Archive for February, 2010

Apple iPhone Review

We will be reviewing a variety of cellular phones on this web site. We started with the Apple I-Phone, which is the current leader of the pack. We will also cover the i-Pad as well in another post along with many other phones over the coming months.

The Apple iPhone has literally thousands of applications that have been Apple iPhone Reviewdeveloped by Apple as well as 3rd party developers. The Apple iPhone comes with a stunning display and sleek design. When you hold it in your hand it just feels right for the hand. The touch screen display is also dynamic and rotates as you rotate the iPhone from vertical to horizontal. With the safari browser it offers a superb browsing experience. Fast and futuristic, many customers are very happy with this product. The negative side of the iPhone is that it has variable call quality which can be a major issue for many users who depend on their phone to take calls and manage their business or their personal lives. It does not support stereo Bluetooth and the integrated memory is a bit stingy. Consumers must sync with their PC to manage music content.

The Apple iPhone got off to a slow start in some cases with the slow network provided by AT&T, however it is really setting the benchmark for other small intelligent phones . Average user rating on Cnet gives it a 3.5 out of 5 for over 782 reviews at the time of writing. Cnet provides an in depth review of the Apple iPhone. Some of the highlights of the review include:

Apple iPhone Review

  • Trim lines , no antenna,
  • Solid feel , perhaps a little weighty
  • Glass display instead of plastic
  • Brilliant color display, sharp graphics and fluid movements
  • menu is intuitive
  • Superior touch screen more than meets expectations
  • Keyboard for typing emails is only displayed when the iPhone is vertical
  • Zoom in or out by moving two fingers together or away from each other while touching the screen
  • Thousands of applications available for users to utilize
  • Amazing iPod application

This is by no means a complete review, just a few of the Cnet highlights. Readers are encourage to review the specifications below and to add your own comments about likes and dislikes about this latest Apple iPhone.

Features:

  • 3 mega pixel camera with auto focus and tap to focus
  • Video recording , VGA up to 30 ps with audio
  • Photos and video geotagging

iPhone and 3rd party application integration

Display:

  • 3.5 inch wide screen multi touch display
  • 480 by 320 pixel resolution at 163 ppi
  • Fingerprint resistant oleophobic coating
  • Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

Audio Playback:

  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • Audio formats supported: AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
  • User-configurable maximum volume limit

Video Playback: Video formats supported: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

Capacity: 16GB or 32GB flash drive

Connectors: 30 pin dock connector, built in speaker, microphone, SIM card tray, 3.5 mm stero head phone minijack

Accessories:

  • Apple In-Ear headphones with remote and Mic
  • MobileM Subscription
  • Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
  • USB power adapter
  • Apple Universal dock
  • Apple Dock connector to SB cable
  • iPhone 3G Universal Dock Adapter 3-Pack
  • iPhone TTY Adapter
  • Apple Component AV Cable
  • Apple Composite AV Cable
  • AirPort Extreme Base Station
  • Nike + iPod Sensor
  • World Travel Adapter Kit

Sensors:Accelerator, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor

Headphones:Apple head phones with remote and Mic, volume control, frequency response :20hz to 20,000 Hz

Size & Weight: 4.5 inches high, 2.4 inches wide, .48 inches deep, 4.8 oz

Colors: Black or White

External Buttons & Controls: Sleep / wake, Volume up/down, ring / silent, Home

Cellular & Wireless: Supports UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 Mhz), GSM /Edge (850,900,1800,1900 Mhz), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR wireless technology

Location: Assisted GPS with digital compass and Wifi

Power & Battery: Built in re-chargeable lithium ion battery Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter Talk time – up to 12 hours on 3G, up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi Standby time – 300 hours Internet use – up to 5 hours on 3G, up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi Video playback: up to 10 hours Audio playback : up to 300 hours

Languages: Multiple languages are supported

For more iPhone reviews ,click here.

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Wireless Internet @ Home

Wireless InternetMost homes are not equipped with Ethernet cabling throughout the house. This is the type of cabling you need to connect your computer to your cable modem or to your DSL modem. In some cases consumers will also have a small router. They can connect to their high speed modem which will support up to four computers and a network printer. Running cables to 4 different computers and a printer spread throughout a house is a non starter for most people. They just do not want to clutter up their homes with all this cable laying along the floor.

Wireless Internet via WiFi

There is another solution and that is adding wireless internet to your home using a wireless router. These devices are relatively inexpensive and also easy to install. You will need to have a wireless card in each computer that you want to connect to the router over a wireless connection. If you have printers with a wireless card you can also connect the printer to the wireless network allowing all computers to print from this network printer. The printer can also be connected to one of the computers or to the router via an Ethernet card.  Most wireless routers will also support several wired connections as well.

Coverage with a Wireless Router

With a wireless router, wireless internet @ home can be very convenient. the kids can connect their computers from anywhere in the house, the parents from the den or while watching TV.  Basically anywhere in the home as well as within a short distance from the home outside. Even some of your neighbors may be able to access your wireless network from their homes if your wireless router is located properly.

