Monday, November 26, 2012

Nokia 206 brings new technology, design to classic feature phone

The feature phone is not dead. Nokia is bringing new life to these guys from "back in the day" with their announcement of the Nokia 206 today. So long live the alphanumeric keyboard.

This classic design has a 2.4-inch display and comes in single and dual-SIM versions. The camera is nothing to brag about at 1.3 megapixels and it also has video capture. But the camera is optimized for sharing pictures - let's say on Facebook - at around 700KB. The downsizing is done automatically.

But here is something to brag about. Nokia is claiming 20 hours of talk time in battery life for the single-SIM version, with a 47-day standby mode. That's over month without recharging. The dual-SIM model has a lower 25-day standby time.

As for memory, there is 10 megabytes of user memory, along with a slot that accept a 32-gigabyte SD card.

Nokia did manage to incorporate some nifty technology into the feature phone platform. Their "Slam" technology allows the sharing of items over Bluetooth, but you don't have to pair the phones. Their "Xpress Browser" allows Web browsing using cloud-based servers, which helps to limit excessive data charges and saves the user money.

When the Nokia 206 is available before the end of the year, there will be a choice of five colors - white, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. It'll cost around $62 without carrier subsidies and will be offered in markets outside the United States.

The one thing I can say about the newest feature phone from Nokia is that it's very snazzy.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III, Motorola Photon Q near perfection

I have been in smartphone wonderland for the past few weeks. C Spire Wireless took me there with the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Motorola Photon Q. Both of these devices are on C Spire's 4G LTE network.

I could stop right here and say these smartphones are what dreams are made of, but you need to know the details. With one in each pocket , I found myself reaching for either the Galaxy S III or the Photon Q, depending on what I was doing.

Galaxy S III close to perfect

To keep it simple, the Galaxy S III is just plain nice. The spacious 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display makes other devices seem small, including my iPhone 5, which did grow in height from the previous iPhone models.

This fine example of a smartphone runs Android 4.0.4, also know as Ice Cream Sandwich. It has been working out and shaping up since the Galaxy S II appeared about a year ago.

The Galaxy S III can be packed with 32 gigabytes of memory, compared with 16GB for the S II, and has beefed up to a dual-core 1.5 gigahertz processor, compared with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor in the earlier version. If you need more storage space, the Galaxy S III can accept a 64GB SD Card, where the Galaxy S II was maxed out at 32GB.

The rear camera remains at 8 megapixels, just like its earlier sibling, but the front camera specifications is down slightly from 2.9 to 1.9 MP. But that shouldn't affect the Galaxy S III Burst Shot feature, which allows 20 continuous shots in a few seconds.

The Galaxy S III is full of cool technology, such as the S Beam feature for transferring photos, video and other documents just by placing it against the back of another Galaxy phone. Even cooler than that is the Smart Stay technology, with keeps the screen from dimming as long as you are staring at the display.

One of my most-watched area of emerging technology is Near Field Communication, or NFC, and the Galaxy S III has it on board, unlike the iPhone 5. By using Samsung's programmable NFC TecTiles stickers and the free TecTile app, this phone can perform all sorts of actions when it comes close to a sticker.

It's as simple as programming a sticker to change a setting, set an alarm or open your social media page. Just place the sticker in a convenient place and a tap will perform the action. You can have some hi-tech moments with the Galaxy S III by getting a package of five TecTile NFC stickers for $14.99.

The Galaxy S III also supports motion gestures to make a call by bringing the phone to your ear or scrolling quickly to the top of a list by tapping twice on the top menu bar.

This device is about as close to perfect as you can get in a smartphone.

The Motorola Photon Q means business

Some smartphones just feels good in your hands and you expect to have a good experience. That's the feeling the Motorola Photon Q gives the user.

This was C Spire's first 4G LTE device when it arrived on the shelves in September featuring a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, a 4.3-inch touchscreen and 8GB of memory. I'll bet customers were not disappointed.

The first thing you'll notice is the extra ounces in weight that comes from the slide-out QWERTY keyboard. If you do a lot of text messages and accuracy is of utmost importance, the QWERTY keyboard is spacious with five rows of keys that includes a dedicated numbers row.

The keys are outlined with LED lights in low-light situations, which makes them easy to see and gives a nice glow to the keypad. My typing accuracy increased on the Photon Q's keyboard when compared with similar efforts on digital keyboards.

Because the Photon Q seems geared toward the enterprise user, it has business-ready security and encryption for protecting emails, contacts and appointments.

Just like the Galaxy S III, the Photon Q also joins a growing list of smartphones with NFC support to share links, apps using the Android Beam feature.

