Smart Phones

Travelling with Smart Phones

Travelling with Smart PhonesAnyone who has traveled and used their smart phone will already know about this huge issue. I you have already received a bill for the time you used while out of the country then you know it is expensive. If you have not received your most recent bill yet, that covers the time you were out of the country when you used your phone you could be in for a big surprise. Travelling with Smart Phones can keep you connected, but watch your phone charges.

Roaming charges for both voice, text and data are incredibly high for anyone without a roaming plan outside their home country. The charges can be as much as $3.00 a minute or more in some cases just for voice calls. This can add up very quickly even if you are on a 10 minute call and will spend $30 for that call.

Travelling with Smart Phones

Many customers will turn off their data plans while they are traveling just to protect themselves from data charges. Even if you are not checking for email, your smart phone can be checking for up dates, syncing and receiving alerts to the various apps that you have on your phone. All of this data adds up and can amount to a significant charge if you are not careful.

Text messaging is the same. Most smart phones do not let you block the text messaging service. You have to call the carrier to stop the service from sending text messages to your phone. If you open them you will definitely be charged at international rates which can again be very expensive. Check with your carrier to find out just how expensive they are. Some will levy charges just for sending them to you even if you do not open the message.

Buy a Local Phone

Many customers will purchase a local prepaid phone in the country they are traveling in. Although the per minute charges are higher than what they might currently be paying for their service in their home country , the rates for prepaid service are often much lower than roaming rates.

You can do all of the same things you do on your regular phone depending on the phone and the prepaid package you subscribe to. Text , voice, and data are possible, although if you are traveling for a short time, voice and text messaging are probably ok.

WiFi Locations

Free WiFi sites are becoming more and more predominant and these sites are great to sync up and check emails, markets , apps such as Facebook, twitter etc. You can use your existing smart phone in most cases if it allows wi-fi connections. Again do not forget to shut off the data when you leave the wi-fi site to avoid a nasty surprise.
Changing countries

Each time you change countries, you need to pay attention to these issues. Traveling in North America, you only have to worry about Canada, the US and Mexico.  However in Europe you can travel across several countries in several hours, so keeping track of mobile phone plans can be difficult. Again buy a phone that is prepaid and covers the countries you are traveling in. Only buy enough minutes for what you think you will need. You can always top them up if you need more.

We would love to hear about your experiences traveling with your mobile phones and smart phones. Any tips and tricks that you can pass along will be much appreciated. For more details about smart phone security, click here.

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Smart Phone Security

Smart Phone SecuritySmart Phone Security, can include were someone hacks into your smart phone and takes over your phone, or someone stealing your phone. This post is about the type of Smart Phone Security when someone steals your phone!

A good friend of mine was walking down the street the other day reading her email or sending a text message. I know you are not supposed to that. There has been all kinds of reports were people have hurt themselves walking into objects and other people. They even walk into the middle of the road and are hit by cars. That is actually another reason for not doing this sort of thing, but this post is focused on Smart Phone Security.

Anyway she was walking along, not really paying attention to what she was doing. Suddenly a guy walked up beside her and grabbed the smart phone out of her hands. Easy to do since she was holding it loosely while pressing the keyboard as she was preparing to send a message.

Apps Are Not Password Protected

She has a lot of apps on her Smart Phone , however they all have auto sign on turned on. Yes, her bank information, her credit cards, Paypal, Skype and much much more. Worse her phone was open and turned on because she was using it. Easy for someone to keep using the phone until the battery wore down, accessing her bank account and other applications that she has on the phone.

We used to be worried about losing our cell phone and someone racking up huge long distance charges. You still need to worry about this, but even more important is the applications we have on these Smart Phones and the damage someone can do to us financially. And I am not even mentioning the wireless transfer of funds when you bump smart phones together!

So How Do we Avoid Smart Phone Security being jeopardized?

There are numerous ways to tighten up security on our phones as well as avoid the type of situation my friend had over the weekend. Here is a partial list which if you follow will certainly decrease the chance of both having your phone stolen as well as losing money through Smart Phone applications that are open. Here we go:

  • Do not text, email or use apps while walking or driving
  • Keep your Smart Phone locked at all times except when using it
  • Keep a firm grip on your Smart Phone when using it
  • Make sure no one observes you as you enter passwords
  • Make sure you phone auto locks after 15 seconds of no activity
  • Never store passwords on your Smart Phone
  • Always type your passwords into the phone when accessing an app
  • Never write down passwords

If your Smart Phone  is stolen or lost, it still is a big loss, however not as big as you might think if your apps are compromised. Following the above steps will help to limit the loss of your phone.

We will let you know the details of how the situation turned out in our next post, however for readers who do not have the time to come back next week, she did get her phone back in an interesting way.

