Thursday, September 23, 2010

WSJ reports Verizon to offer tiered data soon; Verizon CEO talks Apple

A new Wall Street Journal article says Verizon plans to offer tiered data plans soon, much like rival AT&T.

AT&T sells 200 megabytes of data per month for $15. It sells 2 gigs of data for $25. Prior to the change this year, AT&T offered unlimited data for $29.99, a requirement for its most popular cellphone, Apple's iPhone.

At an investor conference Thursday, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said Verizon's plan might be different than AT&Ts.

I think AT&T's cheap plan doesn't offer enough. The $15 should be for at least 500 MB or even 1 gig, especially with more data hungry apps coming on board, like video conferencing and Netflix streaming. Customers who cross their thresholds will get hit with penalty bills.

We'll see what Verizon does, as I figure this will be tied to its next generation network, called LTE, that it plans to deploy later this year. The "Long Term Evolution" network should deliver faster speeds, better connectivity and a smoother experience, but require new hardware.

Also in the new WSJ article, it says Verizon hopes the new network spurs suppliers, including Apple, to build product for Verizon.

"At some point, Apple will get with the program," the WSJ quotes Seidenberg as saying at the conference, but when it pressed him to comment on whether Apple would come in 2011, Seidenberg said, "I can't speak for Apple."

Interestingly, Seidenberg seemed to back his company's strong selection of Android phones, but still expressed desire in iPhone, when he again talked about how the new LTE network would attract suppliers.

"We don't feel like we have an iPhone deficit," Seidenberg said in the WSJ artcile. "We would love to carry it, but we have to earn it."

QUEASY VIDEO ALERT: God bless the TV tower worker who climbs 1700 feet

This is a job I don't want.

When something goes wrong in a TV tower, someone has to climb way way up -- higher than the Empire State Building up -- to fix the darned thing.

If you can get through this video without making faces and turning away, well, you're better than me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

DirecTV offers free preview of NFL Sunday Ticket

DirecTV subscribers can get a free preview of the satellite provider's popular NFL Sunday Ticket package. The package, which costs $300 (payable in five $60 installments) delivers out-of-market NFL games each week throughout the season.

The free preview begins at 1 p.m. today on Channels 701-717 and includes the Red Zone Channel, which shows you when teams are about to score, plus the Mix Channel which shows eight games on one screen.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Best cell phone quality in the area? Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, survey says

The latest JD Power Survey on Wireless Call Quality was released today and in our Southeast region, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint tied for the top spot.

The study measures wireless call quality, based on seven problem areas that impact overall carrier performance: dropped calls; static/interference; failed call connection on the first try; voice distortion; echoes; no immediate voicemail notification; and no immediate text message notification.

Verizon Wireless also won for the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and West regions. U.S. Cellular Corp. was No. 1 the North Central region. T-Mobile was no. 1 in the Southwest.

AT&T was the only carrier to not garner a top placing in any of the six regions.

AT&T released a letter to consumers earlier this week assuring them of quality upgrades in this region (click here to see it).

TaylorMade introduces new golf irons on live webcast

TaylorMade golf used a live webcast to introduce its new brand of golf irons Thursday.

Nice innovation from a company known for its innovation.

The new Burner 2.0 irons come about 18 months after the original model. The new ones are designed to help golfers hit the ball further, a problem for most of us, as well as making the golf clubs feel better when striking the ball, a problem with clubs that are designed for distance.

"We've succeeded at creating a better-performing iron with the Burner 2.0, which is just as long, easier to play and more refined in its feel and sound," said Bret Wahl, senior director of research and development for irons, wedges and putters. "Every Burner 2.0 iron is better than its predecessor and, when compared against the longest, best-selling iron we've ever made, that says something truly significant."

The Burner 2.0's two-toned "Burner Black" PVD finish is more durable and resists glare. TaylorMade claims its used improved weight distribution to help golfers launch the club higher easier, while still allowing golfers to be able to "work" the ball. That's golf speak for making it curve one direction or the other.

