Selasa, 30 November 2010

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Delta expands WiFi access to select regional jets

Good news, frequent (and not so frequent) fliers. In addition to offering free Goggle-sponsored WiFi on its long-range flights this holiday season, Delta has announced plans to expand Gogo internet access to many of its regional jets, beginning in January. The company says that it should have this next wave of upgrades done by the end of 2011. This will definitely come as a relief to those of us who will be enjoying hours-long "regional" flights in the new year, either on Delta planes or those of its regional partners (including Shuttle America, Comair, and Atlantic Southeast). The expansion will apply only to aircraft with a first class cabin -- you know, the spacious compartment you pass through before being herded into the back with the rest of us schlubs.

Google TV receiving an updated Netflix app?

One of the many gripes about Google TV so far has been the ancient version of Netflix's Watch Instantly app it shipped with, but Scott Greczkowski from Satellite Guys appears to be the first to receive a new version on his Logitech Revue. Pictured above, it seems to reflect one of the (many) versions of the PS3 Netflix app, with queue management and search functions available. Android Central notes that the last update arrived less than a week after the date of the build and this one is marked November 22 so hopefully it should arrive any day now, until then check out the video (embedded after the break) or more pics at the source link.

iOS 4.2 supports new tech to reduce network congestion, Nokia Siemens says

One of the world's top suppliers of cellular infrastructure, Nokia Siemens, has dropped some juicy knowledge today that Apple's new iOS 4.2 update supports a technology called network-controlled fast dormancy that better optimizes how the phone connects to the network. The company touts that it's a win-win -- better battery life, less unnecessary network utilization -- and also points out that Nokia implemented the technique in all of its smartphones starting earlier this year. Since network-controlled fast dormancy is a feature that benefits the network itself as much as it benefits the individual user, knocking out two power players like Nokia and Apple (over half of new smartphone sales, NSN points out) should make a big dent.

Interestingly, NSN seems to have arrived at this discovery through "tests" it conducted, not by working with Apple on implementing it. Sure, we don't pretend to know all the interactions that occur between manufacturers, carriers, and suppliers during a phone's development, but it certainly seems to us that Apple would benefit by engaging infrastructure companies early and often as these baseband updates come together -- particularly as it seeks to keep a tight lid on the very congestion issues that network-controlled fast dormancy is designed to help eliminate. Either way, it's interesting to see how quick Nokia Siemens was to probe for the change this time around.

Verizon launching LTE on December 5th, two transforming 4G USB modems hitch a wild ride

Sure, Verizon's holding a press conference tomorrow, but unless they've got a secret LTE smartphone or tablet (we can only hope) we've got a fairly good idea what the company will say. We're hearing Verizon will flip the switch on its LTE network on December 5th, unveil a pair of hot new USB modems to take advantage of those supposedly stellar speeds, and launch the SIM cards required to make LTE function in the first place. The gadgets include the LG VL600 thumbstick we've seen before, but also this marvelous-looking Pantech UML290 key, which has not only a slick swiveling case but also a dual-jointed USB port beneath. We doubt we're going to have any trouble getting this one plugged into even the slimmest of port-abhorring slimline computing machines. See where one of the SIM cards goes in the gallery below.

Update: The populace has spoken, and "sexy" is no more. Shall we call them "transforming" modems, then? They most certainly are.

[Thanks, Anonymous and JT]

AirSync for doubleTwist brings wireless syncing to Android phones

Been looking for the perfect thing to boast to your iPhone-owning friends about? Well brace yourself, because doubleTwist has just gone wireless with its latest update, introducing a feature called AirSync which allows Android users to keep their media collection simpatico sans cabling. The new app for PC and Mac boxes couples with its Android counterpart (along with a new AirSync component) and lets you do most of your management without needing a wire between your phone and computer. The desktop application and DoubleTwist player for phones won't cost you a thing, though AirSync itself is $0.99 on the phone for the first 10,000 buyers, and then jumps to $4.99 a shot.

Setup is relatively painless, requiring just a passcode from your phone which is input on the PC side. From then on, whenever you've got the app open and your device in range, the content stored on the phone will appear in your DoubleTwist list just as if you'd plugged the phone in (similar to the Windows Phone 7 / Zune wireless sync). We took AirSync for a ride with our Mac and Droid Incredible, and everything seemed to work fine, though we did notice a few bugs (one that was pretty major) that need worked out. Firstly, you'll probably want to just start fresh with syncing your collection -- we made the mistake of trying to pick up where we'd left off and accidentally wiped the content stored on the phone. We also noticed issues with the application trying to sync or update your database while listening to music; more than once our playback abruptly stopped when the app was attempting to talk to the phone. Syncing can also be pretty slow depending on your connection -- really slow if you've got a big collection.