Wipe Your Smart Phone

Another common method for smart phones offered by some carriers is that you can wipe your phone if it is stolen or lost. This is a good thing, assuming you will never get your phone back, however by the time you reach your carrier and have the phone wiped the damage will already have been done. Protect yourself by not using your phone when you are not paying attention to were you are going or in large crowded areas.

We appreciate comments on this subject of Smart Phone Security as well as our suggestions to protect yourself. Please leave comments as well with additional suggestions that we can alert our readers to for improving their personal Smart Phone Security.

For more on Smart phones and security issues, click here.

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Smart Phone Buying

What's Wrong with the iPadMake your choice about buying a smartphone based on how you will use it, not on how it looks or what the most popular model is. This is a great statement, but really difficult to follow. It is like saying don’t be emotional about the car you really want to buy, even though it is too expensive for you. If you are in the market for a new phone, and are planning to move to a smartphone, you really have to decide how you are going to use it. Also were you are going to use it and what applications you will use to make sure you will get the value you are looking for. Smart Phone Buying is as complex as purchasing a computer that does many different functions. In fact the smart phone is a computer.

Once you get past the price of the phone and many are free or almost free, it is the monthly costs that will really surprise you. Data plans can add up in a hurray, especially if you download a lot of material from Youtube and use GPS location services. If you roam , the cost can skyrocket, so it pays to think through this carefully before you buy a smartphone.

The up-front prices of smartphones have dropped, and you can score even some of the newest models for free with a two or three-year contract. High end models can still cost a lot as well. But add-ons bump up the cost of ownership fast. Determine your price range for both the device, added memory, chargers, car chargers, transfer fee’s etc  and the service before you walk into a store.

Mobile Phone CostsGenerally you’ll need a voice plan, a data plan and a text-messaging plan. To figure out what to buy, look at your old cellphone bills: How many minutes have you actually used each month, were they incoming or outgoing, what time of day did you make the most calls, and how many texts did you send? Do you send a lot of data, or is it just emails that you receive. Going over your plan limit is like an overdraft fee on a checking account — it’s an expensive mistake and a waste of cash. Also your plan may include added fees for call display, voice mail and other services that you routinely use. Make sure you have included all of these services when you are comparing a new plan and a new smartphone service to ensure that you receive good value for your phone purchase.

Save Money – Smart Phone Buying

One way to save money is to check out family plans, even if only one family member wants a smartphone. Some plans will let you share voice minutes without adding text messaging and data units to all the phones on the plan. That way, only one member of the family has to pay the additional fees — and the overall cost may be more reasonable. While this is a reasonable approach, it only works if you are able to and willing to speak to the customer retention group. Let them know that you are thinking about moving elsewhere and they may offer you a better deal.

What is WiFiTiming your purchase can also pay off. Take advantage of the beginning of the school year, Christmas, the end of your contract and other special sales that the phone companies offer from time to time. If the competition is making a big play to gain customers, you may be able to leverage this into a better deal for you, while staying with the same company.

Other factors are also important when you choose a smart phone. Screen size can make the difference between enjoying movies and playing games a success. The bigger the better. Touch screen phones are really intuitive and easy to use. This is an important feature that you probably want to consider.

Applications are becoming as essential as the smartphone itself. Apple is the market leader with over 300,000  applications, but other competitors like Android are in full throttle and are catching up.

Talk to friends and family, even strangers who are using the phone you are considering and find out if it is really the smart phone for you. It is combination of features, price for the phone, and price for the services. You may get a great deal on the phone, but then pay a lot for the services so do your homework before you take the plunge. For more information on smart phone buying, click here.

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Smart Phone Growth

Smart phones are being purchased so quickly that in just a few more years , the gadgets will be ubiquitous. In fact smart phones have recently surpassed the purchase of non smart phones and are causing the disconnection of thousands of land lines.

Many people think that by 2015, ownership of smart phones will surpass 80% in North America, matching the ownership of PC’s or desktop computers. This represents a huge market for the companies that got in early and have developed a platform to build on.

Wifi & Your Data PlanThere is becoming a clear distinction between smart phone use and the use of personal computers. Although most if not all PC owners will also have a smartphone as well, their uses will be quite different. Staying in touch by email, text messaging, social networking will migrate to the smartphone. Preparing documents of all types, research, etc etc will continue to be the playground of the PC. Some smart phones will cross over partially. With suitable forms type app’s, they can be used as on the job reporting devices to assist them in reporting everything from sales to reading meters.

There is no doubt that there are new opportunities waiting for the folks that took the plunge in developing a smart phone as well as those that are focused on developing applications for the smart phone. Creating new business models and cash flows will definitely put some pressure on the existing incumbents as sales and cash flow come under pressure.

If experts’ predictions come true, the tech world could look quite different in the next five to 10 years.