Android devices gaining market dominance

The Galaxy S III and Photon Q for $199.99 under contracts are good examples of why recent research reports show that the Android platform now owns 72.4% of the smartphone market. While Apple's iOS holds second place, the iPhone is simply being outnumbered by compelling Android devices. It's yet to be seen if the recent Windows Phone 8 platform and the new BlackBerry 10 debut in January will slow down the Android march to dominance. Samsung, Motorola and HTC are strong contenders as Android gathers market share.

Both of these devices run on C Spire's 4G LTE network, which is available in 31 Mississippi markets, with plans to add another 6 by year end. The high-speed 4G network is now the standard and almost a must-have for downloading apps, music, books and other data-intensive functions and services.

If you're looking for smartphones near perfection, look no further than the Galaxy S III and Photon Q. I also like the iPhone 5, minus a few software glitches. I can vouch for these and we'll see how Windows Phone 8 devices are received and keep our fingers crossed for the BlackBerry 10 platform.

These devices should hold you for a while, or at least until the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes along.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

BlackBerry 10 launch set for Jan. 30; new smartphones unveiled

The BlackBerry 10 interface will include a new feature that will divide the screen into a "Personal" and "Work" display of apps and data.

The BlackBerry 10 launch is scheduled for Jan. 30, where Research in Motion, the smartphone's maker, will unveil the first two BlackBerry 10 Smartphones that will run on the new platform.

This is what a lot of BlackBerry fans have been patiently waiting for, as the iPhone, Android devices and now Windows Phone 8 devices, chip away at the loyalty of RIM’s customers.

The two devices expected to be announced have been rumored to be a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard model. The latter will soothe the fears of a lot of diehard BlackBerry fans, since the famous BlackBerry keyboards have been one of the reason for the device's popularity over the years.

According to RIM, the BlackBerry 10 will “create a truly unique mobile computing experience that constantly adapts to your needs” using an approach called BlackBerry Flow that will be unlike any other smartphone in the market.

Other new key features likely to found on the new platform include a new keyboard that will “learn how you write and adapt to how you type” and a feature to balance your personal and business apps and data.

The launch will happen simultaneously in multiple countries. More details will available at the event.

More: BlackBerry 10 to debut new apps

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Franklin Wireless 4G modem a champ with providing Wi-Fi signal

Finally, I can say that I was able to access the Internet at the grandparents house, a low-tech enclave best known as a weekend getaway, along with a dose of tranquility. As relaxing as it is, there is no available Wi-Fi signal within range of the comfortable couches in the family room.

So the lack of being connected to the world was bothering us until I discovered the Franklin Wireless USB Modem from C Spire Wireless. Let’s bump it up a bit and make that a “4G LTE Smart” modem available on what C Spire calls the first “personalizing wireless services” experience.

This device is about the size of a pack of gum and comes with a round USB charger, which plugs into any electrical outlet. The wireless modem plugs into the charger. The entire setup is as simple as a doughnut.

In less than a minute, at least two of the three indicator lights will indicate a Wi-Fi signal with a red glow and, in my case, a 4G signal as a blue glow. Any 3G signal will show as a green glow.

Surrounded by a family tree of photos of past generations from my wife’s family, it was time to bring a heavy presence of technology to the old homestead.

As Featured On EzineArticlesFirst up was a MacBook Pro that connected to the “C Spire 4G LTE Hotspot 3315” in the available Wi-Fi list with no problems. Then an iPhone 5 connected and was off and running on C Spire’s 4G network. The iPad was next in line, followed by an iPhone 4S. Again, no problems connecting.

Since we were having a good time, I decided to go for five devices, which is the maximum number of connections for the Franklin Wireless hotspot modem.

Next on the runway was a Nook Color, my dependable e-reader that I thought might be the curve ball that the Franklin Wireless 4G modem would miss.

But it was another home run for the hotspot modem as my wife and I moved from device to device – enjoying a high-speed Internet connections at the grandparents place that we had wished for in past visits.

The Franklin Wireless modem is super easy to use. The hardest part was inserting the C Spire USIM card, as the sliding cover on the modem can be a little fussy.

The device is designed to turn on automatically when connected to a USB power source using the AC-to-USB adapter or a cigarette lighter USB charger or and external USB battery pack.

You’ll also need to keep in mind that no Wi-Wi password is set by default for the wireless modem and your precious signal will be open to everyone to enjoy. A password can be set by access the Web interface.

The hotspot modem is listed as working with Windows XP through Windows 7 and Mac OS X. Windows XP users will need to install a Remote NDIS driver. I don’t have information on Windows 8 compatibility at this time.

I like this device and if you’re thinking about buying, it’s available online at for $29.99 with a two-year contract. Of course, you’ll have to choose a data plan to fit your needs.

The Franklin Wireless Modem will be handy whenever you’re without a Wi-Fi signal. If you’re in C Spire’s coverage area, just look for a power outlet and you’re in business.

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