Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Verizon iPhone hotspot $20/mo and paying $212 for iPhone 4 trades

Verizon will allow customers a $212 credit for a 16 GB iPhone 4 if AT&T customers are so inclined to trade their phones in via Verizon's online trade-in system.

The 32 GB iPhone 4 will bring in $285 and an iPhone 3GS 16 GB will bring $116.

Even a now very old iPhone 3G will get you $36 for an 8 GB model. So in many cases, AT&T customers can get their new iPhone covered if they're willing to switch and sign a new contract with Verizon. Of course, that's before any early termination fees you might have to pay.

Verizon also announced that its prices for the new hotspot feature for iPhone 4, delivering wireless internet for up to 5 devices. It will be $20 per month on top of your $30 unlimited data bill. And the hotspot will have a limit of 2 GB per month. Go over and you pay $20 for another gig. One caveat, the 2 GB data is separate for your unlimited data for activities directly on the phone.

Verizon is expected to change its plans to tiered plans, similar to AT&T in the near future. No word is the company will grandfather existing unlimited users when that happens, as AT&T did.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TW Cable adds more ESPN access for PC users

Beginning today, Time Warner Cable customers in Charlotte will be able to watch ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Buzzer Beater on their computers, so long as they have video subscriptions to those services.

Eligible customers can already see ESPN and online.

The new choices are accessible via

While there, users will have the option to view the main channels in several views, including picture-in-picture, simultaneous viewing of more than one channel and full-screen viewing of a single channel. Access through certain other Internet enabled devices such as mobile phones and tablets is expected in the near future.

Customers can go to to register or sign in and view the programming.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Verizon's first iPhone commercial hits the air: "It begins"

Remember when Droid Does took swipes at the iPhone? Now iPhone appears to be Verizon's feature phone.

Here's big Red's first i-commercial, essentially thanking subscribers for waiting for it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TW Cable adds new HD Channels

Time Warner Cable has been on a roll adding HD channels, playing catch up to offerings from satellite services.

TWC added six more HD channels today and says it offers more than 120 currently.

These are channels added today:

Nickelodeon HD
Spike TV HD
Disney XD HD
Showtime Next HD
Showtime Women HD

For a complete list of all HD channels visit

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Michael Jackson's videogame is definitely not a thriller

Michael Jackson was the greatest entertainer who ever lived, and he made some of the best pop music ever made, but Ubisoft has not done well by his legacy with the Nintendo Wii version of “Michael Jackson: The Experience” videogame.

The game is, to be honest, a hot mess.

The biggest problem is, for a dance game, especially one with probably the best collection of dance music you could ever want, it just doesn’t work well.

For starters, the Wii-mote only maps the motions of the hand holding the controller. Ever tried doing Michael’s famous leg kick or moonwalk with your arm? OK you don’t have to, but the point is, even if you work yourself into a mad sweat trying to do the steps from “Billie Jean,” the game won’t begin to know how well (or how terribly) you moonwalked, because it can really only follow your arm swinging back and forth.

At first glance, this game is a can’t miss.

You take some of Mike’s greatest hits, like “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Beat It,” and incorporate them into a game where you try to dance like the best dancer we may’ve ever seen. And it is a little fun just to try to channel your inner Mike in your living room.

But in a dance game, I’m not sure why slow songs like “Heal The World” on on here. And there are too many slow songs.

Worse, real dancers mimic Mike’s moves on screen against some really bad backgrounds and their faces are washed out, in an effort, I guess to make you think that’s the real Michael dancing on screen. The dancers, though, are really good and do a great job of performing the famous moves.

You can get points by mimicking the moves, and there are small portraits on the side of the screen -- sometimes -- that try to help you teach moves. And it’s just flat hard to do Mike’s dance steps. You’ve seen enough bad impersonators to know that.

Still my biggest complaint is you can play about as well by sitting on your bottom and playing.

I hope to get a chance to review the Kinect version, which graphics aside, should provide a more realistic experience, since the Kinect maps your entire body, which would make trying to follow along with the moves, and scoring a few a lot more fun.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Details on next iPhone (iPhone 5) and iPad (iPad 2) leak

Engadget reports some big rumors on the expected iPhone 5 and iPad 2 due later this year:

First the iPad 2:

-- Engadget sources say the iPad 2 will come out around April and will be thinner with a new screen technology that is a lot like iPhone 4's excellent "Retina" display.

Sources say the size will remain the same, around 10 inches, and front and rear cameras will be added along with a dedicated SD slot built in (but no USB port).

