All Posts, Links

I am Canadian, a reply to Bell’s open letter

Ben Klass, ANGELUS NOVUS

Bell began its life in Canada as a branch plant of an American company; in a strange twist of fate, it’s now a descendant of National Bell Telephone – Verizon – which is contemplating (re)entering the Canadian market. And they leveraged this relationship to get an early leg up on the competition – using patents owned by its American parent, Bell quickly monopolized the market for Canadian telephone services, a monopoly it used to funnel profits back to the States.

Klass knocks Bell down a peg in this wonderful response to CEO George Cope’s Open Letter to Canadians. For our American readers, you may not have heard that Verizon Wireless is rumored to be entering the Canadian wireless market. As a Canadian, I welcome any competition with the hope that Verizon could put pressure on our incumbents to lower plan prices and offer better value to Canadian consumers. Our major carriers – Bell, Rogers, and Telus – have begun a nationwide advertising campaign complaining about Verizon’s “unfair” entry into our country. While Verizon can capitalize on certain “loopholes” meant for new, small wireless carriers (such as WIND and Mobilicity, two small Canadian carriers apparently targeted for acquisition by Verizon), the bottom line is that we need more competition in Canada. Wireless prices in our country are too high and offer little value for the price – many “base level” smartphone plans in the $50 range include tiny 150 megabyte data allotments. Our Big Three are simply trying to protect their own interests. It’s time for change.

Advertisements
Link
All Posts, Reviews

Mini Review: HTC Windows Phone 8X

IMG_2128

Mini Reviews are a new review format from Current Editorials that allows us to take a look at a selection of interesting gadgets and present you with the details you care about most in a bite-sized article.

HTC and Microsoft partnered up this year to launch the premiere Windows Phone 8 handset, the HTC Windows Phone 8X. It’s running the latest Windows Phone 8 software, and features top-notch, stand-out hardware design. Microsoft and HTC are promoting the 8X as the Windows Phone 8 handset, but can it live up to that title? And more importantly, is it worth your hard earned cash?

Continue reading

Standard
All Posts

Windows Phone 8 Final Features Revealed: Kid’s Corner, Rooms, Live Apps and More

Microsoft formally unveiled Windows Phone 8 today, launching an operating system Microsoft hopes will finally mount a compelling challenge to Apple’s iPhone and devices running Android. Microsoft had already shown off much of what was new in Windows Phone 8 at an event earlier this year, but they did have some new features to show off today.

The most important new announcement was a brand new lock screen, powered by what Microsoft is calling Live Apps. Live Apps can push relevant information, such as pictures, sports scores, news, or other data you might find relevant, to your lock screen. The feature doesn’t appear to be as robust as home screen widgets on Android 4.2, but Microsoft is hand displaying data with the same elegant aplomb it’s shown with the rest of the Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 user interface. It’s not a game changing feature, but it does bring Windows Phone’s glanceability to the lock screen. An updated Facebook app will be one of the first live apps in the Windows Phone Store.

Microsoft also announced that it’s expanding People Hubs to include Rooms, private groups that can share files, calendars, lists, and other information and chat in real time. Rooms will be cross platform, Microsoft showed off Rooms running on an iPhone, but no word yet on how the feature will work and which operating systems it’s going to be available on. We do know, however, that live chat will only be available between Windows Phone users.

Kid’s Corner is a new Windows Phone feature that lets parents, and other Windows Phone owners who don’t want their kids poking around where they might find more *ahem* adult content set up a place for children to use approved content. Kid’s Corner can be accessed directly from the new lock screen, and the list of approved programs can be adjusted from the Kid’s Corner app. Think of it as multiple users, lite. Like the new lock screen, it’s not nearly as powerful as multiple users in Android 4.2, but it is better than what Apple’s offers on iOS: nothing.

Also announced was Data Sense, a set of data saving tools that includes a live widget to track data usage, data compression in Internet Explorer, and the ability to automatically find and connect to Wi-Fi hotspots. Windows Phone 8 will also force applications to be a bit thriftier with data as users approach their cap. Unfortunately, Data Sense won’t work for all users right away—it requires support from carriers to work properly. Verizon Wireless will be the first to support the new feature with its upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices.