Smart Phone Growth – Your Personal Always On Device

Apple iPad 2Desk top PCs  can be shared among multiple family members or coworkers, lap tops became more personal since you typically carried it with you to meetings and on business trips. A smart phone on the other hand is always with you and always connected, making it your personal always on always connected device. That makes it very, very personal and heralds a huge change in the way we communicate.

For some users the smart phone is becoming your personal electronic wallet, your financial manager and your personal assistant that gets you to meetings etc on time and in the right place.  Apps store passwords, health information, financial transactions, daily calendars, to-do lists and detailed e-mail trails, plus games and vast entertainment libraries of books, movies and music.

From Cars to refrigerators, all will have a smart capability and be connected, however the smart phone will be  the remote control for our digital lives. Many people will still use PCs, iPods, iPads, laptops, tablets and many more devices, but it will be the smart phone that will always be on and will be always with you!

Your digital stalker

When to Buy Cell Phone InsuranceThe smart phone knows where you are, constantly and that means also that thephone company or your phone provider can also find you anytime as well as long as you have your smart phone with you. That’s another watershed for the tech field.

No one knows quite how that technology will play out (or pay off), but everyone wants a foothold. Twitter and Facebook recently added location-aware capabilities, and venture capitalists are throwing cash at location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), Yelp and Groupon are diving deep into the local advertising markets.

Where you are is now one of the most important — and potentially lucrative — aspects of your identity from an advertising perspective, because this information provides vendors with information about what they can advertise to whom based on location.

The Tech Field Will go Through an Re-ordering Process

The roster of gadgets orbiting your smart phone will vary based on application and use. For example most people will still use desktops, with large screens for their work, especially information workers who generate content and applications. Tiny screens are just not suitable for these types of activities. Some people who like specialized equipment will still use other gadgets for specific tasks. A smart phone is ok for a quick picture to be sent off to your friends and family, however if you want high quality pictures, most people will go with a dedicated camera,

Some devices will die off or become specialized. We will gravitate to less paper, but never eliminate paper so printers will still be needed. In fact there are people who own desktops, cameras and smart phones, but no printers already!

Competition

The tech giants are competing for the smart phone and this is a giant battle that will not be soon over. Already giants like Apple, Dell and others are introducing enhancements to their phones. Even Google with Android is in the competition for space in this market. The carriers are also lining up with smart phones, however they seem to be taking a more careful approach. Rather than bet on one horse, they are introducing as many smart phones as they can to attract as many customers as they can.

These carriers such as Verizon and Sprint in the US and Bell and Telus in Canada along with Rogers are competing for every minute and bit of data that can be carried on their networks.

The question is, is this the beginning of a major shift in technology and the way we use these devices, or are we well along the way. Only time will tell, but you can be sure that all of the major players will be competing for your dollars in the market for some time to come.

We would like to hear your opinions about this post and more specifically what you think the next big disruption is going to be in the technology field. For more information about smart phones and other items of interest, click here.

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Smart Phone Applications & Use

Smart Phone ApplicationsThe following is a repost of an article we saw online and felt that our readers might find it interesting. Unfortunately we did not catch the author of this post, so if you happen to know who the author is, please leave a comment and we will be glad to update this post with the authors name and give full credit to him or her. We do not like to copy other peoples work, but when we see a really good post, that we think fits with our work, we like to add it to our blog.

We thought this is so interesting because it really heralds the new trend in marketing and advertisers should take note as well as people who regularly write posts for a living. Your audience is going to someone using a smart phone in the future!

Smart Phone Applications

Enjoy the post!

Advertisers take note: People who have phones with Android operating systems are more likely to open an advertisement inside an app than are iPhone users. That, at least, is what the Nielsen  Company says in a new report that it released on Monday about how people use mobile apps.

The report is the result of the company’s Mobile Apps Playbook survey of 4,000 people, which Nielsen embarked upon last December. It opens with a dose of realism, saying that “most Americans can’t imagine leaving home without their mobile phones,” and pointing out that one in four of the respondents own a smartphone that is “more powerful than the computers initially used to send men to the moon.”

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What did the respondents do with these phones? Download a lot of apps. As of June 2010, according to the report, 59 percent of the smartphone owners surveyed, and nearly 9 percent of the feature phone users, said they had downloaded a mobile app in the last month.

The respondents also are playing a lot of games. The report states that 61 percent of smartphone owners surveyed said they had bought and used a game within the past month.

They’re checking the weather, too. After games, the second most-used category of apps on the mobile phone were weather related, with 55 percent of phone owners surveyed using such applications, the report said. The smartphone owners surveyed also like mapping and navigation apps, social networking programs that access Facebook and Twitter, and music-related apps, according to Nielsen.

The respondents in the survey rarely download instant messenger apps and those used to make Internet voice over phone calls, the report found.