The device will also feature a new chipset that features the technologies that power AT&T and Verizon wireless products (GSM for AT&T; CDMA for Verizon). The new chipset, the blog reports, will be made by Qualcomm.

This will allow Apple to make one iPad that will work for Verizon and AT&T (and possibly Sprint, too, since Sprint and Verizon both use CDMA).

Now the iPhone 5

-- For all of you who are anxiously waiting to buy the current iPhone 4 in a few weeks on Verizon, just know there's a strong possibility Apple will deliver a new phone in June. Engadget says to expect a completely redesigned model, one that's being secretly tested by senior staff at Apple.

The new device will use a multi-core chip that will double its processing power. It will also run multiple wireless technologies but there was no word on whether it would work with Verizon and AT&T's new 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks.

-- Engadget also reported its sources saying a new Apple TV will process 1080p video easily, something the current model won't do.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Google app translate speech in real time (video)

Holy Star Trek! Google's new Translate App build for Android is one of the best apps we've seen in awhile.

The new build includes a "conversation" mode that will record speech and translate it in real time. So I can say I would like the bacon to the guy in the German grocery store in English and the phone will translate to German. Then when he answers it'll translate back to me in English.

Kind of neat to take with you out of the country somewhere, huh? Best of all, it's free in the Android Market now.

Now who needs Captain Kirk's voice transcoder anymore?

Here's a video to help

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sprint plans major announcement Feb 7? iPhone?

Hot on the heels of Verizon's big iPhone announcement Tuesday, Sprint has sent out invites to its own New York shin dig next Monday, where illusionist David Blaine will be on hand.

Journalists are invited to see what "Sprint has up its sleeve." The event takes place Feb. 7, just three days before the general public can order Verizon's iPhone.

The company promises to show that the impossible is possible. Well, Apple COO Tim Cook did say Verizon had a non exclusive CDMA agreement for iPhone and Sprint's network is CDMA. Could this be a 4G iPhone to run on Sprint's WiMax network? Could it be a new Android 4G phone, though Sprint did show a HTC Evo Shift 4G and the BlackBerry playbook at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Should be fun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Next iPad to be Verizon compatible, too

Fresh on the heels of today's iPhone to Verizon launch, it appears that the next iPad, due this spring, will include a version that connects directly to Verizon's 3G network.

Verizon sells the current iPad but sells a MiFi device that must be carried separately to use the iPad with Verizon's network. AT&T sells a version with a built in chip that gives users access to its 3G network.

Bloomberg reports that Francis Shammo, chief financial officer of Verizon Communications Inc., the parent of the wireless unit, confirmed the upcoming Verizon iPad today. According to Bloomberg, Shammo declined to say when the change may happen.

Fight: AT&T vs. Verizon iPhone

A quick look at strengths and weaknesses of the AT&T and Verizon iPhone.

The phones look virtually identical with the Verizon version earning new antenna notch placements on the aluminum shell that holds the phone together.

NETWORK STRENGTH: AT&T has taken a beating from users who say the network is unreliable. It's fast, offering theoretical download speeds of up to 7 MB compared with 3 MB theoretical for Verizon 3G, and in many major markets, including Charlotte, AT&T is quite good. But if you've ever been staring at 1 bar or no bars inside a gym or a mall or a bank while you watch a Verizon customer chatting away, well, you get the picture. Winner: Verizon.

USABILITY: AT&T uses GSM technology that allows users to make calls and use data at the same time. Ever been talking to Grandma and needing to get directions at the same time? This is a feature you might not use a lot, but it's neat to have it when you do. AT&T's faster network also delivers information faster. Winner: AT&T.

PRICING: We have yet to see what Verizon's monthly plans are for iPhone, but both carriers typically have similar calling plans. Verizon, however, still offers unlimited data for $30 per month, which is big when all these new services are debuting, like video chat, that are data hungry. AT&T allows legacy users to keep unlimited plans but new users must choose between 2 GB ($25) and 200 MB ($15). Winner: Verizon.

FEATURES: Most people know what the iPhone can do. It's the world's most popular smart phone for a reason. AT&T, though, currently doesn't allow users to make FaceTime video calls over 3G and only allows users to tether the iPhone to one device. That allows you to, say, share you iPhone internet connection with your computer.

But to do that, even legacy unlimited data users on AT&T have to switch to the 2GB or 200 MB plan, and the tethered data usage comes from that bucket. One trip to Netflix can get your monthly bill zooming. Big fail.