A precaution that everyone should follow when they install wireless router is to password protect it to avoid unwanted people from accessing your network and using your service for free. The best case is that they will use your network for free and drive your traffic up to a point were your service provider decides that they need to charge you a higher fee. The worst case is that they download large files of questionable material or worse hack into your own computers and take a look around at your personal files. Right now out of four wireless networks that I can see, one is wide open and accessible. Always protect your wireless network with a password.

Sometimes when I am waiting for my wife to finish an appointment at the hospital, I drive into the nearby neighborhood and look for an open WiFi that I can use to read my mail and browse the internet. I usually have no problem finding one. Password protect your WiFi to stop people like me from using your WiFi for free.

Setting up Wireless Internet

Setting up wireless internet at home is pretty straight forward. Turn off your high speed modem, plug the Ethernet cable provided with your wireless router into the high speed modem and the wireless router. Plug both units in and turn on both units. Insert the CD that came with your wireless router and follow the instructions. Note you need to have a wireless modem installed in your computer and turned on for your wireless connection to work.

You will be prompted to add your name, password etc and then you should be ready to connect. Provide the password to other users in your home. This is actually the network key and is needed by everyone who will access your router.

Improving Productivity with Wireless Internet

Once you are connected you can move around the house or the office with your computer and always remain connected. Read your email, chat with other users and social networks, print using your wireless router, connect multiple computers, stream music or video. With all of these advantages you will wonder why you never moved to a wireless network sooner.

An additional advantage is that when you have visitors or the kids come home they can easily connect to the internet via your wireless router without having to dig out a cable or unhook your own.  Guests can even connect from the comfort of their room without needing a cable to connect.

Router Capacity for Wireless Internet @ Home

Routers come in various capacities in terms of being able to support multiple computers as well as maximum throughput. Before you decide on a wireless router , evaluate your needs and then decide on a router.

What is the speed of your cable connection or DSL connection? Will the router utilize this maximum capacity? What content will you be downloading from the internet? Will you just be doing email and internet browsing? Or will you be downloading movies and songs which take more bandwidth? Select the router that will give you the capacity that you need. Remember that other  members of the family may be using the internet for other applications so check with them before you make a decision.

Location of our Router for Maximum Coverage

Select a practical location for the router that is easy to install and near where your high speed modem is located. If the router is located in the basement, there is a possibility that you will not have the best performance if you and your computer are on the top floor. Best location for a wireless router is in the middle of the house on the main floor, away from walls and other metallic obstructions. This is not always practical so try to locate your wireless router as close to the above suggestions to maximize your coverage and avoid poor performance.

Conversely , if you locate the router on the 2nd floor and your office is in the basement you could also have poor connection and poor service as a result.

Computer Security for Wireless Networks

In addition to setting up security on your wireless router, you should also set up appropriate security on your computer. This is like a 2nd line of defense. Protect your computer from viruses and hack attacks. Install a virus checking program. Close ports that are not needed. Set up your firewall on your computer as well as on your wireless router to maximize your security.

For more on wireless internet discussion, click here.

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Wireless Networks Improving

There is hope yet for the wireless networks as they improve their services and coverage of cities , towns and rural areas. Wireless Networks Improving in many locations.  Many people experience perfectly great service were they live, yet when they go inside some buildings or into rural areas, their phones do not work as well. They miss calls and drop calls on a regular basis.

The reason for this is really quite simple. The wireless signal is simply not strong enough for the cell phone to operate properly to process calls and maintain them once a call is set up. There are numerous reasons for a weak signal and we will discuss some of them as follows:

Wireless Networks Improving – Insufficient Power, Poor Coverage

The wireless carriers all have cell phone towers spread around the country. You Cell Towerhave probably seen them in cities and across the country side. The one shown on the left is pretty typical of a small site that provides wireless coverage in all directions from the tower. In more densely populated areas you will see towers that are higher as well as with more radio transmitters on them.

The picture to the left is an example of another tower with more radios and much Wireless Networks Improvinghigher than most towers. The power of each of these radio and the number of these towers is governed by strict engineering guidelines that take into account the power radiated, the area covered and the terrain that is within a 30 mile radius of the tower as well as adjacent towers that are also providing cell phone coverage.

The closer you are to a transmitting tower, the stronger your signal will be and the better your service will be. Someone who is at the extreme distance of 30 miles will not receive a very strong signal and may drop calls or miss calls. The signal degrades with distance on an Radius squared basis.  The density of cell towers and the number of radios at various power levels is one of the main reasons that cell phone coverage can be very good or very poor.

Signal Blockages or Line of Site Issues

Another factor which can impact the signal you receive is what is between you and the transmitting tower that your phone is connected to by wireless signal. If there is a bridge or building or hill between you and the tower, then your signal will not be as strong.

In cities were demand is stronger, there are more towers and also radios attached to buildings to cover every nook and cranny of the city, so that there are no blockages. As you get further out from the center of the city or were there is a significant demand, there are less towers and this is where this type of blockage occurs.

Signal Blockage by Buildings

Many cellular subscribers or mobile subscribers may notice that the signal illustrated on their hand sets decreases when they go inside a building. You might have 4 bars of signal outside , only to have it decrease to 2 bars while you are inside or even worse no signal at all.

