Archive for March, 2009

Motorola's Best Touch-Screen Phone To Date

The struggling wireless division at Motorola may be getting renewed traction. A new cellphone called the Evoke QA4 is making a good impression in anticipation of its launch next quarter.

The handset is a sleek touch-screen model with a slide-out dialpad. That makes it look vaguely like the upcoming Palm Pre, though the Pre’s slider is a full Qwerty keyboard. The Evoke isn’t yet a fully powered smartphone, though it has a customizable home screen. It includes widgets that link to MySpace, YouTube and RSS feeds.

Intriguingly, the phone could get added smarts.

Stan Beer at ITWire reports the phone can run other operating systems. That could include Google’s Android smartphone software. The ability comes through tech from a company called Open Kernel Labs:

According to OK Labs, this will enable Motorola to offer the Evoke QA4 to consumers at a feature phone price, hundreds of dollars cheaper than most smartphones like the iPhone and [BlackBerry].

Even without the added smarts, Ian Paul at PCWorld says the new phone is Motorola’s best answer yet to the iPhone:

This time Motorola looks as if it got it right with this Web-savvy Evoke…

He adds that Motorola left out enough capability, including Wi-Fi, to suggest it could never unseat the iPhone. But it looks like Motorola’s taking some innovative risks to get back into the game.

The company has struggled to find a new hit after its Razr line, which was a huge success after it appeared five or six years ago. That’s a lifetime in the wireless business.

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Microsoft Releasing Free Mobile Version Of Windows Live

Microsoft is releasing a free mobile version of Windows Live on 2 April giving Windows Mobile 6.x users access to mobile versions of Hotmail, Messenger, Contacts, Spaces and Search, along with enhanced photo uploading capabilities. The site can be accessed at wl.windowsmobile.com.

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Microsoft Support For Mobile Marketplace

Microsoft has claimed growing support for its upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system and Windows Marketplace application store, both of which were unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

“We know it’s the experiences that mobile phones can offer to people that really matter,” said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division.

“The continued support from the world’s top mobile operators, manufacturers and developers means you can choose the Windows phone, applications and experiences that are right for you.”

A wide range of developers have already signed up to offer applications through Windows Marketplace for Mobile, including makers of productivity tools, information providers, mobile games developers and social networking sites.

There are over 20,000 applications available for Windows phones, but these have to be located and accessed through multiple distribution partners. Much like the iPhone App Store, Microsoft wants Windows Marketplace for Mobile to provide a central repository for these applications.

The Marketplace is due out later this year and customers will have the option to purchase applications with a credit card or have charges appear directly on their phone bill. Users will also be able to return an application after purchase within 24 hours for a full refund, and developers will be able to deliver updates to applications for free throughout the application lifecycle.

Microsoft has set up new partnerships with the Design Museum London and the Council of Fashion Designers of America to offer a variety of free designer themes for Windows-based mobile devices, including colour palettes and wallpapers. A Theme Generator will help owners create their own designs.

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LG Xenon And The LG Neon At CTIA 2009

Two phones that will be at the CTIA 2009 show in Las Vegas on April 1st will be the LG Xenon and the LG Neon.
The LG Xenon features a 2-megapixel camera, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, touch-screen, stereo Bluetooth, 3G/HSDPA speeds, quad-band GSM, MP3 player and much more (We will bring you the full specs on this pretty soon), oh this phone also comes in a very nice red colour.
Next that will be showing is the stunning LG Neon, which also has a touch-screen display, plus a 2-megapixel camera, MP3 player, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, physical navigation keys, tri-band GSM, stereo Bluetooth and so much more (Once again we will give you more specs and features pretty soon).

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CTIA Wireless 2009 An Application show

While there will be some cell phones announced at this year’s show, most of the excitement will center on software applications and the virtual store fronts that are popping up to distribute these new applications. Since the success of Apple’s App Store, which provides easy access to third party applications for iPhones, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon announcing their own application stores.

CTIA Wireless 2009
Everyone from Google to Microsoft to Nokia to Research In Motion has announced plans for a new application store. And at this year’s CTIA, some of these new app stores will come to life. RIM is expected to announce that its BlackBerry AppWorld is open for business and Microsoft will start showing off its Marketplace for the first time.