If Verizon keeps unlimited data, it will have a huge advantage here, and Verizon is bringing hotspot capabilities to iPhone. You can give signal to five devices at once (though you can' t make a call while "hotspotting"). So if you're considering a tablet computer, for instance, and you have iPhone, you might not need to pay for a 3G/4G plan for the tablet and can choose the cheaper WiFi version of your chosen tablet if available. Winner: Verizon.

Both iPhone 4s will be excellent phones for the near term. However, I might be a little timid about settling into a new 2 year deal with Verizon for this one when Apple normally releases a new iPhone in June. That one might be compatible with Verizon's faster 4G network (which would also cost more). An LTE Verizon phone would allow simultaneous call/data usage and eliminate any speed advantages AT&T might have.

AT&T has recently completed its higher-speed 3G network, called HSPA+, which offers theoretical download speeds of up to 21 MB or more. It is beginning to roll out devices that will take advantage of those higher speeds (the current iPhone 4 will not). Unfortunately, AT&T is confusing customers by labeling this improved 3G as 4G. AT&T is also going to launch its LTE (long term evolution) network -- what most folks think of when they hear "4G" -- later this year. If nothing else, the guess here is that iPhone 5 will work with the faster version of AT&T's 3G network and possible its new LTE network, too.

Apple traditionally has waited for networks to mature before jumping in. It waited a year to make an iPhone 3G when 3G was available when the first iPhone hit stores. Of course, Android wasn't around then providing worthy competition.

The guess here is that iPhone 5, which will hit stores in June, will work with Verizon LTE and AT&T's higher speed 3G and 4G. Winner: EVEN

Should you buy the Verizon iPhone right away?

I have a friend, Andre, who has been a Verizon wireless customer since, well, forever. He's been through a series of Androids and Blackberrys and what he really has always wanted was an iPhone. Only he didn't want to switch to AT&T to get it.

Today, Andre got his wish. In three weeks, he can pre-order iPhone 4 on Verizon.

But should he?

The iPhone 4 released today works with Verizon Wireless' existing 3G network. It's quite reliable, but as someone who has tested smartphones on it for the past 18 months on a regular basis, it's not the fastest thing in the world. I regularly get download speeds in town of about 1 MB with Verizon smartphones. AT&T's iPhone (which is pretty reliable locally, too) regularly pulls down 2-3 times that in my tests.

This means webpages via Verizon will load slower, YouTube videos will buffer longer, etc, and maybe that isn't much of a big deal in exchange for better call reliability -- and reception in gyms and hotels and buildings -- especially when traveling to smaller towns where AT&T's 3G reach isn't too great.

Also, remember Apple is widely expected to stick to its annual release date for an iPhone 5 in June. Apple and Verizon wouldn't comment on future release dates at their New York news conference Monday, so we don't know if Verizon will get iPhone 5 in June, when AT&T customers are expected to get it, or whether Verizon customers wouldn't see a new revision until 2012.

With AT&T and Verizon rolling out next generation LTE 4G networks, many industry analysts expect Apple to deliver an LTE iPhone which would deliver the type speeds home broadband users get -- up to 10 MB down and perhaps faster -- on mobile devices.

What if the Verizon LTE iPhone comes in June?

So does Andre want to sign a contract in three weeks with Verizon for two years and then have to watch iPhone 5 users get to use Verizon's new 4G network in a few months? Verizon is allowing customers to purchase the iPhone at full price ($599) and not sign a long term contract.

I'm not sure what the right answer is. Verizon's 4G network will be available to smart phone users in Charlotte as soon as the handsets are available. I've tested Sprint's version of Wi-Max 4G here and found the speeds remarkable, but Sprint charges $10 per month to access 4G and I'm sure Verizon will do the same.

A new iPhone will add some features but I don't think it will be a major leap from iPhone 4, so if you're happy with the speed you get now from Verizon and don't care to pay the extra money for more, well, have at it, because I do think the best phone on the Verizon network is coming early next month and there's so much pent-up demand that people are going to buy it, and Andre will probably be one of them.

It's official: iPhone to Verizon

Lowell McAdam, President and CEO Verizon Wireless, and Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook took the stage at a New York press conference Monday to announce news that the tech world had been waiting for: Apple's iPhone is coming to Verizon.

The Verizon iPhone goes on sale Feb. 10. Existing Verizon customers can pre-order starting Feb. 3. The phone will be $199 for 16 GB and $299 for 32 GB. It will act as a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices. The phone will be available at the Apple store, alongside the AT&T version, and well as at Verizon Wireless locations. Verizon said it will also sell iPhone via indirect sales channels, but not at launch.

