iPhone and iPod Touch owners rejoice that a physical keyboard is finally coming out for your favorite device … but try to keep yourself in check until you learn the details.

Ion, a company best known for its USB devices, has announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that it is releasing a physical keyboard for the iPhone and iPod Touch, something users have been longing for since both devices first came to market.  Called the iType, the device will allow you to snap your Apple product into the top of the device and type on a nearly full-size physical keyboard while your device is in landscape mode.

While this sounds exciting at first, and you may have images of catching up on your emails dancing in your head, the keyboard will only work while you’re in the iType application.  You will then have to copy anything you write there and then paste it into the application you want to use it in.  A definite nuisance, and one that makes you wonder if the product will be worth it once it’s released.  No price has yet been announced which makes us even more suspicious that it is just not going to be worth the investment for being so limited in scope.

Categories: Apple, Cell Phones, Gadgets   

nexus oneFor all of the talking all of the tech bloggers have done about the Nexus One phone from Google, we were severely lacking in technical details. At long last, we have them.

Thanks to Engadget, the technical specifications for the Nexus One phone from Google have finally surfaced.

  • Android 2.1
  • 11.5mm thick
  • 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM, 4GB microSD in-box expandable to 32GB
  • 5 megapixel camera with mechanical AF and LED flash
  • HSPA 900 / 1700 / 2100, 7.2Mbps down and 2Mbps up (this means it will work with T-Mobile’s 3G network, but not AT&T’s)
  • 1GHz Qualcomm chip
  • Wi-Fi A/B//G/N
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS
  • Cell tower & Wi-Fi positioning
  • Accelerometer
  • 3.7-inch diagonal widescreen

Simply put, this sounds like it is going to be a great phone, but we still haven’t heard anything about pricing, release date, how it will be sold, will it be offered with a subsidy … in short, we are still missing a huge portion of the puzzle pieces.  It is believed a formal announcement will be made at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas during the first week of January, but even that is just speculation at this time.

Categories: Cell Phones, Google   

fccnexusoneThe government has inadvertently confirmed the NexusOne, also known as the Google Phone, by showing its FCC approval.

Before any cell phone is released in the United States it must go through approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  As the FCC is an open body, all approvals are posted to its Web site, and thanks to this little trick, the FCC approval for the NexusOne, the official name of the Google Phone, was revealed this morning.

The reason this is even remotely interesting is that all of the technical aspects of the phone must be revealed to get the needed approval.  So, what did we learn?  Well thanks to the information about its wireless bands, it looks like it will work on T-Mobile’s 3G network, but not on AT&T’s.  Thanks to its EDGE band, it should work on all carriers, but if you want true wireless high speed, you may be stuck with only T-Mobile.  That is not what a lot of us were hoping for, and it will severely limit how much of a dent this phone will put in the United States cell phone market.

We also learned it will have 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, which has been tricky for some phones to include because of the possibility of network interference.  It will also be sporting the ubiquitous Bluetooth connectivity and a microSD slot for memory expansion, both are pretty much a requirement in this day and age.

Without support for the AT&T 3G network this won’t be the threat to the iPhone we all thought it might be at first, but that won’t be fully decided until it is actually in the hands of consumers and we can see what this thing can do.

Categories: Cell Phones, Gadgets, Google   

nexus oneAs you have undoubtedly heard by now, it appears Google is releasing its own cell phone next month called the Nexus One.  Why is everyone so hyped about this?  What does it mean to the average cell phone user?  Follow along.

Evidence has mounted all weekend to the fact the long rumored Google Phone is finally real and will be called the Nexus One.  While it appears from the photos that have leaked to just be the new HTC Passion that is due out on T-Mobile next month, it’s what under the hood that will make this a totally different beast, as well as how it is being sold.

The Nexus One will be running a copy of the Google Android operating system, which is nothing new since many phones now run it, but what will be different is that it won’t be fractured.  As Android has gone out to the various carriers, they’ve all made little tweaks to it that have caused it to act differently on different handsets, and in turn this has made it hard for application developers to make sure their products work across all the different versions.  So the copy that will run the Nexus One will probably be the truest version of the Android OS we’ve seen yet.

As for the way the phone is being sold, that is where things will get a bit odd.  The rumors currently point to Google selling it themselves via the Web as an unlocked phone.  If you are unfamiliar what this means in the term of phones, unlocked phones are not tied to any one carrier and you can walk in, sign up for their service, get a SIM card from them and your phone will work.  Most phones have a carrier logo on them meaning you can’t take a BlackBerry you buy from Sprint and expect it to work on the T-Mobile network and vice versa.

While companies such as Nokia have sold unlocked phones before, none of them have had the name “Google” attached to them which is going to make this a highly desirable device.