Each iron has a different face thickness, which allows for more control in shorter irons and ease with hitting longer irons. The top of the clubs are also of varying thickness. Shorter clubs will look thinner and longer clubs will be larger, making them easier to hit, and inspiring more confidence when looking down.

The new irons come with lightweight shafts to help increase swing speed. There's an 85-gram steel or 65-gram graphite shaft. A women's version is also available with a 55-gram shaft.

Multiple flexes are offered. Steel sets are $699, graphite $899. These go on sale Oct. 8.

We hope to test these and report back on what we find, but from the literature, they sound like a winner.

Click here for a demo video

TaylorMade golf to launch new product on the web at 3 p.m.

A few hours from when I write this, TaylorMade Golf Company, one of the industry tech leaders in product innovation, will introduce a new product via worldwide webcast. It will go live at 3 p.m. today

To see the new product, go to taylormadegolf and load the video presentation which should last 10 minutes. Be interesting if more companies did this.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

ATT Wireless open letter of assurance to area customers

AT&T Wireless sent out a letter to Carolinas-area customers Wednesday night assuring them of coverage upgrades. The letter talks about AT&T's continuing plan to improve service.

If that sounds like a move to make sure you stick around once the iPhone gets gone, well, you thought what I thought.

Popular rumors, from credible news sources, have the iPhone going to Verizon in January. While that will surely hurt Android sales -- and I do believe many Verizon customers got tired of waiting for iPhone and found a decent alternative -- it could also hurt AT&T, which has experienced exponential growth thanks to the little handset from the guys in Cupertino, California.

Here's the text of the letter.

"I am writing to thank you for choosing AT&T for your wireless service, and to update you on exciting plans we have to make your wireless experience even better.

You already know that AT&T covers 97% of all Americans. And as an AT&T customer, you have access to the nation's fastest mobile broadband network; a mobile broadband network that allows you to talk and browse the web at the same time; and seamless access to over 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots - more than any other U.S. wireless provider.

But you may not know the extent of our plans to improve your experience. In 2010 alone, we plan to invest between $18 and $19 billion in our wireless and wireline networks across the country. In fact, we've invested more in our networks over the last three years than any of our U.S. competitors. We've already upgraded our cell sites to enable faster mobile broadband speeds when paired with expanded backhaul, and we plan a similar upgrade at the end of the year that will enable even faster speeds.

We're not stopping there. We are also adding thousands of new cell sites, expanding mobile broadband coverage to millions of customers, installing enhanced fiber backhaul, and increasing the capacity of our data network. Not only do these enhancements provide a better experience today, but they also enable a seamless migration to our next generation of mobile broadband - LTE.

What this means to you is simple: better coverage where it matters most, and fast access to information on the go.

Your satisfaction is always our number one goal. If you have any needs or questions about what AT&T can do for you, I invite you to stop by your local AT&T store, visit, or come tell us what you think at

Again, thank you for being our customer.


Alison Hall
Vice President and General Manager
AT&T - Carolinas Region"

Apple releases new iPhone software with features, bug fixes

Apple today has released its iOS 4.1 software for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Users can download the release by connecting their iPhone to their computer and visiting iTunes.

The new iPod Touch units, recently redesigned, are shipping with the new hardware.

iOS 4.1 fixes promixity sensor bugs, bluetooth issues and a problem where the old 3G iPhone slowed down with the new operating system. Users will be able to upload HD video over WiFI, rent TV shows and Apple's Game Center debuts for supported devices (no iPhone 3G here guys).

A new feature is High Dynamic Range Photos. Users tap a button and the camera takes three photos in rapid succession. One will be shot in normal exposure plus one that is underdeveloped and one over exposed. It then combines the three to produce an "HDR" photo. The normal and HDR photos are both kept in the camera roll.