When comparing the different applications based on the type of phone used, the results were almost uniform across platforms.

Facebook, The Weather Channel, Google Maps and the music service Pandora were in the top five apps used on the iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile platforms.

In a blog post on the company’s Web site, Nielsen said, “One of the main challenges facing apps publishers is making sure consumers discover their apps.” And so Nielsen asked the phone owners how they discover and find new apps.

According to the researchers, 40 percent of those surveyed said they found new programs directly on their phones, while 36 percent said they heard about new apps from friends and family.

In addition to the finding about how Android and iPhone users treated advertisements on their phones, the report found that teenagers were “much more receptive than their elders” in engaging with mobile advertising inside an app, with 58 percent of teenagers telling the Nielsen researchers that they look at mobile ads.

Nielsen app market
For more information about smart phones and content, click here.

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What’s Wrong with the iPad

What's Wrong with the iPadFirst of all in the interests of full disclosure I am a PC user and have been since he first DOS machines came out on the market place. I have gone through all of the upgrades and platform changes and all of the releases and issues that we all know and love with Microsoft. What’s wrong with the iPad?

Having said that I have recently purchased an iPod Touch mainly for the flexibility it gave me when I am traveling and need to get on the net to check my email, Facebook accounts etc.  There seems to be sufficient WI-FI sites available that I can reasonably find a location where I can get access to the net. It even has helped with my wife’s shopping were I tag along waiting for her to select something and try it on. I can amuse myself with browsing the net, or play games if I cannot get access were we are. However I digress from the main topic of looking at the iPad and what is wrong with the IPAD

What Am I looking for in a Computer?

This is probably my first mistake, since the iPad , although it is a computer is not a computer in the truest sense. Instead it is really a device that is aimed at a particular market segment with a particular set of tasks in mind. As far as I can tell it is really aimed at people who want an easy to use device to browse the internet, view pictures, view web sites and read books. There are thousands of apps that will be ready for the iPad in the next few months as well.

Let’s face it, if this is your need and your criteria , there is really nothing wrong with the iPad!

What you cannot do with the iPad is connect an external screen to it, you cannot connect an external keyboard and you cannot print from it. Fans will argue that you do not need to do this and there is an on screen keyboard for those that need to send emails and text messages.

What’s Wrong with the iPad – Power PC Users

This title implies someone who sits at their computer for hours and hours working on developing apps, developing and writing documentation, spreadsheets and presentations. While other technical experts will use their computers to interface with and debug programs and hardware that is being tested and developed.  These applications are really far from the planned or intended use of the iPad.

These users need external keyboards that are ergonomically designed with multi screens, printers, fax machines and various test gear that the need to attached to their computers. Since they spend so much time in front of their screens, they also need to be able to sit at desks and used keyboards that are ergonomic to protect their posture and their wrists from things like carpel tunnel syndrome.

So if you fit into this category and this is all you do with a computer, then the iPad is probably not for you. The iPad does not even have a USB port.

Do you Need Both Devices

There is an argument for owing both the computer of some sort as well as an iPad. If I had not purchased an iPod Touch, I probably would not have written this comment. The Ipad is basically a larger iPod Touch with many of all the same functions and format on a larger screen.

I have used a PC computer for many years to do most of the things I mentioned above. I use a laptop for its convenience, I can take it anywhere, use it whenever I need it as long as I can get connected to the internet and I can work off line as well on large documents, presentations and spreadsheets that I routinely work on.

Lately though i have found that the iPod Touch is being used more and more. The iPad fits into the same category. I have read and responded to my email around the pool, the restaurant while waiting in line, called via Skype to friends and family and lounged in front of the TV with the family watching a program while scanning the news. I just cannot easily do all of this on my PC in those locations.

So for me there is definitely a use for the iPad in addition to the regular PC.  However personally  I like the iPod Touch for ease of carrying it and its overall size and use.

Love to hear your comments as well. For more information about the ipad and smart phones, click here.

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iPad – What you need to know

There have been over 400,000 iPads written at the time of writing this blog, iPadhowever before it gets actually published there could quite possibly be thousands more iPads in consumers hands. We have looked at a number of areas that consumers may want to consider when buying an iPad. Although it is not billed as a computer and does not have the flexibility of a computer, many people are lining up to get this latest Apple product. It does have a lot of benefits, however there are some drawbacks as well which may or may or not be important to some users.

Review

Apps – It can run most if not all of the apps developed for the iPhone and for the iPod Touch, however they will most likely be the size of the small screens of the iPhone. If you expand them on the iPad, you will probably get pixelization.  Apps are being upgraded and or developed all of the time.

Cost – The price varies from $499 to $899 with memory and 3G connectivity being the main differences. Note that if you opt for the 3G version you will also need to subscribe to a monthly data plan with AT&T adding further cost. All iPads support WI-FI. If you spend $899, you may as well purchase a computer that has more features and business applications that you can add.

