Sharp Mebius NJ With Optical Trackpad at Dynamism

Kevin told us about the Sharp Mebius NJ when word first came out about this cool notebook with an optical screen for a trackpad. The Mebius uses a multi-touch display for the trackpad which functions as a secondary display that can do a lot of things in addition to working as a standard trackpad. The Mebius NJ is a notebook for the Asian market but our friends at Dynamism have already got this baby for sale. It starts at $999, so you’ll pay for the cool factor; but you’ll be the only kid on the block with one, so you may find it worth the price. The NJ is expected to hit the ground in June, according to Dynamism, so you have time to think about it.
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GigaOM Spring Cleaning: Motorola and Others Hit the Dustbin

We’re no rating agency here at GigaOM, but Om and I got together this week to figure out our coverage priorities for the coming months — let’s call it a spring cleaning — and decided there are five companies that we’re just not going to spend a lot of time on anymore. Nortel (S NT) , AMD (s AMD), Motorola (s MOT), Vonage (s VG) and Alcatel-Lucent (s ALU) are getting the boot.
We’re making room for five companies that we think deserve a little more attention and/or deeper scrutiny: Qualcomm (s QCOM), MetroPCS (s PCS), Huawei, Juniper Networks (s JNPR) and Clearwire (s CLWR). All but Huawei are public companies, but Huawei is big enough to matter. This isn’t to say there aren’t tens of other companies we plan to cover closely, but since we’ve essentially upgraded a few and downgraded these others, we figured you guys might care to know what we’re thinking. If not, just skip our rationale below: Read More about GigaOM Spring Cleaning: Motorola and Others Hit the Dustbin

Become a Mac Power User: System Preferences

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The great thing about using Apple (s aapl) computers (loaded with OS X of course), is that some of the tasks that can be frustrating and difficult on another operating system are simple and possibly even fun. So assuming you’ve got a handle on using that Mac of yours, it’s probably time to step it up, and work even smarter with your Macintosh. Here are five System Preferences tips that should start you well on the road to becoming a Power User.

Spaces (look for: Exposé & Spaces)

spaces_iconExpand on the workspace available to you, and organize your work all at once. Spaces gives you multiple desktops (also known as ‘virtual desktops’) with which to group your open applications. Some people like to group by activity (work, play, etc) while others may group by application (internet, documents, graphics, etc), and still others may group by project (website, movie, photography). There’s no hard and fast rule that requires you to categorize in any of these ways (I don’t), so figure out what works best for you. Spaces can be configured via the System Preferences application, and you can assign hotkeys and edges of your screen for navigation between your desktops. Oh, and there’s even a twenty-thousand foot view, where you can see all desktops at once, complete with the open windows in each. Read More about Become a Mac Power User: System Preferences

Comcast Is Now 3rd Largest U.S. Phone Company*

enhanced-cordless-phoneUpdate: If shabby treatment of its customers and draconian policies are any indication, then Comcast (s CMCSA) has been behaving like a plain-old phone company for a long time. I say that because the company emailed us today to let us know that it’s now the third-largest residential phone company in the U.S., ahead of Qwest (s Q). While not as innovative as, say, Cablevision, I see Comcast as a fast follower with the ability to sell me-too products in volume. The Philadelphia-based cable operator offers “Digital Voice” IP-based phone service in 39 states to 6.47 million customers.

I’m surprised that it’s managed to sign up so many customers, considering that its packages are anything but cheap. Comcast is not the only one selling a lot of voice connections — other cable operators such as Time Warner Cable (s TWC) are doing well and putting the hurt on traditional phone companies. The rising fortune of cable companies’ voice business is in sharp contrast to dedicated VoIP service providers like Vonage (s V), which has been struggling to keep its early momentum. (Related Posts: Who killed the VoIP revolution? and Is Cable VoIP getting a sore throat?)

Update: * Qwest says it has 7.8 million lines, and as a result Comcast’s claim may not be quite right, though we wonder if Q is including its enterprise customers in the total to bolster its claim. We checked with them, and as expected, these include 1.3 million small business users and 6.5 million residential users. From that perspective, Comcast did make a legit claim.

Verizon Shutting Down VoIP Service

[qi:090] Five years after it launched Voicewing by rebranding DeltaThree, Verizon (s VZ) is shutting down the VoIP service that never managed to get any traction. It was launched to compete with Vonage. AT&T (s t) stopped signing up new customers for CallVantage, another Vonage competitor, in 2008. Voicewing will be shut down on March 31, and will most likely be replaced by FiOS Digital Voice, a new offering. The decision will almost certainly push DeltaThree over the edge — the company has been running out of cash and has already been delisted from Nasdaq.

VoIP: Dead or Alive?

wantedposterFor the past few days, the VoIP community has been indulging in a bit of soul-searching. The debate: Is VoIP dead? To pragmatists such as Alec Saunders, the answer is yes. In his well-reasoned polemic, “2008: The Year VoIP Died,” he succinctly writes, “Voice over IP is just a transport and signaling technology. It’s plumbing.” Harsh, but true!

Of course, on the other side of the debate are folks such as Jeff Pulver and Jon Arnold, both with deep interests in the success of VoIP, who seem to think that VoIP is in for a renaissance. Pulver argues that we are going through Internet Communications Continuum, or “the continued evolution of the IP Communications Industry. In my case, this continuum represents all forms of IP Communications, including: VoIP, Instant Messaging, Presence, IP Signaling, Internet TV, Unified Communications, Social Media and more.”

They continue to think of VoIP as a revolution. The reality, however, is more mundane and as Alec said, boring. Where do we come out on this debate? On the side of realism. About two months ago, Ian Bell on our behalf analyzed the state of VoIP and why it was “dead.” We were egged on by some comments made by Skype’s general manager of voice and video, Jonathan Christensen, at an industry conference a few weeks ago.

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Can You Compare New Media to Old?

Chuck Klosterman once wrote that the phrase “comparing apples to oranges” to reference the contrast of two different things was dumb because in many ways apples and oranges are actually very similar (small, round fruits). Recently at least two stories have run comparing online video to its traditional media counterparts, but are these accurate comparisons, or do we need to rethink how to correlate new media with the old?

Variety ran a piece yesterday saying that the 160,000 plays Wayne Wang’s feature-length film The Princess of Nebraska attracted on YouTube (the only place, online or off, that it ran) was the equivalent of that movie placing 15th at the box office over the weekend. Curious about that stat, I contacted Ray Price, who spearheads marketing for the film’s distributor Magnolia Pictures, to see where the company was getting that number.
Price’s thinking was that since 150,000 people went to see the independent documentary Religulous this past weekend which was at number 16, Princess’ 160,000 views beat that.
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Did Comcast Just Admit to Vonage Traffic-shaping?

I received an emailed press release from Comcast this morning about their plans to work with Vonage to address “the reasonable network management of Internet services” that left me a tad confused. Comcast had already admitted to massaging P2P traffic, sparking an online uproar that resulted in the company backing down and announcing plans to use different kinds of network management techniques. (They massaged P2P traffic by either delaying or blocking P2P packets outright, which caused BitTorrent-type services to degrade.)

In an attempt to uncover the real reason behind the release, I called a Comcast spokeswoman and asked her if this was an exclusive deal with Vonage, and if any money was changing hands. She said that the agreement doesn’t preclude others from working with Comcast, that in fact it’s working with a variety of companies and groups. And no, there is no money changing hands.

Still, the press release kept nagging at me. Read More about Did Comcast Just Admit to Vonage Traffic-shaping?