Despite those complaints, AirSync (and both the doubleTwist Android app and desktop client) are incredibly slick solutions to a problem plaguing lots of smartphone users. The company obviously has just begun its work with the app -- and it's clear that there are kinks to work out -- but the dream of a wireless future for Android users just got a lot closer to reality.

LG Star struts its stuff on film, toys with an iPhone 4 (video)

We can't get enough of the world's first Tegra 2 smartphone, the LG Star, so if the 4-inch diva wants a closeup while parading about Tel Aviv, who are we to argue? GSM Israel somehow managed to obtain the same dual-core Android 2.2 handset we glimpsed earlier this afternoon, complete with 8 megapixel camera and HDMI port. Though we don't have the foggiest idea what they're saying in the video after the break, the LG-P990 certainly seems to be a speedy little machine in side-by-side webpage load tests with the fan-favorite iPhone 4, though we seem to detect a hint of hesitation when the Star's capacitive touchscreen gets brushed. Chalk it up to faux embarrassment, we suppose. Video after the break.

HP Slate beginning to ship?

We've got word from one loyal reader that his HP Slate is en route from Shanghai, and he even provided us PDF proof of that fact, just to quell any doubts. We're not sure if that's some little slip on HP and FedEx's part, or a sign of larger things to come (be sure to let us know in the comments if you've received similar notice), but for now all we know is that something enterprisey is scheduled to show up on one Dave P.'s doorstep on December 6th. Godspeed, dear tablet. Godspeed.

[Thanks, Dave P.]

The Engadget Interview: Sir Richard Branson on Project and the iPad

So we were lucky enough to sit down with Sir Richard Branson at this morning's launch of his iPad-only Project magazine, and just like the last time we hung out, our conversation was both entertaining and illuminating. The highlight? In addition to telling us that Project would eventually hit both Android tablets and other devices "in time," Sir Richard was totally candid in saying that he had "no f**king idea why" Project was only on the iPad and not on the web -- although he did say Project was a "proper magazine" and not "just thrown together for the web." (Ouch.) Sir Richard was also excited about the possibilities for advertising, saying that the new medium can "bring advertising alive." We've definitely got our doubts about limiting content to one platform without any robust sharing options -- and we obviously think it's possible to do high-quality content on the web -- but there's no doubt that Sir Richard is an extremely charming pitchman, so make sure to check out the whole interview.

Microsoft reiterates copy and paste is Windows Phone 7's first update, 'additional updates delivered in the future'

Chris Walsh -- one of the forces behind the ChevronWP7 app sideload hack for Windows Phone 7 -- went on record earlier this week saying that the first platform update coming early next year would be "massive" with so many improvements and new features that "they could have called it Windows Phone 8." That's a pretty bold statement, and it's been making the rounds so fiercely today that Microsoft felt the need to lay down the law with an official statement -- albeit not a very strongly-worded one:
"Microsoft is committed to delivering regular updates to the Windows Phone experience. Our first update will make copy & paste available in early 2011. In addition to this first update, all Windows Phone 7 users should expect to see additional updates delivered in the future as part of Microsoft's ongoing update process."
So it sounds to us like priority one in Redmond is to get copy and paste up and running (which is basically the message they've been delivering for a while), though we should expect plenty more through future updates. When you figure in the size of the team Microsoft has built for engineering this platform -- and the fact that they've now got the initial retail release out of the way -- we're hoping they've got nothing better to do than to churn on some of these pain points users have identified over the next few months. Should be a heck of a year coming up, eh?

Venue Pro makes brief appearance on Dell's website: $150 on-contract, December 14th launch?

There's no sign left of it now, but it looks like none other than the Venue Pro made a brief appearance on Dell's website earlier today, complete with a few key details about the device. Namely, that it will apparently run $150 on a two-year contract or $500 off-contract (which is a bit different than the asking price was at Microsoft stores), and that it will start shipping on December 14th. Of course, it's entirely possible that Dell pulled the page in order to make some changes to those details -- and considering the Venue Pro launch so far, that might even be likely.

Motorola split wraps up on January 4th

Just in time for CES, eh? We knew it was happening at some point in January, and Motorola has just announced that it'll formally be split into two companies as of January 4th, 2011. Actually, that's not technically accurate: Motorola Mobility -- the phone and set-top box guys -- will be spun off into their own entity, while the parent company will change its name from Motorola to Motorola Solutions, responsible for the company's infrastructure businesses. Shareholders of the current company as of December 21st will receive one share of Mobility for every eight shares they've got in their possession right now, while the remainder of the company will enact a 1-for-7 reverse split; as of the 4th, you'll be looking at two stock symbols: MMI for Mobility and MSI for Solutions. So... who's buying? Follow the break for the official press release.