Display – similar display to the iPhone and the impound Touch. If you are already familiar with these devices, you will find that iPad the same with a larger screen

Web –Excellent for browsing the web with the same drawbacks as on the smaller devices. iPad uses Safari, which does not support tabs and does not support Adobe Flash, so if you go to sites that require Adobe, you are going to get error messages.

Wireless –The iPad supports WI-FI and AT&T’s 3G wireless plans. If you really need wireless on the go, you will need to pay the extra monthly cost. The iPad is fast and displays web pages with lightening speed.

Books – must be purchased from Apples book store with many titles and newspapers getting into the program there will be lots of content to review. Some reviews indicate that the iPad may be a little hard on the eyes vs. the Kindle if you do a lot of reading.

Email – reading email is similar to the iPhone, with a large screen of course, however the onscreen keyboard although better than it’s smaller cousin, is still not ergonomically sufficient for typing long emails.

Keyboard – Typing long emails is tough on the iPad and there is no USB connection to add an external keyboard.

Size – The iPad weighs a light 1.5 pounds and can be carried easily in your hands or in your briefcase. Most people are shown reclining with the iPad propped on their knees. This is not ergonomically designed , however convenience and ease of use are the primary benefits.

Games – supports all of the iPhone games and more are expected. Brilliant screen makes games on the iPad especially great to play on.

Music – Play all of your favorite songs with the iPad, listen on the built-in mono speaker, stereo headphones or plug it into an external system to listen to your music.

Photos – The iPad does not have a built-in camera, so you must import your pictures from other devices. Pictures can be displayed full screen or in groups. Note that if your pictures are taken with low resolution you might get pixelization when displayed full screen, which is a problem with the picture not the iPad

Movies – great for watching movies with the sharp clear screen. But the iPad doesn’t support the wide screen 16:9 format of most movies, so viewers will have to look at thick black edges on two sides.

Hardware – The iPad features a standard 3.5-mm jack for headphones, a dock connector port, a built-in speaker and a microphone. The 3G models also include a tray for a micro SIM card. Noticeably absent: USB and HDMI ports.

Battery – A built-in battery that cannot be replaced by the user. Apple can replace the battery for a fee. It is important to use your iPad properly , draining the battery every time so that you do not prematurely build in battery memory effects. As will all devices of this type, keep them away from water and high temperatures.

For more information about the iPad and smart phones, click here.

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IPAD vs. Laptop Computers

All of the experts are weighing in on the new Apple iPad. It has just been released and how it will take over the world, Experts feel that it will make all other computers obsolete and not worth the money you would spend on them. So what are Laptop Computersthe issues that people should be aware of. Why would you want to purchase an iPad and/or also have a regular computer?

The short answer really depends on what type of user you are of computers in general. We will try to break this down and let you decide for yourself, however recognize that it is early days yet and we have not had the opportunity to play with an iPad. We have been reading articles by various experts who have managed to get their hands on one of these new devices.

IPAD vs. Laptop Computers

Surfing the Internet, Social Networking sites, Email

Like the I-phone and the iPod Touch, the iPad should excel at this application. With touch screens and relative straightforward typing or input requirements, the iPad is ideal for this. With built in wireless WiFi capability,  fast computing and surfing capability, we expect that users will be more than satisfied with the iPad.

Smaller and less weight to carry around, with the touch screen, it is ideal for carrying around with you to the coffee shop or to work or to a meeting were you can keep up with emails , read the mail or monitor podcast presentations from anywhere you can gain access to the internet via WiFi.

Convenience and ease of use is the major selling point of the iPad. Anyone can use it, in fact it is intuitive surfing of the net. Whether it is your grandmother or your uncle who has never had a computer, the iPad will be the device of choice. The larger screen makes the difference for those who find reading small print difficult.

There is a large market for this general application of computers.

Apps

Currently we have read that any app that works on the iPod Touch or the I-phone will work on the iPad.  We doubt that Apple has had the opportunity to test every one of the 100,000+ apps that work on the smaller devices, however rest assured that within a month, they will be identified and updated.

Many developers are already working on new apps, with many available for the release of the iPad.  Those of you that like the I-phone and the iPod Touch for the app’s will continue to enjoy the same app’s on the iPad.

Preparing Presentations, Writing Small Documents, and Spreadsheets

Yet to be verified by users in the general market place, the iPad can be used to generate presentations, documents and spreadsheets as well as many other application of this type.  However the on screen keyboard and the lack of an external mouse may limit the number of hours that someone is willing to spend using this on screen key board.

Much has been made about ergonomic keyboards, mice, posture and screen angles for heavy users of computers. Small documents , etc should pose no problem, however we are concerned for those who spend long hours using a computer.