The one problem we may encounter is in the price.  If you have ever tried to buy a cell phone that isn’t attached to a contract, or before your upgrade is allowed, you know that smart phones cost more in the range of $500 – $600.  No matter what Google does, unless they find a way to subsidize this phone, people won’t be dropping that much on it.  One suspicion floating around the Web is that Google will sell it as a lower price with the expectation you will be clicking on ads on the phone.  It’s how they bring you services like Gmail for free, so the company is well versed in the business model.  Will it be enough to make the phone affordable?  Only time will tell.

Quite possibly the Nexus One could end up being a game changer for the cell phone industry.  A highly desirable phone not tied to any one carrier will make them compete for your business.  I could easily see the carriers running “Nexus Pricing Specials” where they try to out do each other to woo the most Nexus users to their network.  That is just my theory at this point, but if the phone takes off like I suspect it will, I can really imagine it happening.

My only regret is I got a new BlackBerry Tour in early August, but boy do I want to drool on a Nexus One.

[photo credit Cory O’Brien]

Categories: Cell Phones, Gadgets, Google   

retrevoDon’t you wish you could quickly compare prices you find in brick and mortar stores with the going price online right there on the spot? Thanks to Retrevo this is now easier than ever.

We’ve all been in that spot where we are in a retail store and we think we find a bargain, but in the back of our head we start wondering what the reviews are like online, what are the prices on the Internet and so on. Well, thanks to price comparison site Retrevo, all of that information is now just a text message or Tweet away.

By simply sending a text message to the company shortcode, you receive a text message back explaining the going price online and if they recommend you buy it. The example the company provided was you send a request to shortcode 41411 with the following: “retrevoq Canon 500D” (minus the quote marks) and this is what I got back:

Canon 500D: Strong Buy if you want high end. Fair Price: $854. Range: $727 – $1043. http://bit.ly/1wSds2

By clicking on the link in the text I was taken to the corresponding page on the the Retrevo Web site with more in-depth information about the product.

If you prefer to use Twitter, you can get the same info by either sending them a public message or a direct message.  So if you sent them something like “@retrevoq Canon 500D” and you would receive the same information I received in the text message.

I was impressed with the speed of the reply text message, the formatting and the included information. My only complaint would be that the prices listed by Retrevo in general do not include Amazon’s price, but they do included about a dozen other sites, so you still are receiving a good range of choices.

There has been a need for a service like this for a long time, and seeing as it is free, you have nothing to lose. This is the perfect tool to help you with your shopping this coming Black Friday for those bargains you wander into by accident.

Categories: Cell Phones, Shopping   

BlackBerry_LogoTired of others dictating to you what your BlackBerry screens, icons, sounds and so on should be? Why not give the BlackBerry Theme Studio a whirl?

Since Research In Motion (RIM) introduced themes into its popular BlackBerry phones, you have been either stuck with the pre-loaded ones, a small selection of free ones you can download or paying for others you could find on some sites.  You could some times change the home image, but it always took some research to figure out what size the image needed to be.  All of this has now been simplified thanks to the new BlackBerry Theme Studio from RIM.

With this new application you can edit the following features of your phone:

  • Home screen and backgrounds
  • Icons and menus
  • Animations and screen transitions
  • Sound effects and ringtones

If you want to get real fancy, you can use programs like Adobe Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro to create more detailed graphics.  If you don’t feel like doing everything yourself, you can also use the built-in templating system that will help you get along in the process.

While not an Earth shatteringly important announcement for the BlackBerry, it certainly is a welcome one for fans of the popular smartphones.

[Thanks to Jo from Jo's Cafe for the tip]

Categories: Cell Phones   

iphone 3gsIt’s only a rumor at this point, but it is quite possible that Apple is preparing to break its exclusivity with AT&T in 2010.

According to rumors reported by AppleInsider, Apple has contracted for a version of its popular iPhone to be built with both UMTS/CDMA bandwidths, meaning that it would work with every carrier in the world. This would reduce the cost to Apple of having to produce different handsets for different markets, and it would also open up the possibility of the iPhone coming to Verizon in the USA.

Does this mean that Apple is for sure severing its exclusivity ties with AT&T in the USA?  No, of course it doesn’t.  While the new iPhone is scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2010, and that is close to when the AT&T contract ends, that doesn’t mean anything is written in stone.

Would it be smart for Apple to get away from AT&T?  Yes, it would be considering the numerous complaints users have had with the carrier, it has reflected badly on Apple in turn.  But, just because a phone has the capability to do something doesn’t mean it necessarily will.  This change to the iPhone’s construction solves a lot of problems for Apple in numerous markets, not just in the USA.

Another portion of the rumor is that Apple is looking at reducing the screen size from 3.5″ to 2.8″.  I find it difficult to believe that Apple would do this across the board, it sounds more to me like the oft-rumored “iPhone Nano”.  People have speculated for years now that Apple would come out with some smaller, cheaper version of the phone to capture more of the market.  A screen reduction of that magnitude would be very odd if it was an “all or nothing” scenario.