If you’re a prolific smartphone photographer, you’ll need to use Data Sense—Microsoft also announced instant photo uploads to Sky Drive. Google+ and Dropbox have brought similar features to other platforms, but neither integrates as deeply with the operating system as Sky Drive uploads on Windows Phone will.

Standard
All Posts

HTC and Microsoft Announce Windows Phone 8X and 8S

HTC CEO Peter Chou and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today announced two new Windows Phones, the HTC Windows Phone 8X and 8S. The 8X is the higher end of the two devices with a 4.3 inch 720p super LCD 2 display (most likely the same phenomenal part used on the HTC One X), NFC, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage, while the 8S is forced makes due with 512MB of RAM and a 4 inch WVGA screen. The 8X and 8S use similar dual core Snapdragon S4 processors, but the 8X’s CPU is clocked 500MHZ higher. Both phones have Beats Audio, a feature not available on HTC’s latch batch of Windows Phones, and come in a variety of colors.

Pricing and carrier availability haven’t been announced for the 8S, but HTC did let slip that it will launch in early November. The 8X will launch on “over 150 carriers in 80 countreis;” includingAT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile in the United States, a few days after Microsoft’s late October Windows Phone 8 launch.

Both the phones are incredibly well designed, and should have no trouble going head to head with Apple’s iPhone 5 or Nokia’s Lumia 920. Their rectangular shape isn’t quite as striking as the look Nokia put together for its Lumia series, but first impressions seem to indicate its more comfortable to hold. Both phones are thinner than the Lumia, and weigh about half as much.

It’s interesting that Microsoft has allowed HTC to use the Windows Phone name. Not even Nokia, which was presumed to have a closer relationship with Microsoft than other OEMs, has been allowed to use the name of the platform as the name wiof its phone. It’s almost impossible to overstate the potential power of the Windows name, which could sell a lot of HTC phones this holiday season.

Standard
All Posts

Motorola Announces All New RAZR Line For Verizon: Droid RAZR M, Droid RAZR HD, and Droid RAZR MAXX HD

Motorola has just announced three new Droid RAZRs for Verizon: the RAZR M, RAZR HD, and RAZR HD MAXX. All three phones run on Verizon’s LTE Network and will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich and Chrome pre-installed. The phones still feature Motorola’s not-Blur Android skin, but its gotten better since the days of the Droid 2 and Droid X. It’s not as buttery smooth as stock Jelly Bean, and some of the widgets are a little annoying, but Motorola’s smart actions are genuinely useful. All three devices will ship with the same dual core processor.

The Droid RAZR HD is the highlight of the show, it sports a 4.7 inch Super AMOLED HD display. The 720p display is the stand out feature, but Motorola’s also touting faster performance. Motorola also announced a MAXX version of the RAZR HD that packs on a bit of girth to add a larger battery and more storage.

The RAZR M is a lower end device that ditches the higher resolution of its older sibling for a tiny chassis. Motorola trimmed down the M’s bezels to fit a larger screen in a body roughly the size of an iPhone 4. THe RAZR M is available for pre-order today, but, buyers should be wary of picking up the RAZR M: Motorola has a long history of using Pentile displays, which look especially bad at lower resolutions.

Press Release:

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., and LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. – Verizon Wireless and Motorola Mobility today announced that they are adding three new and exclusive smartphones, DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD, to the DROID RAZR by Motorola family on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

All three devices offer the power and reliability that customers have come to expect from Motorola and Verizon Wireless.  DROID devices give customers speed, power and revolutionary technology, while the RAZR design delivers a thin, compact device built with strong, top-of-the-line materials and long-lasting battery life.  The new smartphones are powered by the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, giving customers the capability to simultaneously talk and browse the Web and also access the blazingly fast speeds that cover more than 75 percent of the U.S. population.  With three brand new options, this lineup has something for everyone.

DROID RAZR M: The Full-Screen Phone

DROID RAZR M is an unbelievably compact smartphone that puts the world in the palm of your hand with an edge-to-edge 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display.  Customers will be amazed with the DROID RAZR M’s design, which is significantly shorter and narrower than the original DROID RAZR, yet includes the same size display, making it the most compact 4.3-inch 4G LTE smartphone.

