Archive for April, 2012

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble join forces

In a bold move to become the next e-reader kings, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble have teamed up to develop the next generation of Nooks for Barnes & Noble.

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble join forces

Microsoft announced today a $300-million investment in Barnes & Noble that will bring together the Nook and Windows 8. As part of the deal, the next-generation Nook will operate with Windows 8 when it launches later this year.

With the popularity of the Kindle Fire and new iPad, it’s good to see Barnes & Noble take the necessary steps to stay relevant in the market. The bookselling company seems committed to its Nook line and bringing in Microsoft could just be what Barnes & Noble needs to push its e-readers to the next level. In turn, Microsoft will receive more apps and content it desperately needs for its Windows mobile platform. However, I’m wondering if the effort from Barnes & Noble is coming a little too late.

Also, while this pairing can be beneficial for both companies, I’m still surprised these “frenemies” decided to join forces in the first place. The firms had been entangled in the courts for the past year over accusations of patent infringement, but it seems they have put their squabble aside.

Does Microsoft and Barnes & Noble new partnership sound like a good idea? Or, are most e-reader consumers already comfortable with their Kindle Fire or iPad?

Leave a comment

FTC gets serious in Google investigation

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday sent a big signal to Google that it’s not taking the investigation over antitrust issues lightly with the hiring of a prominent litigator. While federal regulators have not made a decision whether take the internet mogul to court, bringing on a litigator is not a good sign for the folks at Google.

The investigation is circling around whether Google’s search engine technology has been abused to keep competing websites and products from popping up near the top of user searches. While a suit filing would likely be months away, execs at Google must be sweating.

This could be the biggest showdown between technology and government since the Microsoft case 14 years ago. I’ll monitor how the Google case will play out in the next couple months.

To read more about the Google’s antitrust investigation, click here.

Do you think the FTC will file against the Internet giant? Or will Google keep hold of its power?

Leave a comment

How much is too much for a data plan?

Results from a survey conducted by Park Associates were released today, revealing the cost mobile users are willing to pay for their data plan. According to their findings, two-thirds of those surveyed were unwilling to pay for than $50 for their monthly data plan (which would be my limit as well). However, more interesting, the survey also found that half of the participants survey have no clue how much data they use.

As carriers are turning away from unlimited data plans and ushering reluctant consumers to tier data plans, it’s important mobile users are know how much data they consume on a monthly basis. Not only does this keep up from digging in our couch cushions to pay unnecessary costs, but helps carriers with data management.

With mobile adding smartphones and tablets to their gadget lineup, getting up to speed on your personal data use is beneficial. The only thing that may annoy mobile users, aside from increasing data plan costs, is throttling, or having their bandwidth reduced by their provider. Buy purchasing a tier plan that fits your needs, you can avoid lags at the end of the month cause by throttling.

How much are you willing to pay for a mobile data plan? Have you reluctantly switched to a tiered plan?

Leave a comment

Mobile provide settles service and billing dispute with state

Frustrated customers of Wisconsin Rapids-based service provide Element Mobile can let out a sigh of relief today. Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection officials say they’re close to reaching a settle with Element Mobile, a firm that racked up 672 written complaints with the DATCP in 2011, one of the highest complaint levels against a business in the state. 

Disgruntled Element Mobile customers to receive compensation

Many Element Mobile customers experienced billing errors, poor service and unresponsive customer service.  While a large number of the complaints occurred during a transition when Element Mobile took over service across an eight-county area previously managed by Alltel Wireless, it seemed Element Mobile did little to resolve issues with customers and continued to bill them for service.

After an DATCP investigation, officials announced today that Element Mobile users will be eligible for refunds, contract outs and possibly a cash settlement to be made available by this summer.

Technology problems combined with poor customer service on top of billing errors can easily be a mobile user’s worst nightmare. It’s good to see some Wisconsin residents get the compensation they deserve.

Leave a comment

Android announces more devices to get Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung mobile and tablets users can now check to see if their device is next in line to receive Android’s latest Ice Cream Sandwich software update.