Verizon did not announce monthly pricing plans.

McAdam said his company's relationship with Apple has developed over the past few years, and that in 2008, the two companies talked about bringing iPhone to Verizon's 3G network. He said Verizon has spent a year testing the iPhone. Apple and Verizon have a multi-year non-exclusive agreement for the Verizon version, which uses a wireless technology called CDMA, which differs from AT&T, which uses a wireless technology called GSM.

The non-exclusive agreement could pave the way for an iPhone on Sprint, which also uses CDMA.

The new iPhone will only work on Verizon's existing 3G network and not its new 4G network which promises higher speeds. Cook said making this phone LTE capable would force design compromises Apple was not willing to make and that customers wanted the phone now. Most companies who are making phones to work with Verizon's 4G network plan to release them in summer.

AT&T executives, whose company has had an iPhone exclusive for three years, have already begun to criticize the competition saying that its 3G network is faster than Verizon's, a fact backed up by many studies.

Expect Verizon to strike back, emphasizing that its network has been more reliable. AT&T has finished last in several reliability surveys and iPhone customers have complained so much about connection issues and dropped calls that AT&T has added huge public WiFi hotspots in cities like New York, San Francisco and Charlotte to try to alleviate the problems.

At Monday's news conference, Verizon officials stressed its network was ready to handle new waves of data hungry iPhone customers.

Apple's Cook said the phone was optimized to work on Verizon's network and asked if any changes had been made to iPhone 4's oft-critized antenna, he said "it's going to work great."

One caveat: Verizon's CDMA network does not allow voice calls at the same time as data. So you cannot surf the internet and make calls like on AT&T's version. Cook said "I think people place different emphasis on things. I can tell you that the number one question I've gotten is when will the iPhone work on Verizon. I couldn't be happier to tell people that. They will make these sorts of tradeoffs."


Should you buy Verizon iPhone right now or wait?

Fight: AT&T vs. Verizon iPhone

Next iPad to Verizon compatible, too

Monday, January 10, 2011

Verizon iPhone to offer unlimited data?

With the Tuesday morning announcement of the Verizon iPhone being the worst kept secret in tech media, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Verizon will offer unlimited data to iPhone subs.

That would be a huge differentiating point between Verizon and AT&T, which still offers unlimited data to legacy iPhone users, but has started offering new users an option of $15 per month for 200 MB of data and $25 for 2 GB.

Verizon offers a $30 unlimited plan currently, the same as AT&T originally did with iPhone and other smartphones.

If Verizon can also have the iPhone operate as a hotspot as it allows other Android phones to do, that could also create a big difference from AT&T. Verizon charges $20 per month to give wireless access with up to five devices.

AT&T will allow you use your iPhone to give internet access to other devices but to do so, customers who have unlimited data have to come off that plan and choose the 2GB or 200 MB plans for data and any data used in those sessions come out of your data bucket. That means you chew up your allowance faster.

Friday, January 07, 2011

WSJ: Verizon iPhone wait's over; phone debuts Tuesday

According to the Wall Street Journal, the iPhone comes to Verizon next week.

After rumors for more than two years, Apple's phone will hit Verizon on Tuesday, according to WSJ, which said Verizon will make the announcement Tuesday. It's unclear when the device will launch, but it's expected to run on Verizon's current 3G network and not its newer LTE network which offers home-like broadband speeds.

Analysts expect the move to hurt AT&T, which has been the sole U.S. iPhone carrier since it debuted three years ago, but say it will be particularly hard on Sprint and T-Mobile, which will be the two largest carriers to not have Apple's device.

The WSJ also reports that Verizon has been working to strengthen its network in advance of launching the iPhone to avoid the network slowdowns and dropped calls that have plagued some of AT&T iPhone customers.

Meanwhile, Verizon has sent out media invitations for an event in New York City. It says rather cryptically, "Join us as we share the latest news." Lowell McAdam, Verizon CEO, will handle the keynote.

There was no mention of the iPhone at Verizon's Consumer Electronics Show keynote Thursday, when the carrier touted its next gen network's strength and showed off several phones and tablets that will use the new network, most running Android software.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Apple launches its Mac App Store

This morning, Apple launched its new Mac App Store, bringing the world of apps that has helped make the iPhone so popular to its Mac desktops and laptops.