Developing  Music, Podcasts, Videos etc

Even though the eventual product is an app (music, podcast or a video or a an app) to be used by iPad owners on their iPad , developers will likely use Macs or perhaps even PC’s to develop these app’s. These app’s will the thoroughly tested on an iPad, however we doubt that they will be created on an iPad. Simply because to the ergonomics mentioned earlier as well as the computing power and ability to support more intensive programs that will not run on the iPad.

The jury is still out on this of course, however it will be interesting to see how this area of iPad use evolves.

Complex Graphics, Documents and Spreadsheets

Developing App’s, Programming detailed complex programs and documents takes long hours and sometimes significant computer power, display and various interfaces. We seriously doubt that the iPad will fit into this category of computer use.

The ergonomics are bad , the screen size is small for most developers are used to several large screens and the lack of an external keyboard makes the iPad not the ideal computer for this type of application.

Conclusion

There is still life after iPad for traditional computers, however the growth potential may be limited since they are both going after the user whose primary application is surfing the internet and responding to emails and social networking sites.

Power users, developers may also have an iPad, however they will continue to use their main computers for all of the traditional workhorse activities.

Give your comments and opinions about our thoughts and opinions either in agreement or disagreement.

For more information about the iPad and smart phones, click here.

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Apple Ipod as a Phone

Apple Ipod as a PhoneYou can use the Apple iPod as a Phone! I recently picked up an Apple iPod Touch from the Apple store in Las Vegas , Nevada. I had wandered into the store and was browsing some of the products when I was approached by one of the many sales people. I have to say that I am a solid PC user and do not know much about Apple’s products. I was intrigued by the number of customers in the store and everyone seemed to be animated and having a great time collaborating over some project they were working on. Perhaps Apple was running a special collaboration project, but I have never seen this in a PC store. I wanted to have a look at the new iPad which is what brought me into the store in the first place, however they did not have a model to show me so I was disappointed in this area.

Apple Sales People are Good At What they Do

Being a good salesperson, the person I spoke to started querying me about what I was looking for and we then had a conversation about how I might be interested in the iPod Touch.  What I was really looking for was an iPhone without the ATT voice and data plan. He quickly informed me that he could not sell me an iPhone, since it must be sold with an activated ATT plan and that I must also have a US address. I told him I wanted to make phone calls using the iPhone using Skype, browse the internet and check on email. His solution was the iPod Touch which can use WiFi connections to connect with the internet and do all the things that I was looking for. The main application I really wanted was Skype which there is an application for that can easily be installed on the iPod Touch free. I will digress and explain a bit about Skype , however this sold me in the iPod Touch right there. Now I do not need to lug my lap top around looking for a WiFi connection when I want to read email or make a few calls while traveling. Another huge advantage is that I can amuse myself while shopping with my wife by listening to the radio, music or reading news and email as long as there is a WiFi network around which there seems to be ample.

Apple iPod as a Phone – Skype

Skype is an emerging VoIP carrier that provides a free application to install on your PC or in my case the iPod Touch. Once installed, you create an account which is also free and you are ready to go. All of this can be done in about 15 minutes. Once installed, you can talk to any other Skype user for free over the internet as long as they also have Skype installed on their computer. You will need a microphone and it is also nice to have a built in camera as well since you can also do video calls with Skype all at no cost to the user as long as you are calling another Skype user.  Skype makes its money when you call outside of the IP network to a traditional phone or cell phone. Rates are typically 2 cents a minute or less. In order to make these kinds of calls you will need to add some money to your account which can easily be done if you have a Paypal account.

Once Skype was installed on my iPod Touch, I quickly signed in and was ready to make calls to all of my listed contacts. Note that you must be near a WiFi network for the iPod Touch to be able to access the internet and your Skype account. Skype worked just like it does on my PC with free calls to other Skype users and paid calls to cell phone users as well as traditional phone users.

The Apple sales person told me that the iPod Touch is exactly like the iPhone without the phone application installed.  What this really means is that there is no microphone installed and there is not a good ear piece.  Although you can hear sounds through a tiny speaker it is not sufficient for listening to music of other voice sounds. Instead you must use ear buds and a microphone chord which is then plugged into the iPod Touch. The quality is excellent and I have used the Skype application installed on the iPod Touch to make several calls to friends and family. In fact they have told me that the connection is better than when they have talked to me over my computer.

No Data Plan

I am still experimenting with adding app’s to the iPod Touch, however so far I have reviewed all of my emails, read the news using Google reader, checked on the weather, checked on the markets and followed some stocks that I am interested in with Yahoo. All of this may seem trivial to Apple users, however having the convenience of being able to do this with a small device like the iPod, without having to subscribe to a data plan from one of the carriers is a major advantage for me.

