Archive for October, 2011

Tech Blog Review: Sprint Epic 4G Touch

The Samsung Epic 4G Touch, in contrast to the AT&T Impulse we profiled last week, has an enormous screen at 4.5 inches. We’ve dubbed it the Multimedia Monster. The color and quality is amazing, but we found that it was so large, that folks with smaller hands might have difficulty with it.

The Epic 4G Touch is based on the Samsung Galaxy S II family profile similar to phones available from other carriers. Like those, it has a plastic-like feel, especially on the rear of the phone. Initially we found this a bit disconcerting, but you get used to it after a while.

The upside to the plastic nature of the phone is that it is very lightweight. Like the Galaxy S II, it is extremely thin and light. When held next to or at the same time as a phone like the iPhone 4, it feels feather light.

The huge screen is excellent for web surfing and multimedia and the camera boasts some of the best quality we have seen in an Android phone.

If you can handle the size, this Epic 4G Touch, like the Galaxy S II, is an excellent and top end device experience.

The Sprint Epic 4G Touch is $199.99 with a two-year contract through local Wisconsin Sprint stores, online at Sprint.com and through local big box retailers.

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Tech blog review: Impulse 4G

We have been playing with the AT&T Impulse 4G for a while now and found it is a great little phone and an excellent value. This is the kind of phone that reminds you that you don’t necessarily have to make a big investment in a cell phone to get the features that an average user will be quite happy with over the life of the phone.

The phone, produced by Huawei for AT&T, is small (3.8″ screen) in comparison to a lot of the new Android phones we have profiled recently. But the feel of the material and the light weight of the device make it easy to use. Plus, the screen quality is excellent.

The phone does not disappoint: It speedily attacks tasks and works great for e-mail, web surfing, video and taking photos. The software does feel a bit dated, mainly because it does not have the bloated manufacturer overlay that a lot of the latest phones have. But it’s something you can easily adapt to, in our opinion.

Obviously the key number for this phone is $29.99, its cost with a two-year contract from AT&T.  This price point provides a great opportunity for young people or people who cannot afford the latest $300+ phone on the market.

The Impulse 4G became available Sept. 18 for $29.99 with a two-year contract through local Wisconsin AT&T stores, online at att.com and through local big box retailers.

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Nokia unveils new Windows 7 Smartphones for Europe and Asia

Yesterday, Finnish cell phone company Nokia unveiled the Lumia 800 and 710, two new smart phones that run on Microsoft’s Windows 7 software.

Nokia Lumia 800

Over the past few years, smartphone competitors have trounced Nokia’s market share. Nokia’s hope is that the Lumia 800 and 710 will win back customers from smartphone competitors, such as Apple’s iPhone and smartphones powered by Google’s Android software. Equipped with Windows 7 Software, these are the first Windows phones for Nokia.

Nokia Lumia 710

In November, the Lumia 800 will be introduced to select European countries, including France. Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain. By the end of the year, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 will be sold in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan.

The phones were highly anticipated; unfortunately for those of us in Wisconsin/the USA, we will not see them until the first quarter of 2012.

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Wired Wisconsin’s unveils Broadband and Wireless Investment and Jobs Tracker

An initiative by technology advocacy group Wired Wisconsin to track technology investment in Wisconsin has released its first estimate. From July through September of this year, estimated private investment in broadband infrastructure totals more than $12 million and has created 604 jobs.

The investment comes after the passage of the Wisconsin’s Telecom Modernization Act earlier this year, which allowed telecom companies to focus their resources on implementing broadband and wireless technologies instead of wired landlines.

Wired Wisconsin plans to continue tracking investment and job creation in the telecom industry on a quarterly basis. We are excited to see future reports on wireless and broadband investment in Wisconsin as these technologies become
crucial to economic and business development. What do you think?

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Wisconsin’s One-Year Anniversary of No Texting While Driving Ban

At the Wisconsin State Capitol today, lawmakers along with the Wisconsin State Patrol, AAA and AT&T came together to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the signing of Wisconsin’s ban on texting while driving.

After going into effect Dec. 1, 2010, this law prohibits Wisconsin drivers from sending an e-mail or text message while driving.  Wisconsin is one of 34 states that had banned texting while driving, and here in Wisconsin, violators face a fine of $400.

In the past year, new applications, such as DriveMode, have been launched to help keep drivers safe while on the road.

DriveMode is part of AT&T’s national public awareness campaign to highlight the risks of texting and driving.  AT&T is currently partnering with AAA to reach out to teenage drivers to help warn them about the dangerous consequences of texting with driving. In addition, the AAA has also launched a national initiative to ban texting while driving in every state by 2013.With this free app, DriveMode, sends customizable auto-reply messages to incoming texts and emails, letting the sender know that the user is driving. Another safety feature from this app is that it allows for calls to be sent directly to voicemail.

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U-verse takes another step into the great wireless world

AT&T announced earlier today that U-verse customers soon will have the option of switching to the first wireless receiver available from any television provider. With the new receiver, U-verse customers can watch television in any room, including those that do not have an existing U-verse outlet and even outside, which could be a boon to diehard Packers fans who can’t make it up to Lambeau but still want that frozen tundra experience.

What do we like about this announcement? The new U-verse wireless receiver is plug-and-play with no required hardwiring for technicians. The only connections that need to be made are to the TV and a power outlet. U-verse also has a wireless signal strength indicator to help find the best place for the receiver in your house.

According to AT&T U-verse customers can place an order for the U-verse wireless receiver starting October 31.

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Is Nest the start of a new revolution?

Call it a good marketing campaign, call it innovation – during this current news cycle, there’s been a lot of buzz about a new home thermostat from Nest Laboratories, called the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The brains behind Nest is a team led by Tony Fadell, a former Apple engineer that helped create the first 18 generations of the iPod, and Matt Rogers, who was involved in the iPod’s software development.

While this is not a product review, the concept behind Nest is quite cool as you can see by this video. Which leads us to wonder, what other applications can be made from the folks that first brought us the iPod, iPhone and other similar, innovative communication technologies and applications?

The tagline for Nest seems to capture where we think this company, and the others that are sure to follow, might be headed: Technology should be about more than newest, loudest, prettiest. It should make a difference.

We’re intrigued to watch what every day items Nest will tackle going forward.

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