the tech industry was confirmed by Nintendo Monday: we can expect a new Nintendo Wii unit, that will support high definition graphics, next year.

The current Wii unit, which was a smashing success, has sold more than 86 million units in five years. Of late, though, the Wii-mote motion sensor technology that helped fuel its popularity has been copied and surpassed by Microsoft (hands free Kinect) and Sony (PlayStation Move), and both companies offer HD graphics via their current console systems.

Nintendo announced via a news release that it will demo a playable version of the system at the E3 Expo June 7-9 in Los Angeles. Bloomberg quoted Nintendo President Satoru Iwata as saying the system will “propose a new approach to home video game consoles.”

Satoru said “it’s difficult to make 3D images a key feature, because 3D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet.”

So where does that leave us?

Well, along with the hot rumors of Nintendo’s new system have been similar rumors of a new Nintendo game controller. Just as it set the industry on its ear with the Wii-mote -- which allows you to use it to mimic real-life motions like throwing a ball or swinging a club -- several tech sites have reported on a new 8-button controller.

The new controller, reports say, would be 6.2 inches big -- bigger than those XL Android cell phones out there -- have two analog sticks and a camera. The new system would support the new controller as well as the old games and old Wii-mote joystick.

Using that big controller, gamers would be able to send and receive wireless data to the console, snap photos to put into games. It’s similar to what we saw years ago with Sega’s Dreamcast system. Imagine playing, say, Madden football and instead of the game play options coming up on the screen, allowing you and your opponent to see them, they would only pop up on your controller.

Having that kind of depth would add true realism to all games, and it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that the controller could be a handheld gaming device of its own, though that might compete with the company’s 3DS hand held system.

And where does that leave Sony and Microsoft? The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 are getting a little long in the tooth now and there’s been no official word on an update. Rumor mills have speculated Microsoft plans to support 360 until 2015 but that doesn’t mean it will wait to produce a new console until then.

I can’t imagine those two giants would let Nintendo hit the market with a new whiz-bang gadget and get major developers behind them, delivering versions of games that Sony and Microsoft couldn’t match.

Should be an interesting next 12 months in the gaming industry.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Want to know how much your co-workers make? Just click here

A new online site, called SalaryShare, claims it can help you find out how much your co-workers make. This assumes, of course, that they are honest.

It works like this: you create a "pool" on the website and send the link to a few people who will anonymously disclose how much they make. Only people in your pool can see the link to the results. And you can do this with anyone really, even your social friends.

Of course, do it at your own risk.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Verizon Wireless providing free phones to domestic violence victims

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and Verizon Wireless has a program called Hopeline, that provides refurbished phones for domestic violence victims.

The company has also partnered with the National Network for its Let Your Heart Rule program against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Nice to know the wireless companies do more than charge us every month.

Sprint launches its own mobile music service, Sprint Music Plus

Sprint has launched its own music service today, dubbed Sprint Music Plus. Users will access the application via their Android Sprint phones or at

Next month the service will come to Sprint's Blackberry and Java-based phones.

Via the service, users will be able to:

-- Create music playlists.
-- Assign ringback tones to play for different callers and times of day.
-- Search for music by artist, title or keyword.
-- Organize full tracks/albums by artist, genre and custom playlists using the music library manager.
-- Preview content – sample millions of music tracks and tones, which are updated daily.
-- Get new music recommendations based on their musical tastes.

Individual song purchases will start at 69 cents and go $1.29. You can also buy a song, a ringtone of that song and the ringback tone in one click. Users will be charged via their Sprint bill.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Want more Masters coverage? Hit mobile phone, DirecTV and the 'Net

If you want to see more Masters than ESPN and CBS can offer you this week, there's plenty of ways to get more.

DirecTV is offering multiple channels of coverage on Channels 701-707, all for free for the satellite company's customers. Coverage, which will also be included in HD, is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. toda (Thursday 4/7)

There will be two featured groups shown, so if you want to follow, say, Tiger or Phil, step for step, you can do that. There will be extended hours of coverage outside the TV windows on ESPN and CBS. You can also choose a channel that will focus only on two holes on the back 9.

DirecTV will also offer expanded players stats, on-demand links to highlights and video tours of each hole at Augusta National.

DirecTV will also have 3D coverage on ESPN 3D (Channel 106). To get the 3D broadcast, you'll need glasses, and compatible equipment.

Finally, the Masters Mosiac Channel will allow viewers to see multiple feeds on one screen, as DirecTV does with its popular NFL Sunday Ticket package.

-- Online, and will offer three channels of coverage: live streaming video of the 11th, 12th and 13th holes; live streaming video from 15 and 16; and the featured group coverage.

Here are CBS start times:
Featured Group*

Thursday, April 7: 12:00 PM - Completion of play
Friday, April 8: 12:00 PM - Completion of play
Saturday, April 9: 12:00 PM - Completion of play
Sunday, April 10:12:00 PM - Completion of play

Amen Corner*

Thursday, April 7: 10:45 AM - 5:45 PM
Friday, April 8: 10:45 AM - 5:45 PM
Saturday, April 9:12:00 PM - 5:45 PM
Sunday, April 10: 11:45 AM - 5:45 PM

15 & 16*

Thursday, April 7: 11:45 AM - 5:45 PM
Friday, April 8: 11:45 AM - 5:45 PM
Saturday, April 9: 1:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Sunday, April 10: 12:45 PM - 6:30 PM

-- Finally, you can get a Masters App on your Android phone or iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The Android app will only pass through scores. The iDevice app will pass through video feeds from Amen Corner, holes 15 and 16 and from the first featured group. Users can access this over 3G or Wifi.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Analysts: Xoom sales on target, but slow; iPad is selling big numbers

Deutsche Bank analysts say the Motorola Xoom tablet has sold about 100,000 copies in its first two months, getting the number by looking at how many people were using the Xoom's Honeycomb operating system via Android's developer side.

Deutsche Bank analysts believe the Xoom sales figures are line with their projections of 50,000 in the first quarter and 150,000 in the second.

Meanwhile, a Dow Jones analyst, Shara Tibken, said that Apple sold 300,000 iPad 2s of its first day of availability.

Taiwanese industry pub DigiTimes said Apple has shipped about 2.5 million iPad tablets to date and should sell about 4 million per month between now and June.