There seems to be WiFi networks around wherever we go. I did not realize just how many were available, since I did not always carry my heavy laptop around with me. All of the people with iPhones, Blackberries and other smart phones can access the internet and do all of the things that I just mentioned. However they are tied to a data plan which is a major disadvantage in my books when you can access the internet using WiFi for free!  Also you must be wondering why I chose to include this article in this blog under indoor coverage. Well most WiFi connections are indoor only. If you have a wireless network set up for home use, you can use the iPod touch at home as well while watching TV or whatever to finish up a few emails etc without having your lap top perched on your lap!

For more about iPod touch and smart phones, click here.

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Wireless Phone Plans

Wireless Phone Plans

Have you been looking at new wireless phone plans recently? If you have you probably already know just how complicated many of the wireless phone plans are from many of the carriers in the United States and in Canada. We recently were looking at changing our existing plan to try to save some money each month and at the same time add several features that we decided that we would want. What we found was so complicated and so difficult that we almost gave up. The telephone companies have purposely made it difficult for everyone to select economical wireless phone plans that make sense for each individual person. In this post we will discuss some of the issues that we ran into and look for your comments to help make this clearer for other readers.

I have recently decided that I am just buying my own unlocked phone so that I have the freedom to do what I want and not have to deal with the phone company locked in contract issues. I have 2 years to go on my existing contract which is pretty good, but now I have a phone that does not obligate me to continue with a new 36 month contract. Read on for more tips.

Voice

Our family does a lot of local and long-distance calling with our wireless phones. As a result, we thought that we should have a plan that includes airtime for local calling as well as long-distance calling for one simple rate per minute. In addition we receive a lot of incoming calls and we were looking for something that included an incoming call free rate plan. Since we have multiple phones we also wanted something that allowed for free calling between family members.

The telephone companies have features that meet all of our requirements however if you purchase them on an individual basis your monthly telephone bill will be quite high. As a result we were forced into taking prepackaged plans that include features that we want as well as features that we do not care about or need. We also wanted so-called smart phone features such as call display, calling number ID, called return and voicemail. Again these features are all available individually, however there is often a better package if you purchase them as a bundle.

Text Messages

Text messaging is very popular these days. Many more teenagers use text messaging than adults however even among young adults text messaging is becoming a common way of communicating. We have had more success in communicating with our teenagers by text messaging than we have by phoning them. There are family plans available for text messaging providing 100 200 and 500 text messages per month. Also if there is long-distance involved, sending a text message can be much more economical than actually making a long-distance phone call.

If you do not take a text message plan, the telephone companies will charge you for every text message you send as well as every text message that you receive. If your friends and family members send you a lot of text messages this can become quite expensive. A simple solution is to take the small text message plan of say 50 text messages per month, which allows you to send 50 text messages each month while at the same time receiving unlimited text messages. If you are the type of person who receives more text messages than sending text messages, then this is the plan for you.

Voice Mail

Voice mail is also important to have as part of your overall package. You cannot always answer the phone nor should you if you are in a restaurant, driving a car or otherwise busy at meetings. Having voicemail is a useful way for your callers to still leave a message. Voice mail is often integrated as a bundle with other voice features and you may want to take this into account when making a decision about purchasing voice mail.

There is a right way and a wrong way to leave a voice mail message. Many people will say that so and so is calling and leave the telephone number and nothing else. This is the wrong way to leave a voice message. The person you called has no idea of what you are calling about and whether they should prepare something prior to returning your call. Leaving a detailed message of what you are calling about along with your telephone number and name is the best method to use when leaving a voice message. This way, the person you called can prepare for the return phone call and have the information you are looking for at their fingertips.

Data Plans

Data plans are also very complicated and confusing. In order to know which data plan you should purchase, you should have some idea of the amount of data that you will download to your phone. If you have a smart phone and are planning to do a lot of Internet browsing, to do a lot of music downloading, and especially to view many music videos or video programs on your smart phone then you will need a large data plan. The telephone companies are charging a great deal for data, in fact more than they do for voice. They are trying to recoup some of their lost revenues due to the competition that voice has with all the different carriers providing service. We suggest that you be very careful in managing your data plan so that you do not go over your plan limits. This can become very expensive.

Summary

In summary the first step you should take is to figure out what services you require how many text messages you will send each month what call features you would like and how much data you will need before deciding on which plan you purchase from the wireless phone companies. Data is particularly tricky, due to the large amounts of data required by video. If you feel that you will never download music videos or video programs then you can safely go with a smaller data plan however if you plan to download video and watch programs etc. then you should probably opt for a larger data plan.

Your comments will be much appreciated on this post. For more information about smart phones and plans, click here.


Google Nexus One Phone

We will be reviewing a variety of cellular phones on this web site. We are started with the Apple I-Phone, which is the current leader of the pack and in this post Google Nexus phonewe will review the Google Nexus One Phone.