But application markets aren’t the only thing that will be talked about. Carriers, like Verizon and Clearwire will also be touting faster broadband wireless networks that will help make these applications a reality. And of course handset makers will be showing off new products, some of which have already been announced, such as the Palm Pre.

But this year’s spring CTIA Wireless show will likely be smaller than in years past. The economic downturn has taken its toll on the mobile market. Even Nokia, the world’s largest and strongest maker of cell phones, has slashed expectations for 2009. And the company has already begun laying off employees and closing facilities to cut costs.

Still, mobile is hot. And most experts agree that even though the overall cell phone market won’t grow as quickly as it has in years past, it is one of the brightest spots on the technology landscape for the future. And the new technologies and services developed and shown off today will pave the way toward recovery in the future.

Here’s a snapshot of what we expect to see:

Applications galore
The biggest news of the week will likely come from Research in Motion. The company, which makes the popular BlackBerry smartphone, is expected to introduce both an applications storefront and a mobile video-download service for its newer BlackBerry devices. RIM, the preferred smartphone of the suit-and-tie crowd, has increasingly courted consumers over the past year with new phones like the Pearl and the Storm. But throwing the BlackBerry wide-open to consumer-oriented developers could help enhance its standing against Apple’s iPhone.

Microsoft is also expected to show off its Windows Marketplace for Mobile, its version of the mobile computing application store. Microsoft announced the new mobile application store at Mobile World Congress in February. And now it plans to show off the product at the show with a special demonstration during a keynote address on Thursday.

Last year, the company unveiled Windows Mobile 6.1 in Las Vegas, and it announced tweaks to the software at MWC earlier this year with Windows Mobile 6.5. But the broader overhaul of the software promised in Windows Mobile 7 still appears pretty far off in the distance.

Even though Apple won’t be at CTIA, there will be plenty of iPhone applications announced and demonstrated at the show. Skype has already taken the wraps off its new Skype for iPhone app. And other apps are sure to be highlighted and demonstrated, such as MobiTV’s new iPhone application.

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Etisalat launches iPhone 3G With Benefits

Etisalat launches iPhone 3G for Wasel prepaid customers in the UAE
Offers spectacular benefits worth AED 2000+ on purchase of every device

Reiterating its commitment to provide convenience, coverage and value to its customers, Etisalat today announced the launch of iPhone 3G, 8MB and 16 MB devices for its Wasel customers in the UAE. Starting Wednesday, 1st April, iPhone 3G device will be available for all Wasel customers, who will be able to buy the device off-the-shelf, and benefit from a spectacular offer providing a return benefit of more than AED 2000.

The iPhone 3G 8GB device will be available in black color for AED 3,121, while the 16GB device will be available in both white and black colors for AED 3,570. Etisalat is also offering free 250 MB monthly data package for six months and one free Wasel SIM Card with every device, providing lucrative return benefit of over AED 2000, effectively bringing down the device cost to a little over AED 1000.

Customers can choose to activate their subscription on their current SIM or on the new SIM, being offered free by Etisalat. Customers keen on upgrading the free data package of 250 MB can subscribe to any of the current Etisalat data packages, and the free bandwidth (250 MB /per month) will be added to their selected package automatically.

Commenting on the announcement, Essa Al Haddad, Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat, said,” Etisalat is delighted to launch the world acclaimed iPhone 3G device for its prepaid customers in the UAE. With Etisalat’s widespread 3G network, a remarkable device experience and an unprecedented bundle package, providing return benefits of AED 2000, the service fulfils our commitment of providing convenience, coverage and value to our customers.”
“Etisalat with its powerful 3.5G mobile broadband network offers download speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps and upload speed of 1.92 Mbps, providing an unparalleled device experience to its customers,” added Al Haddad.

iPhone 3G combines all the revolutionary features of iPhone plus 3G networking that is twice as fast*, built-in GPS for expanded location-based mobile services, and iPhone 2.2.1 software which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and runs thousands of third party applications available through the Apple App Store.

iPhone 3G 8MB and 16MB is available now for both the prepaid and postpaid customers across all Etisalat business centres and outlets.

