Bluetooth is looking to get updated soon, and the announcement of what we can expect is coming April 21st.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group will be announcing all of the new specifications for Bluetooth 3.0 on April 21st, and from what is being rumored, it seems everyone’s favorite wireless communications standard will be getting even better.  The biggest increase will come in the form of speed focused at the consumer electronics market which will allow you to move files between home devices quickly and efficently.  Until now the home market has not had much Bluetooth connectivity, but this is something they are looking to change with this new release.

For those of you who use Bluetooth headsets with your phones, you’ll be happy to know they are promising a new feature called “Enhanced Power Control”.  While there is no clue as to how this works, but the result of this will supposedly be less disconnects between your paired devices as you move them around such as putting them in a pocket or purse.  This has always been one of my personal biggest complaints about the technology, so hopefully this really will improve things.

Full details will be coming later this month.

Categories: Gadgets, News   

gmail logoGmail has finally added a feature that has been a long time in coming, but like so many other new features, it’s in the Labs.

Most email services have had inline image embedding for ages, but Gmail, which just celebrated its 5th birthday, has been lacking this feature up until now. Just announced today, Gmail now supports image embedding, but like so many other new features as of late, you have to go and turn it on in your settings.  For those unfamiliar with the process, you need to go to “Settings” at the top of the screen, click on the “Labs” tab, and scroll down until you find “Inserting images”.  Once you have it up and running you’ll see an icon up in the tools that will let you insert images from your own hard drive, or even enter the URL of an image from a website and it will be inserted.

gmail-pictureWhy this particular feature took so long to be added is a mystery, but it is even bigger mystery why absolutely new feature that comes to Gmail has been part of Labs lately instead of just added directly to the service.  An even bigger mystery is why when they do add these features, they show up in Gmail, but not their Apps version of the service that webmasters use for quite some time.  A universal roll out of these new features would be nice, and it would also be nice to see them be situations where users don’t have to go and turn them on.  We can at least all dream of that day.

Categories: Google, News   

audiomicroAudioMicro, the royalty free music provider, has teamed up with the Blastwave FX Sound Effects Library to add 32,000 more sound effects to their library.

Just last month we brought you the news that AudioMicro had teamed up with Family Guy composer Ron Jones to add 170 original pieces of music to their library, and now they are bringing content producers a whopping 32,000 sound effects. This new collection of sounds brings things such as ambience, animals, impacts, guns, science fiction, whooshes and more to the collection, royalty free, for those looking to make their own videos for sites such as YouTube.

Royalty free music and sound effects have become a more vital part of the online video landscape due to copyright holders looking harder and harder at unlicensed use of their works on various sites.  This has been a quick way to get videos you may have labored on tirelessly for days to be removed from a lot of sites.  Luckily if you pay for royalty free music, this will never be a concern for you, and as odd as it may sound to some people, even hearing a gun fire can be a copyrighted work.

This is probably going to become a bigger issue in the coming years due to the ease with which people can make videos now.  With cameras such as the Flip, which just about anyone can easily run, people are producing videos in unimaginable numbers.  So if you feel the need to add a slipping sound to your father falling down while shoveling snow, just make sure it is one you have the right to use.

Categories: News   

harpers islandCBS has release an iPhone application which may spell out the future of television and mobile phone convergence.

Television shows being promoted via exclusive mobile phone content is not anything new, but having an entire application built around one show is.  Starting on April 9th, CBS will be launching a limited 13 episode series entitled Harper’s Island which is a murder mystery dealing with a series of deaths on a small island near Seattle, WA.

This is an unusual format for an American television series, and hence will require some unique promotion on the part of the network.  What the Harper’s Island iPhone application (iTunes link) does is provide viewers with extra information about the history of the island and its inhabitants via clippings from the fictions Harper’s Globe newspaper archives.  It also focuses heavily on a series of murders known as the “Wakefield Murders” that happened seven years before the happenings of the series.

While we are sure you will be able to enjoy the series without the information contained in this application, it does sound like it might enhance your enjoyment of the show.  What we think is interesting is that according to a quote in Broadcasting & Cable from Jeff Sellinger, Executive-VP and general manager CBS Mobile, this is but the first of many applications to come.  “We’re absolutely going to do more,” he said.  He also went on to add “the company is also exploring applications for Blackberrys as well as Apple iPhones.”  (although we wonder the confusion there at the end since this is for an iPhone…)  So this could be the first of many applications coming out that aim to enhance your enjoyment of various television shows.  Who wouldn’t want a 24 application that helps you track the number of people Jack Bauer has killed?

The application is available now in the iTunes store for free, and the television series premieres on April 9th.

Categories: Mobile Phones, News   

FriendFeedPopular lifestreaming service FriendFeed launched a new version today, and boy does it feel familiar.

FriendFeed launched their new beta version today at, and while we love the new color scheme (the old one was almost too white), the resemblance to the Twitter layout is striking.  Using the two-column setup has long been a standard in Web design, but it almost feels like this is too close for comfort to the look and feel of the popular microblogging service.

As you can see from the below images, this is so radically different from the original version of the service that it almost feels like a completel different service.


And the new version:


While the old version did also utilize a two-column feel, flipping it to the other side, boxing in the controls and adding an avatar next to all activity really did change the feel of the system.  This isn’t to say it’s a bad thing, quite the contrary.  I have belonged to FriendFeed since almost the day it launched, but I have not been a heavy user of the service because it always felt a little too jumbled and difficult to follow who was saying what.  This is a much cleaner user interface, and one that feels like it will be far easier to follow the conversations.

Continuing the Twitter like inspiration, that have also made it far easier for you to post an update to what you are doing with a box at the top of the page that can also be crossposted to your Twitter account.  They have also added the ability to send direct messages to other users, another favorite feature of Twitter users.