Bell Mobility launches Netgear Turbo Hub, sends juicy HSPA+ to your WiFi and Ethernet gear

Canada's Bell appears to be taking advantage of Netgear's partnership with Ericsson on this one, putting its 21Mbps HSPA+ network to good use. Not to say that phones aren't a great use for high-speed data, of course, but that's enough bandwidth to realistically replace a home internet connection or two -- and that's exactly what the so-called MBR 1210 Turbo Hub sets out to do, spreading an incoming Bell data signal over up to 15 devices connected via WiFi and Ethernet. Interestingly, it also allows users to use the HSPA+ hookup as an automatic fallback in case your primary connection (say, DSL or cable) fails -- perfect for us "blog or die" types. You'll pay CAD $149.95 (about $147) on a two-year deal to put a Turbo Hub on your shelf, or CAD $299.95 ($294) sans contract; plans, meanwhile, range from CAD $35 to $60 ($34 to $59) for between 3GB and 10GB of data (no metric / English conversion necessary there) with a $10 surcharge to gain access to the 21Mbps signal -- you get 7.2Mbps otherwise. It's a pretty creative plan structure, and we're sure folks would appreciate an unlimited option... preferably without any extra speed fees. Follow the break for the full press release.

Samsung releases 'GPS Restore' app for Captivate and other Galaxy S models

Seems Samsung still hasn't solved the GPS woes on many of its Galaxy S models to the satisfaction of every user -- complaints of inordinately long (or impossible) lock times continue to trickle into our inbox to this very day. To that end, folks might be interested in the news that Samsung Mobile is tweeting about a "GPS Restore Application" that it's thrown together for wiping the GPS subsystem and making it factory-fresh. Now, we'll be the first to admit -- we don't quite understand how "restoring" a screwed-up GPS to its original screwed-up state is doing any good, but we'll leave it to Sammy's confusing verbiage:
"During online surveillance, there is an abundance of GPS tweaks that impair GPS performance. Often times, no backup is performed to restore values prior to modifications. Samsung has released an application that restores GPS settings to recommended factory defaults for optinum [sic] performance."
Right, then. It's only compatible with the Captivate and Vibrant at the moment -- no word on others like the Epic 4G, Mesmerize, or Fascinate, but folks on AT&T and T-Mobile should be able to nab it from the Market.

FCC looking into Comcast / Netflix blocking threat, Level 3 responds as analysts chime in

News that Comcast had threatened to block internet backbone Level 3, which is one of the companies delivering Watch Instantly streams, sent shockwaves through the industry yesterday. Net neutrality advocates geared up for battle, Comcast insisted it was only enforcing the same arrangements other networks abide by while Roger Ebert and the rest of us fretted over Netflix access. Today, Level 3 issued a response to Comcast, claiming it is "distracting from the fundamental issue" which is free use of all content on the internet for its customers. Meanwhile, Multichannel News points out industry analysts say Level 3's claims of traffic discrimination "appear unfounded" while VideoNuze editor Will Richmond supposes Level 3 may have "bid too aggressively for the Netflix business and is now trying to recover." Most damaging to Level 3's argument are its own words from a dispute where it sought financial compensation from Cogent for using too much of its network's bandwidth:
"For example, Cogent was sending far more traffic to the Level 3 network than Level 3 was sending to Cogent's network. It is important to keep in mind that traffic received by Level 3 in a peering relationship must be moved across Level 3's network at considerable expense. Simply put, this means that, without paying, Cogent was using far more of Level 3's network, far more of the time, than the reverse. Following our review, we decided that it was unfair for us to be subsidizing Cogent's business."
Beyond analyst opinions and posturing the question of whether or not Comcast has the power to set pricing for access to its network, creating the toll road Level 3 is accusing it of being, is still at issue. That will certainly come into play at the FCC, where chairman Julius Genachowski mentioned at today's meeting that the agency is looking into Level 3's claims at the same time it continues to review the joining of Comcast and NBC. As far as your Netflix streams? Safe for now, though the company isn't commenting, Level 3 isn't the only provider it relies on for access and how any deal it might reach with Comcast could affect the service is still unclear.

Update: Comcast has issued its own salvo of PR, including a video meant to breakdown exactly what internet peering is and what it wants to charge Level 3 for, 10 of its own facts about what it is, and is not doing, and a copy of the letter it's sent to the FCC about the issue. You can them all out in full after the break.

Acer confirms plans for Windows Phone 7

We saw the briefest whisper of an indication a couple months ago, but now Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci has come out and said it: Acer's working on Windows Phone 7. In an interview with Ina Fried, Gianfranco touched briefly on the company's plans for Microsoft's new OS, after an ill-fated stint with Windows Mobile not so long ago. Naturally, the addition of Windows Phone 7 won't be coming at the expense of Acer's newfound love of Android, but Lanci oddly says he sees for WP7 "the same opportunity you can see on Android in terms of customization." We don't know what sort of customization he could be referring to, but we're trembling in anticipation. So, let's just tally them up: MeeGo, Chrome OS, Windows Phone 7, Android, and, of course, Windows itself... pretty nice collection you've got for yourself, Acer. What's next, BeOS?