DROID RAZR M also features powerful Web browsing capabilities by combining Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network with the speeds of Chrome for Android mobile browser for an unrivaled mobile Web experience.

The DROID RAZR M’s SMARTACTIONS feature maximizes battery efficiency with every charge, allowing customers to browse the Web and watch videos without worrying about draining their device’s battery.

DROID RAZR HD: Performance and Power

Building on the DROID RAZR legacy, the new DROID RAZR HD expands the innovation with a new 4.7-inch Super AMOLED HD display that allows movies, photos, magazines and even websites to appear with vivid clarity.  DROID RAZR HD provides customers with 78 percent more pixels for a more vibrant display and features 40 percent greater battery capacity than the original DROID RAZR.

The viewdini app is at its best with the HD display and 4G LTE speeds to watch movies, television shows and other video content.  Viewdini brings the power of Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network to the screen by streamlining access to videos from a wide range of content providers, including cable operators, websites and other popular video sources.  The viewdini app can be downloaded from Google Play.

DROID RAZR MAXX HD: Long Live the Battery

Packed with the same leading features as DROID RAZR HD, the DROID RAZR MAXX HD raises the industry standard for battery life with 32 hours of normal use.  The DROID RAZR MAXX HD is remarkably thin, yet packs sufficient battery power for 13 hours of straight video playback, enough to watch a movie trilogy without needing a charge.  Customers also have enough battery life to talk the day away with up to 21 hours of continuous talk time or browse the Web on 4G LTE for up to a full eight hours.

A Trilogy of Premium Design, Speed and Features:

·         4G LTE – customers can expect fast download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G LTE coverage areas.

·         Interactive Circles Widget allows quick access to notifications, weather, time and more

·         Quick Settings can be accessed directly from the home screen so customers can easily manage their volume profile, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, GPS and more

·         Enhanced Help Guides provide interactive tutorials, help topics and tips to become a DROID RAZR expert

·         Global Ready so customers can have voice and data service in more than 205 countries

·         Business ready with enterprise grade security and data encryption, remote wipe, complex password support, IPsec multi-headed VPN client and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync® support

·         1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB RAM

·         Mobile Hotspot – Share a 4G LTE connection with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices

·         8-megapixel camera with LED flash and 1080p HD recording

·         Front-facing camera for video chatting

·         NFC-enabled so customers can send contacts, links, maps and more directly to compatible phones with Android Beam

·         Corning® Gorilla® Glass display, DuPont KEVLAR® fiber and water-repellent nanocoating

·         microSDcard slot with support for up to 32 GB

The new DROID RAZRs run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (upgradeable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean by end of 2012) and come with the best of Google Mobile Services, including:

·         Chrome  for Android, giving a personalized Web experience

·         Google Play, apps and games, millions of books and songs, thousands of movies and TV shows

·         Google Maps for Android (Beta) for voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions

·         Voice Actions for Android, letting customers control their phones with their voice

·         Google+, which can automatically upload photos to a private album online

·         YouTube, watch videos in stunning HD, Preload subscribed channels or individual videos and the YouTube app will automatically download videos over Wi-Fi while the phone is charging – making them ready to watch in an instant

Pricing and Availability:

  • DROID RAZR M will be available for pre-order starting today, September 5th, at 5 p.m. ET at http://www.verizonwireless.com/droidrazrm and will be available on September 13th in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at http://www.verizonwireless.com for the introductory price of $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement.  Customers receive the rebate in the form of a debit card; upon receipt, customers may use the card as cash anywhere debit cards are accepted. The DROID RAZR M will be available in either Black or White.
  • DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD will be available before the holidays. The DROID RAZR HD will be available in either Black or White and the DROID RAZR MAXX HD will be available in Black.
  • Customers who purchase a DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD or DROID RAZR MAXX HD will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless data plan. Share Everything Plans allow customers to add smartphones to their account for $40 monthly access. For additional information, customers should go to www.verizonwireless.com/shareeverything
Standard
All Posts, Editorials

CES: The Best of The Best, Before it Actually Starts

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was scheduled to start today, and run until the 13th. I’m guessing that memo didn’t get sent out. News has been pouring out of Las Vegas over the last four days, with major announcements from Vizio, Nokia, and AT&T, among others. We at Current Editorials figured there is enough coverage, so in an attempt to lighten the load on your RSS readers, over the next few days we will be bringing you some of our favorite pieces from around the tech inter-web, in one easy to find place (that’s here). Here’s some of the best so far.