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New Offerings For Phones In Web-Based Online Office Suites

Online office suites offer some key advantages to their desktop counterparts thanks to cloud computing. Though less powerful than software that’s physically installed on a desktop computer, Web-based office applications allow for collaboration features, making them worth considering for personal or even enterprise use.

Cloud computing, a term mentioned a lot these days, takes the software you use most — as well as your files — and puts them up on the Web where they can be accessed anywhere from a variety of devices that are connected to the Internet. There’s no need to have the application installed on the computer or device being used.

Most online office suites using this technology are free, including the ones described below. Some can even be used from mobile devices like iPhones and Windows Mobile handhelds on the go.

But one of the biggest advantages is how this Web-based approach allows collaborative features for documents. This lets multiple users access the same document, spreadsheet, or presentation, make changes, and even make comments that everyone can see. No need to attach files to emails that can get lost. No worry over who has the most up-to-date version of the file.

This can be helpful for smaller organizations that don’t have the huge computer and network infrastructure (or money) that large corporations have with servers and shared drives for files. But it’s also good for personal use.

Here are five online office suites worth taking a look at.

Google Docs

Google was one of the earlier well-known entrants to the online office suite marketplace. You can upload and edit documents, presentations, and even spreadsheets as well as create new ones from scratch.

Click the share button at the top of the document you’re working in and add the email addresses of people you want to collaborate with. You can give them the ability to edit documents or just view them. Google will send an email to the collaborators letting them know the document was shared with them so they can go in and do their thing.

Now say you shared a document with a user who went in and made changes to a document you didn’t want. Google Docs tracks versions of documents so you can go back and restore a document to its previous state. You can even see exactly who made what change so you know who to place the blame on.

If you have an iPhone or Android-based phone, you can view your Google Docs right on it and even edit spreadsheets.

Zoho

Zoho is a very large suite of online applications, which include not only word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, like Google Docs, but also a database program, an email account, a wiki (a collaborative Web site all users can go in and edit. Wikipedia is an example of this on a huge scale), an online meeting application, and several others.

The company offers an iPhone and Windows Mobile optimized site that lets users access their documents on the go, though it’s read-only access.

Like Google Docs, Zoho has versioning functionality, so it stores multiple versions of documents users are working in and it allows sharing and collaboration with other users.

Adobe Buzzword

The best way to describe Adobe’s newer entrant to online document editing is “pretty.” Buzzword, which is beautifully designed and has some pretty neat special effects, is based completely on Flash. However, it is only a document editor. No spreadsheets or presentations here.

Like most other online document editors, you can add multiple users with different “roles” to collaborate on any document. There’s a share button at the bottom of the document that lets users add the email addresses of collaborators and choose roles for them (editing ability or read-only access). Adobe will send them a message letting them know the document is there and provide a link for them to get there.

Thought most competitors allow commenting, it’s handled well, particularly in a visual way, in Buzzword. You can add them for other editors and readers to see while you’re working on the same document.

Thinkfree

Thinkfree, which also offers a downloadable desktop suite, offers Web-based office programs that look a lot like the Microsoft Office applications you’re used to using. This is because the software is actually run in what’s called a Java Virtual Machine which runs programs almost like a computer.

It does take a long time to load Thinkfree’s suite, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, and slideshow presentations, and once the programs load they can be a little slow. But if you’re looking for a powerful, desktop-like experience, this might be the route to go.

Like the competition, Thinkfree has collaboration functionality, but it’s less integrated into the editing applications.

Microsoft Office Live Workspace

Microsoft’s Office Live Workspace is more of a free online collaboration extension to the desktop Office suite, but is worth mentioning since so many people use Microsoft Office.

To use Office Live Workspace users need install an add-in to Microsoft Office that allows them save Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations to an online “workspace” that all the collaborators can access and edit.

Collaborators can go to the Office Live Web site and view documents as well as comments made by other users, but to edit them, they need to have Microsoft Office installed on the PC they’re using.

Office Live Workspace also includes tools to track shared appointments and lists, which synchronize with Microsoft Outlook. If the creator of an appointment makes a change to the time, for example, all other users will have their Outlook calendars updated automatically.

Similar to the other online office suites, Office Live tracks versions of files and lets users restore previous states.

Microsoft plans to eventually offer lightweight web-based versions of the main Office applications that will allow users to do editing of documents online. The company is still developing these applications.

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