To get the new store, Mac users must download the new operating system software update (click the Apple in the upper left hand corner of the screen and choose "Software Update").

An icon will be added to the taskbar to launch the new store, which Apple says has more than 1,000 apps at launch, both free and paid.

Angry Birds is $4.99 since I knew you'd be asking. iLife '11 apps are $14.99 each and iWork apps are $19.99 each.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

TW Cable customers get ready for more HD

Time Warner Cable will launch more than 12 new HD channels by the end of the month, which it says will bring its total to more than 120 HD channels overall.

Guess Dish and DirecTV will have to find something else to pick on.

Beginning Thursday, TWC will light up Comedy Central HD, MTV HD, BET HD, VH1 HD, The Hub HD, 5 StarMax HD and Showtime Beyond HD

A complete list of HD offerings is at this link.

No 4G iPhone until 2012? And an iPhone 5 video?

AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega gave a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show Tuesday in Las Vegas and talked about his company accelerating its LTE (long term evolution) wireless network deployment.

He said AT&T's new high speed network will launch later this year and will be complete by 2013. Verizon launched its LTE network late last year. LTE promises to bring home-like broadband speeds to wireless phones and devices.

de la Vega also touted AT&T's expanding 3G network variant, called HSPA+, that allows what he called "4G speeds" now. He also talked about 20 new 4G devices coming this year, including modems, tablets and mobile hotspots as well as phones.

One phone not on his list? Apple's uber popular iPhone.

He included Apple on the list of companies set to launch LTE devices in 2012. Apple has typically let technology mature until it drops its hardware for it. The Cupertino, Calif, company did the same thing with the original iPhone, waiting a year before taking it to 3G.

This would seem to mean that the upcoming Verizon iPhone, which some analysts feel is just weeks away now, will be 3G only and will remain that way, even when iPhone 5 debuts later this year.

It will be interesting to see if Verizon customers have to wait for iPhone 5 until June, and that any announcement upcoming from Verizon is simply "Wait til summer."

In any event, I'd be loathe to buy an iPhone 4 in February or March knowing iPhone 5 is coming in June.

The plot thickens.

UPDATE: AT&T has issued a statement that no specific iPhone/LTE announcements were made at the keynote and there was some confusion over 4G and LTE 4G.

Bottom line customers are going to be confused as some companies, like AT&T and T-Mobile, push their updated 3G networks as 4G while Verizon and to a lesser extent Sprint push next gen networks, also calling them 4G.

Below is the video from a website claiming it has iPhone 5 or Verizon iPhone 4. Take it for what it's worth

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Get ready to play the Masters on new Tiger Woods game

Augusta National is finally coming to the Tiger Woods PGA Tour videogame.

"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters" hits store shelves March 29 for $49.99 and will be available for Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The PlayStation version will use the Move controller (no word if the Xbox version will be Kinect compatible).

Game maker EA SPORTS used what it called a "new state-of-the art laser scanning technology" to laser scan every hole at Augusta National Golf Club. This will allow what it feels are accurate representations of the Par 3 and the main golf course, down to the most minute detail. Players will see every tree, every azalea, and for many of us, this may be the closest we ever get to playing there.

A special PS3 "Collector's Edition" ($69.99) will also be released with the Masters plus five additional courses.

If you're a golf nut, like me, this will be a treat, to play Amen Corner and the famous 18th at Augusta National and to compete for a virtual green jacket.

In addition to (what I feel is) the world's best golf course, the new Tiger Woods game will have several enhancements, including Masters Moments, which allows players to play through famous tournament moments against tournament legends.

Other features:

· Tiger at the Masters – Relive each of Tiger’s four wins at the Masters by attempting to equal or beat his scores in each round of the Tournament.

· The Caddie Experience – Caddies will provide advice on every shot, helping players/gamers choose the right club and help read the greens.

· The new broadcast team of CBS Sports' Jim Nantz and David Feherty will handle the bulk of the commentary. CBS handles the real thing, too.

· Career Mode – The all-new career mode will closely mirror the journey of an amateur golfer’s rise through the ranks and chase the title of Masters champion.

· New Players: Over 20 professional golfers to choose from, including Zach Johnson (2007 Masters Champion) and Bubba Watson (2010 Ryder Cup – Team USA).

· Championship Courses – Take on the best of the best on sixteen of the world’s most celebrated courses, including Augusta National Golf Club, Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Australia), Atlanta Athletic Club, TPC San Antonio, St Andrews Links and Pebble Beach Golf Links.