GameCenter is used for multi-player games and allows you to challenge friends or auto-match you with players. Gamers can compare scores and see popular games.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Get ready for Google TV this fall

Speaking at a tech conference in Berlin today, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said consumers can expect Google TV this fall. This announcement comes less than a week after Apple introduced its new Apple TV, a $99 set-top box that will play rental movies and TV shows from the internet (as well as allow purchases through a computer).

Schmidt, who formerly sat on Apple's board of directors, said Google TV service will be free. He added the company was working with content providers as well as electronics manufacturers to put Google software into new TV products.

Sony already has announced it would work with Google, delivering a line of TVs with the software pre-installed, and Samsung is also studying the possibility.

So what is Google TV?

It is software, based on the popular technology in the Android phones, that integrates with your current TV offerings, from satellite or cable, and allows you, in theory, to search for channels, shows and actors. It also includes a web browser to allow you to check emails or surf the web on your 50-inch flat screen (which some PlayStation 3 owners with a keyboard know is kind of a cool thing).

You'll also be able to watch YouTube or watch programming from sites like Hulu, which delivers a lot of broadcast content on demand via the internet.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Samsung drops Galaxy tablet. Is it an iPad killer?

Samsung's new Galaxy Tablet was introduced at a news conference in Berlin Thursday. It's a 7-inch tablet running the latest Android OS, Froyo 2.2.

The machine has 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and does Flash, unlike the Apple iPad. The Galaxy Tab also, unlike iPad, comes with a 3-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and an LED flash. Up front there's a 1.3-megapixel camera to allow videochatting.

“Samsung recognizes the tremendou sgrowth potential in this newly created market and we believe that the Samsung Galaxy Tab brings a unique and open proposition to market," said JK Shin, President and Head of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “The Tab has been designed to enable consumers to maximize their online experience wherever that may be.”

Samsung has its own books, movies and music apps, the Readers' Hub and the Media Hub and the Music Hub.

The tablet is expected in the U.S. "in the coming months," Samsung said. It will launch in Europe in a few weeks.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

NBA2K11 footage with Michael Jordan in the game

If this 10 minute peek is any indication, 2KSports is putting together one of the best sports games, well, ever with its NBA 2K11 with Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan on the cover and in the game.

This clip is a recreation of the 92 NBA Finals between Jordan's Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trail Blazers. It's accurate even down to the shooting motions and Jordan's one-handed leg kicking slam.

Apple introduces Apple TV, new iPods, fixes iPhone issues

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a new line of iPods Wednesday and a new $99 Apple TV. He also introduced a new operating system for Apple's mobile devices that will correct issues with iPhone 4 and with older iPhones running slowly when using the new operating system.

The new iPod Touch will add all the popular features on iPhone 4, including the "Retina" display and FaceTime video conferencing. Apple TV will let users rent movies and TV shows and stream content from Netflix and YouTube.

Also a new version of iTunes will be launched with a Facebook-like social intergration app.

A quick rundown of the day.

New iPods Launched

Jobs said the company has sold 275 million iPods in its history.

Every iPod is being redesigned and will be available next week. Pre-orders will be taken today.

The new iPod Touch is now the most popular iPod.

"A lot of people call it an iPhone without the phone," Jobs said.

The new iPod Touch is even thinner than the old version, has the Retina Display and runs the Apple A4 chip, just like the iPhone 4. It has 3-axis Gyro plus a front facing camera with FaceTime over WiFi. A rear camera has also been added with HD video recording.

The new touch will have 40 hours of music playback. It's $229 for 8 gigs, $299 for 32 gigs and $399 for the 64 gig version.

More than 1.5 billion games and entertainment titles have been downloaded to the Touch.

-- The new iPod Shuffle is smaller than last year and has buttons, voiceover and playlists. It's about the size of the palm of your hand. It'll speak through your playlists, Genius mixes and the Voice over will tell you song and artist and even let you know when the battery needs charging. The shuffle is good for 15 hours per charge, Jobs said, and comes in five colors. Price is $49.