Overall we like the new look and feel of the service, but it certainly isn’t breaking any fresh ground.

Categories: News   

It would seem customers renting Blu-ray discs through Netflix are about to be paying a bit more for the service.

For a while now Netflix has been adding a $1 on to the monthly subscription price of anyone wanted to rent Blu-ray discs.  Effective April 27th, this rate will be going to $2 a month due to the ever increasing number of titles available on Blu-ray that they are having to purchase.

From their official blog entry on the subject:

The number of titles available for us to purchase on Blu-ray has increased significantly. Our Blu-ray selection has grown more than 60% in just 6 months to over 1,300 titles, and is continuing to expand quickly. Blu-ray adoption among our members has also grown – it’s now close to 10%. As we buy more, you are able to choose from a rapidly expanding selection of Blu-ray titles. And as you’ve probably heard, Blu-ray discs are substantially more expensive than standard definition DVDs – often as much as 30% more.

Here is how their subscription packages will now breakdown as of the change over.

1 DVD out at-a-time (2 DVDs a month)
Monthly plan cost: $4.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $1
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $5.99

1 DVD out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $8.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $2
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $10.99

2 DVDs out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $13.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $3
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $16.99

3 DVDs out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $16.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $4
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $20.99

4 DVDs out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $23.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $5
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $28.99

5 DVDs out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $29.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $6
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $35.99

6 DVDs out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $35.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $7
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $42.99

7 DVDs out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $41.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $8
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $49.99

8 DVDs out at-a-time (Unlimited)
Monthly plan cost: $47.99
Additional monthly charge for Blu-ray access on this plan: $9
Monthly plan cost with Blu-ray access: $56.99

Categories: News   

hulu_logoIf the rumors are to be believed, streaming video service Hulu may soon have three of the four biggest broadcast networks showing their content on their site.

According to paidContent, ABC is deep in talks with Hulu about bring shows such as LOST, Desperate Housewives and others to the popular streaming video site.  If this comes to be, that means that ABC, Fox and NBC/Universal will all be using the site for their online content distribution.

The biggest question would be why ABC, which has been streaming videos on their own site and those of local affilites for quite some time now, would want to partner up with a third-party service.  According to sources, Hulu streamed 333 million videos in February after their big advertising push during the Super Bowl.  This made them the fourth biggest video site in the United States with 2.5% of the online video market.  While not huge, it is bigger than the networks each trying to stream their own content.

If this would come to be, it would certainly set up an interesting dynamic for broadcast television.  Would the sales of their shows on sites such as iTunes begin to dwindle?  And the bigger question is at what point does everyone just give up on tuning into the original broadcasts?  Between all of the options out there now to watch shows when and how you like, why should we continue to be slaves to the programming schedules of the networks?  So what if we watch it 6 hours or a day after it airs so long as we see it.  This is a great move for the consumers, but not sure how good it is for the networks in the long run.

Categories: News, Video   

onstar twitterThere is a rumor going around that OnStar and Twitter may be teaming up for one of the oddest partnerships wet’ve ever heard of.

According to GearLive, they recently were asked by an OnStar survey how they would feel about the possability of using Twitter through their built-in service.

“While in your vehicle, you can use OnStar to submit and retrieve tweets (messages) via your Twitter account. Using OnStar’s Voice-Activated Hands-Free Calling system, and having your voice converted into text, you can provide updates which would appear in the “What are you doing?” section of your Twitter homepage. It is also possible to listen to a tweet that was sent to you by someone else after it has been converted into voice. You can send and receive tweets without having to type or read anything.”

Well, it’s an interesting idea to say the least, but can you imagine listening to your entire friend’s stream while driving down the road?  And what happens when it gets to a shortened URL?  Is it going to read that to you also?  We could see it possibly be interesting if it could be set to only read replies and direct messages to you, but listening to your unfiltered friend’s Tweets while driving down the road… I would liken that to having my ears bleed.

It is an interesting concept, and if truly under consideration, it shows just haw far into the mainstream Twitter has gone.  The mind boggles at the number of items we could see Twitter gradually getting integrated into.  “Honey, I was making toast and the toaster showed you had a Tweet from your brother…”

Categories: News   

circuit city logoCircuit City has announced that their stores will close for good as of March 8th.

Ahead of their original schedule, all of the final Circuit City stores will close this coming Sunday, March 8th.  Originally they were scheduled to close at the end of March, and that was then moved up to March 15th, but due to the success of their liquidation sales, that has been moved up again by a week.

As we originally posted, the Circuit City liquidation sale was brought on by the weakened economy, and they simply so no other solution but to close all of their stores after 60 years in business.  While they had always had a mixed reputation with consumers due to pricing, policies and practices, it is never a pleasant thing to see a company go out of business.

Categories: News, Opinion, Shopping   

amazon kindle logoAmazon has announced that they are bringing the ability to read Kindle formatted ebooks to the iPhone and iPod Touch.

If you’ve been envious of all the ebooks that are available for the Amazon Kindle, but haven’t wanted to pay $359 for the actual reader, there is now an option for iPhone and iPod Touch owners.  Amazon has released Kindle for iPhone (iTunes link) that will allow you to buy the books and read them on the device of your choice.  If you also own a Kindle, you can have the books on both devices, and thanks to Amazon’s Whispersync technology, you can start reading a book on one device, and wherever you leave off will be synced with the other device so you can go back and forth between them to continue reading your book.

While reading on the Kindle may seem a bit cumbersome, I can’t imagine reading an entire book on a screen the size of an iPod Touch.  It seems like an exercise in eye torture to those of us here at StarterTech.

For those that want to give it a go, the actual app is free, and the books will cost you.

amazon kindle screen

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, News, Opinion   
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