What follows is an excerpt from TechCrunch Reviews written by Michael Arrington on Jan 5th, 2010.  We have added the detailed specs as provided by Google following the summary. Your comments are welcome.

The phone looks more like the iPhone than any other phone on the market. There is no physical keyboard like the Android-powered Motorola Droid, and the trade off is a much slimmer design. The phone is 11.5 mm deep, slightly thinner than the iPhone 3GS at 12.3 mm. It is also slightly lighter than the iPhone 130 grams v. 135 grams). The package comes with the phone, a removable battery, 4 GB Micro SD storage card (expandable to 32 GB), USB charger and microphone headset.

The Nexus one has four functional touch buttons at the bottom of the screen (back, menu, home, search) and a navigation trackball pointing device. It also has physical power and volume controls. But most of your interaction with the phone will be through the gorgeous 3.7 inch 480 x 800 OLED capacitive touchscreen. This is the best mobile phone display on the market today, blowing away the iPhone’s 480 x 320 display. The screen is bright and alive, and an absolute pleasure to use.

Google Nexus One Phone – Snapdragon

This phone is also powered by the Snapdragon 1 GHz core processor, which is more than able to handle the Nexus One’s 3D graphics, multiple applications running in the background and heavy browser use simultaneously. Unlike previous Android phones, there is no slowdown or lag when you push the phone’s performance, and less of a need to kill applications to keep the device humming.

On the downside: all this hardware bling is an energy hog. The screen will self adjust brightness and Google is smart about turning down the processor when it’s not being used. But I’ve found battery life to be woefully brief, even by iPhone standards. Officially the phone has up to 7 hours talk time, 250 hours standby, 5 hours of 3G Internet use, 7 hours of video playback and 20 hours of audio playback. Unofficially, I was able to kill the fully charged battery with 1.5 hours of continuous gameplay (Robo Defense) on the full-brightness screen. Be prepared to keep this phone near a charger at all times. You can easily view what’s using the battery, though (the screen is 71% of my current usage), and then adjust the hardware or software usage to maximize battery life.

Overall the Android is a superior mobile device, particularly when paired with Google Voice. Google is calling this the first of the Super Phones. And they may not be exaggerating all that much.

Features:

  • 5 mega pixel camera , with auto focus from 6cm to infinity
  • 2 times digital zoom, LED flash
  • User can include location of photos from phone’s AGPS receiver
  • Video captured at 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second or higher, depending on lighting conditions
  • Android Mobile Technology Platform 2.1 (Eclair) Operating system , Qualcomm QSD 8250 1 GHz processor

Display:

3.7 inch display widescreen WVGA AMOLED touchscreen

800 by 400 pixels,  with 100,000 to 1 contract ratio and 1 ms typical response rate

Audio Playback:Audio encoders; AMR-NB 4.75 to 12.2 kbps sampled @ 8kHz

Video Playback: H.263 (encode and decode) MPEG-4 SP (encode and decode) H.264 AVC (decode

Capacity: 512MB Flash; 512MB RAM;  4GB Micro SD Card (Expandable to 32 GB)

Connectors: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack; Dock pin connectors;  Micro USB port

Accessories: Haptic feedback; Second microphone for active noise cancellation; SIM card slot;Micro SD slot

Sensors: Proximity sensor; Light sensor

Headphones: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack

Size & Weight: Height -119mm; Width -59.8mm; Depth-11.5mm; Weight-130 grams w/battery;100g w/o battery

Colors: Black

External Buttons & Controls:

Front / Top

Power;  3.5mm stereo headphone jack;   Charging and notification indicator;   Illuminated capacitive soft keys: Back, Home, Menu, and Search;   Tri-color clickable trackball

Back / Bottom

Camera;   Camera flash;   Speaker;  Dock pin connectors;  Micro USB port; Microphone

Left side

Volume Control;

Cellular & Wireless:

  • UMTS Band 1/4/8 (2100/AWS/900)
  • HSDPA 7.2Mbps
  • HSUPA 2Mbps
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • A2DP stereo Bluetooth

Location: Assisted global positioning system (AGPS) receiver; Cell tower and Wi-Fi positioning; Digital compass; Accelerometer

Power & Battery:

  • Removable 1400 mAH battery, Charges at 480mA from USB, at 980mA from supplied charger
  • Talk time : Up to 10 hours on 2G; Up to 7 hours on 3G
  • Standby time : Up to 290 hours on 2G; Up to 250 hours on 3G
  • Internet use: Up to 5 hours on 3G;Up to 6.5 hours on Wi-Fi
  • Video playback: Up to 7 hours
  • Audio playback: Up to 20 hours

Languages: English (U.S), French (France), German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Korean, Japanese, Russian,

For more about Smart phones, click here.

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