What I find most amusing is that we are already in rumor mode for iPhone 2010 … I bet the 2011 rumors will start fairly soon too …

Categories: Apple, Cell Phones   

universal mobile phone chargerAt long last, the end of specific cell phone chargers for different brands and models is coming to an end … at least in Europe.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations body, has given final approval to a universal cell phone charger according to the BBC.  We first brought you news of this possibility back in Feb. of this year, and even we are a bit surprised by how fast this has become a reality.

It is not compulsory for cell phone manufacturers to use the new micro USB connection, but companies such as Sony Ericsson have already said they will be using it on new phones as they are introduced in 2010.

It is estimated that this new move will stop the production of 51,000 tons of redundant chargers each year, as well as the emission of 13.6 million tons of greenhouse gases.  Of course this isn’t to mention the amount of convenience it will make for consumers.  One charger will be able to be shared by a family … no more desperation if you lose your charger, just walk into any cell phone store and buy another … no more drawers full of chargers that no longer match your current phone and so on.

While this has mostly been discussed for Europe thus far, it is hard to believe that it won’t appear in other countries as well.  It is difficult to imagine that cell phone companies would want to tool different molds for different countries to use, the only difference will be the end that plugs into the wall as countries use different plug-in styles around the world.

Now, if only other electronics like laptops would do this also …

Categories: Cell Phones   

sidekick3T-Mobile Sidekick users rejoice, your contacts are coming back … finally.

In what has to be the biggest disaster to date for mobile data loss, T-Mobile and Microsoft have finally figured out a way to get your contacts back on to your Sidekick.  Microsoft made the following announcement earlier this morning:

The Danger / Microsoft team continues to work around the clock and has completed its latest round of rigorous tests. We are now ready to make the first phase of the content restoration process available to you, starting with personal contacts.

This data restoration effort is only necessary for the minority of customers who lost data from their Sidekick devices.

Beginning today, log into the My T-Mobile website, where there will be a recovery tool to restore contacts you may have lost during the recent service outage. This tool will enable you to view the contacts you had on your device as of October 1. With a few clicks and a confirmation, you will be able to restore these contacts to your Sidekick. If you have recreated some of the same contacts on your Sidekick since October 1, you can choose to keep both sets of contacts, merge them, or just keep the set of contacts now on your device. You may also edit any partial or complete duplicates on your Sidekick after restoration.

We continue to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to restore your data. We’re making solid progress on the next phase in this restoration process, including your photographs, notes, to-do lists, marketplace data and high scores.

We appreciate your ongoing patience.

You can find step-by-step directions in the T-Mobile forums.

While it is nice to see progress being made, it would be even nicer to finally get some sort of official word as to how T-Mobile plans to make this up to their users who have suffered through weeks of this mess now.

Categories: Cell Phones, News   

sidekick3Microsoft has announced that “most, if not all” data lost in the recent Sidekick debacle is being recovered.

The following letter was issued by Microsoft today:

Dear T-Mobile Sidekick customers,

On behalf of Microsoft, I want to apologize for the recent problems with the Sidekick service and give you an update on the steps we have taken to resolve these problems.

We are pleased to report that we have recovered most, if not all, customer data for those Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage. We plan to begin restoring users’ personal data as soon as possible, starting with personal contacts, after we have validated the data and our restoration plan. We will then continue to work around the clock to restore data to all affected users, including calendar, notes, tasks, photographs and high scores, as quickly as possible.

We now believe that data loss affected a minority of Sidekick users. If your Sidekick account was among those affected, please continue to log into the T-Mobile Sidekick forum at http://www.t-mobile.com/sidekick for the latest updates about when data restoration will begin, and any steps you may need to take. We will work with T-Mobile to post the next update on data restoration timing no later than Saturday.

We have determined that the outage was caused by a system failure that created data loss in the core database and the back-up. We rebuilt the system component by component, recovering data along the way. This careful process has taken a significant amount of time, but was necessary to preserve the integrity of the data.

We will continue working closely with T-Mobile to restore user data as quickly as possible. We are eager to deliver the level of reliable service that our incredibly loyal customers have become accustomed to, and we are taking immediate steps to help ensure this does not happen again. Specifically, we have made changes to improve the overall stability of the Sidekick service and initiated a more resilient backup process to ensure that the integrity of our database backups is maintained.

Once again, we apologize for this situation and the inconvenience that it has created. Please know that we are working all-out to resolve this situation and restore the reliability of the service.


Roz Ho

Corporate Vice President

Premium Mobile Experiences, Microsoft Corporation

Oct. 15, 2009

However, never fear, multiple lawsuits have already been filed against all the parties involved in this mess. Is anyone really surprised.

Categories: Cell Phones, Microsoft   
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