The Roku set-top box will stream movies from Netflix in HD by the end of the year, according to a post written to the company’s forums over the weekend.
You may have seen a slick-looking new UMPC from Toshiba that is appearing on the web today and wondered if that thing looked familiar. You would be correct, Toshiba was exhibiting this MID in January at the CES and we had a chance to play with it for a while. They were showing two versions of this device, one running Vista and the other Linux. Here are the photos we took in the Toshiba booth:
Fueled by the purchase of Club Penguin and other success stories, the market for virtual worlds designed for children/teens keeps booming. Om just passed me word that Trinity Ventures is investing in Fluid Entertainment, a Mill Valley, Calif.-based developer now working on a “green kids world” with ecological themes. (Alert to Katie!) For Trinity, this adds another game property to a venture funding roster that includes casual/women-oriented game developer Play First.
One of the CES highlights we previously mentioned has a nice follow up today. James and I had the pleasure of sitting down in the Press Room with Ian Dixon to talk tech earlier this month and the interview is available today. Our history with Ian goes way back to early 2005, nearly three years ago, when we were involved in one of the first commercial podcast ventures together. We’ve all since gone our separate ways, and it’s been real treat to watch Ian’s continued successes such as his book, his MVP Award and his popular podcast. In short: he’s fun and personable, not to mention passionate about technology.In his CES wrap-up, we chat about our various mobile devices with Ian (who’s also a Samsung Q1 owner) and discuss our take on the coming year for UMPCs, MIDs and WiMAX. You can also catch CES opinions of many other great folks like Stephen Hughes, Chris Lanier and more. Thanks again Ian; always a pleasure to meet with you!
As a writer I am always looking for tools that let me practice my craft without having to carry such a wide range of bulky tools with me. It is fortunate that as a writer the tools can be a lot more basic than those needed for a lot of other tasks that people use mobile gadgets for. A good keyboard, screen, word processor and internet connection will pretty much do it as far as most writing projects are concerned.
Since spending a bit of time with the Celio CEO, Kirt Bailey, and seeing first-hand what their Redfly device can do, I have been giving a lot of thought as to how the Redfly could be a great tool for the writer. The Redfly basically is just a screen and keyboard in a mini-laptop form that can connect to a Windows Mobile smartphone. The Redfly has no storage, memory nor processor, it uses the phone for all of that. It simply adds a bigger keyboard and screen to make interacting with the Windows Moble device easier to do. It seems to me that this could be a perfect solution for the writer, allowing him/ her to carry just the phone and the Redfly which is smaller than the Asus EEE PC.
While giving this a lot of thought I realized that I had a pretty good setup to test this with the HTC Advantage. I often use the Advantage, a Windows Mobile 6 running device, with the Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard, and HTC has also included a VGA monitor dongle to connect a PC screen to the Advantage. I figured that I could do a test using the Advantage, the wireless keyboard and a PC monitor to duplicate the functionality of the Redfly. This wouldn’t be anywhere near as elegant as the Redfly solution since it is a self-contained device with both the screen and keyboard but it would give me a feel for what it would be like to work on the Advantage with a bigger keyboard and screen. So that is what I did and this article is the result. It was created solely on the Advantage running with an external keyboard and display.
Word Mobile on the big screen
I just noticed that Jenn of Pocketables posted a tutorial for connecting a monitor to the Advantage, good timing. 🙂 Note that in the photos I have included in this article that I am using a 19 inch monitor displaying a VGA screen so of course everything looks large and garish. This won’t be the case with the Redfly as that screen looks to be a little less than 7 inches which should display VGA pretty well. What we’ll have to wait until the Redfly is released to see is how big that keyboard is. It looked about the same size of the keyboard on the EEE PC which is right on the edge of usability for touch typing. I’m thinking the Redfly keyboard will work but we’ll see.
The end result of this test proves to me that the concept of the Redfly as a phone extender could be very beneficial to those who do a lot of writing or document work. Road warriors who work with a lot of email could also find the Redfly to be pretty darn useful without taking up much room in the travel kit. I found in my test that Windows Mobile worked well with a larger screen and I had no issues at all. I can’t wait to get my hands on a Redfly to really test this out. It could be the ultimate in portability for the type of work that I do.