The new iPod Nano is 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter and loses its click wheel. It's square shaped instead of rectangular. It uses the same multi-touch as iPhone. It has a clip on it to attach to your clothes. It's got FM radio, the Nike pedometer and 24 hour audio battery life. This comes in six colors. Price is $149 for 8 gigs; $179 for gigs.


Jobs said 11.7 billion songs have been downloaded from iTunes, more than 100 million movies, 450 million TV episodes and 35 million books.

Jobs announced iTunes 10, the latest version, Wednesday with a new logo. It launches today.

What's new?

The interface has changed and Apple has added "Ping" to iTunes, a social network for music. Ping is available on computer, iPhone and iPod Touch.

"It's sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes," Jobs said. "It's a social network all about music and its' built right into iTunes."

Users can follow favorite artists and friends and find out what's popular. Simply click the Ping link in iTunes. A top 10 chart of songs and albums is customized for each user based on what their friends and favorites are downloading.


The old Apple TV was $229. The new one is $99. It'll launch in four weeks with pre-ordering starting today.

Introduced in September 2006, Jobs said Apple has not sold a lot of its Apple TV hardware, but the users who use them tell Apple they love them. Jobs said users said they wanted Hollywood movies and TV shows.

"They don't want amateur hour," Jobs said. "And they want everything in HD."

Jobs said consumers don't want a computer attached to the TV or to have to manage storage. "Your hard disc starts to fill up, what are you gonna do?" Jobs said.

The new Apple TV is about 1/4th the size of the current Apple TV. You can hold it in your hand. It's a small black box. It has a power cord, HDMI, and an ethernet cable. WiFi is built-in. It comes with a remote.

Users will rent all their content and not purchase anything. The device will stream content from your computer with no synching required.

First run movies will cost $4.99, on the day and date they are released on DVD. Renting HD TV shows will be 99 cents. These shows will be commercial free. Only ABC and Fox are on board first. Jobs said he expected the other major studios to come on board soon.

Netflix subscribers can stream content on Apple TV, Flickr, mobileme or YouTube.


-- Apple released its new operating system, iOS 4.1 that fixes promixity sensor bugs, bluetooth issues and a problem where the old 3G iPhone slowed down with the new operating system. Users will be able to upload HD video over WiFI, rent TV shows and Apple's Game Center will debut. The new system debuts next week and is a free download via iTunes for iPod Touch and iPhone.

A new feature is High Dynamic Range Photos. Users tap a button and the camera takes three photos in rapid succession. One will be shot in normal exposure plus one that is underdeveloped and one over exposed. It then combines the three to produce an "HDR" photo. The normal and HDR photos are both kept in the camera roll.

GameCenter is used for multi-player games and allows you to challenge friends or auto-match you with players. Gamers can compare scores and see popular games.

-- Jobs offered a sneak peek at iOS 4.2 for iPad that will come out November, as a free update for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. "It's bringing everything to iPad," Jobs said including folders, GameCenter, HDR photos and wireless printing, a much requested app.

A new feature, AirPlay, will also debut. It'll allow users to stream audio, video and photo to other devices. Users with an iPad or iPhone can stream content to Apple TV.

You can watch a movie or look at photos on iPhone or iPad and watch the rest on your flatscreen via Apple TV.

-- Apple has shipped 120 million iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch products in four years, Jobs said. He said Apple is activating about 230,000 new iOS devices every day. That figure doesn't include upgrades.

-- There are 200 apps per second are being downloaded from Apple's App Store, and more than six billion total in its history. There are more than 250,000 apps currently in the store, 25,000 are iPad exclusive.

-- Jobs said Apple Stores draw more than one million visitors several days per month. He said more than half the people buying Mac computers are new users.

Link: Apple set to introduce new hardware Wednesday