Many buildings are surrounded in some kind of steel and this acts as a serious attenuater to decrease the signal strength. Even if your building is concrete with re-enforced steel wire inside the wall, this will be enough to lower the signal strength. In really bad cases, users of cell phones will have to step outside to use their phones.

Wireless Service Providers are Improving

As you might appreciate, the wireless service providers are working hard to improve service. Every dropped call or missed call is lost revenue for the wireless service providers not to mention a bad reputation that they get.

Since these towers and radios are quite expensive,  the wireless service providers are targeting new installations were they will be able to derive the most revenue. If you happen to live in a low traffic area you may be waiting for a long time before your service is improved.

On the other hand if there is sufficient population density in your area and customers are complaining, there may be a sufficiently good business case for the wireless service providers to spend the money to improve service in your area. There are several ways to improve service.

Increase power to existing radios, however this could be detrimental to other radio systems in the area. The FCC in the US manages this relationship very carefully as do the wireless service providers. Another solution is to divide an area and add a new tower. Permission from local groups must be provided before a tower can even be erected, so it may take some time to add additional radios and towers. Many times the wireless service providers will attach radios to buildings as an alternative to adding a brand new tower and  incurring the wrath of the local citizens.

If you have a large commercial building with lots of wireless customers that work in the building you may be able to persuade your wireless service provider to add small wireless cellular radios inside the building.  Of course you will end up having to approach all of the carriers since not everyone is with the same wireless service provider.

There are also small repeaters that can be purchased. These are broadband repeaters that will capture the full wireless spectrum that the carriers use , amplify it and then rebroadcast the same signal inside the building. Since these repeaters are broadband, they will broadcast all of the signals for all of the carriers. These repeaters must be approved by the carrier and they will have to be installed by the customer at their expense.

For more posts about wireless coverage, click here.

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Indoor Wireless Coverage

Indoor Wireless CoverageThis is our first post about improving indoor wireless coverage for cell phones, smart phones and wireless devices in general. How often have you dropped a call in the middle of conversation or had to go outside even to make a call with your cellular phone?  Many customers of wireless companies have experienced this from time to time, simply because the signal is not strong enough for your phone to make and hold a connection. It can happen in homes as well as in retail and commercial areas. It is very frustrating for many people.

Indoor wireless coverage will vary significantly between the outdoors and inside a building, particularly one that has a steel shell.  The steel shell of the building will act as a barrier to the signal. Some power from the signal will get through, but most will not and your cell phone just cannot deal with such a weak signal. If the signal is already a weak signal because you are a long way from the cellular tower, then when you go inside you will have a much weaker signal and your cell phone just will not operate very well.

Cellular coverage or wireless coverage is a function of the strength of the signal that the wireless companies are transmitting, the weather conditions, obstructions between you and the transmitting tower and the quality of the cell phone you are carrying.

In terms of obstructions these can be anything from hills, trees, bridges, buildings and interior walls as well as interference from other signals. Many people find that their cell phones work well outside and then fade as they go inside their homes or offices. They either miss calls or find that their established calls are dropped as a result.

Even weather conditions can sometimes impact the signal strength and decrease the power to a level that your cell phone will not work properly. Fortunately there is a solution to this problem.

Indoor Wireless Coverage – Solution

The solution is to install a cellular repeater which picks up the signal outdoors, amplifies and retransmits the signal indoors to improve your cell coverage indoors. Several companies provide products that will help in this regard. These products vary in price as well as performance, so it is important to do your research first before spending in money on these solutions. One area to consider is how much area they will cover to improve the service. Another is to make sure that the device is approved by the cellular carrier that operates in your area.

There are several products on the market that provide this sort of capability to enhance cellular, PCS, 1XRTT and EVDO signals. Consumers can do a simple test to see what happens when they go inside their homes and offices to see if a phone antenna booster might be the answer to your needs.

When you are outside, examine the signal strength displayed on your cell phone. Count the number of bars that are displayed under the cell phone signal strength icon. Now go inside and do the same thing to see if the signal strength has decreased or not. If it has, your signal is being dampened by the building and you probably could use a cell phone antenna booster of some sort to boost your signal. You may want to also try different locations in the building to see if there is a difference. Try the location were you noticed more dropped calls or failure to make a call.

Coverage Map

You can develop a coverage map pretty quickly by checking the signal strength using the number of bars displayed on your phone.  If you decide to purchase an amplifier for your cellular signal, this coverage map inside of your building will help you to figure out which is the best location to place the indoor amplifier and receive the best signal enhancement.

Once you have settled on a solution and arranged to have the repeater installed into your home of office, recheck the coverage map by again checking the signal level in all of the same locations and note the signal strength on your phone. You should notice an improvement and of course better call service with your cell phone. If you do not notice   a difference, your repeater may not be working or it may be configured for the wrong frequencies. Your supplier can assist you with this issue.

We will have many more posts about this issue and wireless issues in general over the next year. Feel free to post comments about our blog, or to suggest additional topics for us t consider adding to the web site. All constructive comments are welcome. For more posts about wireless coverage, click here.

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