Nokia Lumina 900 – Nokia.com

With a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display, 4G LTE, and a 1.4GHz processor, this is the first true WP7 high-end device.

 AT&T launches six LTE devices – Cnet

Five Android phones. One Android tablet. All with LTE. Pricing starting under $50 and topping out at $300. Verizon, watch out.

Nikon releases the D4 – TheVerge

It’s packing a 16.2MP sensor, and native ISO of up to 12,800. It’s also $6,000. But if you are looking for a high-end DSLR, this is the best.

Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop – TheVerge

If you have $5,000, and a voracious need for high-tech cooking, this is your gadget. It’s absolutely ridiculous. In a good way.

Vizio unleashes a PC Line – Engadget

Vizio decided to enter the PC business, and take on everybody. At once. From 27″ All-in-one’s to 14-inch ‘thin + light’ laptop’s (even another tablet!), the TV maker seems ready to make a dent in the PC market. Only time will tell how big that dent will be.

Sony Z100, the Android-powered Walkman – TechCrunch

Never one to give up, Sony is still pushing their Walkman line, hoping to grab the non-Android, iPhone, iPod users. Which means your grandparents. Maybe.

Standard
All Posts, Editorials

Technology and Our Memory: Can We Find a Balance?

Article first published as Technology and Our Memory: Can We Find a Balance? on Technorati.

As I sat down to write my first article of 2012, I still had not decided on a subject. As I pondered, I quickly grabbed my iPhone. It had been about a week since I read any sort of news about technology, and I had completely blanked on what to write about. In one week, I had forgotten what the current news was, in the occupation I chose as my career. Sure, I remembered the major stories like SOPA, but every topic that didn’t have the capability to ‘destroy the Internet,’ had slipped my mind in a week. And I now know why.

I, and the majority of those reading this, rely on technology devices so much, that it has become essentially apart of our brains. Things that we used to have to remember — phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, even some names — we can’t recall anymore, at lease not without some assistance. These memories are now stored in our “external brains,” better known as our smartphones.

Back in 2007, Ben Quinn of The Telegraph wrote an article on a study that stated that mobile devices were “dumbing down brain power.” The study, conducted in the UK, states that,

“A quarter of all Britons do not know their own landline number, while as little as a third can recall more than three birthdays of their immediate family.”

That article was written in July of 2007, months before the original iPhone was released in the UK, and over a year before an Android device was even available. To say that the study is outdated is an understatement, but the premise is as relevant as ever. We rely so much on these devices — devices that have enhanced our lives in a multitude of ways — that if they were taken away, or decommissioned abruptly, we would be in serious trouble.

I’m not making an argument that technology is bad, or that it is having a negative effect on our society, far from it — I use a myriad of devices everyday, it’s how I make my living. But we are living through 4-inch screens. We document so much of our lives, from vacations, to live events (check any YouTube clip of a concert for the number of phones, and even iPads recording — you will be surprised), even memorializing family gatherings on Instagram, that we can sometimes forget to live in the moment.

Maybe that study is right, and technology is dumbing down our brains. But does it have more to do with the technology, or us as people? Are we so attached to these devices, that when we don’t have them, we can’t function? Or is it just a commodity that we have utilized to its fullest extent?

There is one thing I’m sure of — we need to have a balance between our extended brains, and our natural ones. We should be able to remember more than five phone numbers, we should be able to recall more than three of our family member’s birthdays, without looking at our phones, or tablets, or computers, or mutant 5-inch Android devices (really Samsung?).

We built this technology-filled world with our natural brains. Let’s make sure we can remember how we did it, without having to check our devices.

By the way, the topics that I blanked on were in my iPhone. Go figure.

Standard