Ice Cream Sandwich coming to more devices soon

 AT&T customer using the Galaxy S II, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, Captivate Glide, and Nexus S smartphones are slated to get the software update as well as Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy users.

Mobile users with Verizon with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the Galaxy Tab 7.7 will be getting a bite of Ice Cream Sandwich.

It’s a little unclear what devices with T-Mobile and Sprint will be getting the Android update. However, Samsung claims it has been working with both carriers to decide which devices will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich.

While there is no specific time frame on when these carries and devices will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich, Samsung is confident the updates will be available in the new future.

Leave a comment

Texting while driving topic at ‘Teen State Summit’

Students from around the state head to Wisconsin Dells tomorrow to discuss the impact of texting while driving. Students from Oak Creek High School, in partnership with the Wisconsin State Patrol, AT&T and the Wisconsin Family Career and Community Leaders of America, organized the Teen State Summit to reinforce the message among their peers of the dangers of texting while driving.

Aside from discussing ways to discourage texting while driving, participants will watch the documentary “The Last Text” about individuals whose lives were drastically changed by the consequences of texting while driving.

While PSAs and adults (who are sometimes guilty themselves) have warned teens about the risks of texting while driving, or any kind of distracted driving. I’m happy to see students take the issue into their own hands to discourage their peers from texting behind the wheel.

Leave a comment

Tech Review: Samsung Galaxy Aviator

Given that my personal cell provider is US Cellular, I was pretty excited to get my hands on its first 4G LTE device and potentially my new smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S Aviator.

The Aviator’s touch screen measures in at 4.3 inches. The size seemed to be a good compromise between practicality and flashiness. The screen is big enough to text, watch videos and browse web pages easily, but sleek enough where it doesn’t feel like an inconvenience to tote around. Actually, if two features that you look for in a mobile are thin and lightweight, I would definitely look into the Aviator.

Aside from the design, a few other notable features include the camera and HDMI output. The 8 – megapixel rear camera takes good pictures, similar to that of the iPhone 4s or Galaxy S Skyrocket. The HDMI output allows users to connect to other devices to watch videos or movies on bigger screens. While I’m not that savvy on how to utilize the HDMI port, it seems pretty convenient if that’s your thing.

The Aviator’s biggest draw is its 4G LTE capability. I was expecting the device to default to the 4G LTE setting, but I found I had to do some Google work to switch the settings. Through my searches, I also found that keeping your mobile in 3G unless you’re doing heavy web surfing or downloading will make a significant impact on your battery life. So if battery life is important, try keeping it in 3G whenever possible.

When I did switch the Aviator to 4G LTE, there was I a dramatic improvement when running the applications and browsing the web. Loading and streaming videos had little buffering time, and downloading web pages was a breeze. Unfortunately, the 4G LTE network is currently only available in some areas including Madison,  Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Appleton, Monroe, Platteville and Portage, so Wisconsin residents outside elsewhere in the state won’t be able to take advantage of the 4G LTE network just yet.

Tech Review: Samsung Galaxy Aviator

Aside from network issues, I hope the device is in the running for the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update. Straight out the box, the Aviator currently runs Android’s Gingerbread platform, which is fine for the short term. Though as newer devices are coming out with Ice Cream Sandwich, it would be good to see an update made available for the Aviator to keep it as current as possible.

Generally, I like US Cellular’s choice to go with the Samsung Aviator as its first 4G LTE smartphone. As I mentioned earlier, the device is flashy but still user friendly and includes all the bells and whistles you could want in a smartphone. In the future, I’d like to see a software upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich and less work to connect to 4G LTE.

The Aviator is currently available for $199 with a two-year contract in most US Cellular stores. However, if you live in one of US Cellular’s new 4G LTE network areas, you will receive a $100 rebate and only pay $99 for the Aviator.  Though I had problems with the 4G LTE network initially, it’s still worth going into a US Cellular store and seeing it for yourself, especially for only $99.

Leave a comment