Working with email
Web work is a breeze
The trip to Vegas was full of gear usage, running around exhaustedly and of course introspection as I always look back on trips like this and give a good thought to what gadgets I took with me. Guess what my most-used gadget was? No, it wasn’t the venerable HTC Advantage that let us live-blog from the show floor and no, it wasn’t the HP 2710p which let me do anything I needed to do no matter where I was, even encoding video on the run. Nope, it was the one thing that stays in my travel bag no matter what else I switch out. It is the Monster Outlets to Go power strip that I find incredibly useful to take on every single trip I take. It is simply perfectly designed to do what I need for power. Thanks Marc! ‘Nuff said.
One of my personal CES 2008 highlights was working with Warner Crocker in front of a PodTech camera. We both got the opportunity to share our thoughts around Intel and the MIDs that are upcoming. We’re just a few of the many particpants in this video; I think Warner has more camera time, but I hear he’s got a better agent. 😉 Thanks to Catherine and the other great folks at PodTech for the opportunity!
It is so nice being back at home after the exhausting grind that is the CES and I am finally getting back into the swing of "normal" life. One of the residual tasks facing me upon my return was getting all of the dozens of business cards I received into my Outlook contacts database. Entering so many cards into Outlook is no fun no matter how you approach it and I put it off until late yesterday until I remembered something about the HP 2710p Tablet PC that I always forget I can do.
One of the coolest features of the HP is a utility that is pre-installed called Presto BizCard. This utility works with the integrated web cam of the HP to digitize business cards photographically into an internal database that can then be synchronized with Outlook. Since I was confronted with inputting so many cards I decided to give this a whirl and see how well it worked.
There is a tiny slot on the front of the 2710p (laptop mode) just above the screen latch where you insert a business card. With BizCard running you hit a button to snap a card and a preview window appears with a red box imposed on it to show where the card needs to be for interpretation. All you do is start to close the screen slowly and when the web cam, which has been switched to macro mode, gets the right distance from the card you hear a series of beeps that tells you a photo of the card is about to be snapped. When BizCard snaps the card you hear a camera shutter sound and you can open the screen back up to see what it’s done. In a few seconds BizCard then does a text recognition of the business card and opens an editing window so minor corrections can be made. There are always a few edits needed since every business card is so different but it is overall accurate in determining not only the text on the card but putting the different items into the appropriate field such as "mobile phone". BizCard keeps its own database that includes the interpreted cards and also the photos of the cards which is a handy reference that lets you throw the card away. Once I had a bunch of cards processed and edited I then told BizCard to export them to Outlook which took only a minute. It was very cool and much easier than trying to enter all of these cards manually. This is a very practical use of cool technology and I am very glad that HP included it with the 2710p.
One of the coolest and most successful promotions I have seen was conducted by the folks who produce the Jawbone Bluetooth headset. The Jawbone uses advanced noise cancellation technology and is a well regarded headset although they were too pricey for me the last time I checked into them. The promotion they were running all week at CES was simple yet effective, anyone who came to their booth and traded in their existing headset got a brand new fully charged Jawbone headset for free. This was very popular as you might guess and yesterday I dropped in and traded my old headset in for the Jawbone. It was indeed fully charged which was important as those wearing a headset likely needed to keep doing so before getting to a charging location. I have only used it for less than a day but I have to say I am very impressed with the quality of the noise cancellation. For a test I called Kevin on the Jawbone from a tremendously noisy location (I picked it on purpose) and he said he couldn’t tell I was on a headset as the audio was crystal clear. It is a nice headset although a bit bulky and ugly but hey, free is a good price. 🙂
Kevin and I want to shout out a big thanks to our families for letting us take off for a week to come to the CES. It’s always toughest on them and we really appreciate letting us drop out of reality and head for Vegas. Thanks Sheri and Barb for putting up with our geekiness and supporting what we do, we really appreciate it tremendously! We’ll be home soon!