Author Archives: Michelle Lentz

It’s only been, what, four years since the iPhone was released? It seems that Apple and AT&T have finally ended the annoying exclusivity that has caused countless dropped calls. You can now get the iPhone on Verizon – or at least you can get it beginning Thursday, February 10. “Qualified” Verizon Wireless customers will be given the exclusive opportunity to pre-order the iPhone 4 online on February 3, ahead of general availability.

“We are pleased to introduce millions of wireless users to the industry leading iPhone 4 on the nation’s most reliable network,” said Lowell McAdam, president and chief operating officer of Verizon. “This is an important step for the industry as two great companies join forces to give wireless customers one of the most important technological additions to the mobile landscape this century.”

iPhone 4 on Verizon Wireless is the same iPhone as AT&T except it will include new Personal Hotspot capabilities allowing customers to use iPhone 4 to connect up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices. Basically, you can turn your iPhone into a Mifi. Oh, and it runs on CDMA*. Nothing in the press release mentions Verizon’s new LTE network, so I believe that the iPhone, whether on AT&T or Verizon, is still 3G. If there’s an LTE announcement, I imagine it would come from Steve Jobs as part of whatever the iPhone 5 might be.

I have my fingers crossed that mass iPhone adoption on Verizon won’t turn “America’s Most Reliable Network” into another AT&T.  This also levels the playing field. Verizon has led with amazing Android-based phones throughout 2010, but that’s all changing. Both AT&T and Verizon will have iPhones and some pretty impressive upcoming Android phones, including the Atrix (AT&T) and the Bionic (Verizon). Additionally, both carry the iPad, the Galaxy, and Verizon will also offer the Motorola Xoom tablet. It’s going to come down to price and speed, now that the choices aren’t so very different.

Should you rush out and get one? Well, for all the hype, remember that iPhone announcements tend to happen in June, with new phones in July. Your iPhone 4 might be old news in 6 months. And if you’re traveling to Europe? Whether you’re AT&T or Verizon, the iPhone is not the phone you want to purchase.

iPhone 4 will retail on Verizon for $199.99 (16GB) and $299.99 (32GB) with a new two year customer agreement. iPhone 4 will be available at more than 2,000 Verizon Wireless Communications Stores nationwide, online at  www.verizonwireless.com/iphone, at Apple Retail Stores, at the Apple Store® (www.apple.com), at Apple Authorized Resellers, and by calling 1-800-2 JOIN IN.

*CDMA:  you won’t be able to have a call going and surf the Internet on Verizon’s CDMA network, unlike AT&T’s network.

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Cheers!
Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by one of her day jobs.

Shortly before the holidays, I got my hands on a Samsung Galaxy Tab as offered by Verizon. I have an iPad to which, now that I have 4.2, I’m rather devoted. I also have had any number of Android-based phones over the last year to which I am also pretty loyal. The Galaxy Tab, being both a tablet and an android device, rather split my loyalties.

It’s 7 inches as opposed to the 8.5×11 iPad. I had a really hard time adjusting to the size and at first, I found it to be the biggest detriment. After all, I love the giant size of the iPad. As an Android phone user, I felt like I was just using a giant version of my phone. However, we went to Key West over the holidays and I found the smaller size of the Galaxy grew on me. It fit in my my purse pocket, unlike my iPad, so I could always have it with me. It’s also about the size of my Kindle, making it super easy to use one-handed (and with either hand).

The specs are pretty, um, spectacular: Android 2.2 (FroYo), 1024×600 WSVGA LCD display, accelerometer, Swype included with the virtual keyboard, 1 Ghz processor, 2 GB internal  + a pre-installed 16 GB microSD card (supportable up to 32 GB). It supports WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G.  I can’t argue with the specs, and the Galaxy was rather blazingly fast. I could also use it for about two days of moderate use before the battery died, which is a pretty good length of time. I also love the expandable storage and that’s one of the reasons I won’t go back to an iPhone.

The power button is on the top right, which is about the only thing I didn’t like. I think I’ve just been conditioned to the power button located on top. The touch screen was incredibly sensitive, which is both good and bad. I loaded Angry Birds, since it’s an app I can compare across many devices (plus it’s fun). At times, I’d get bumped out of the game because a part of my hand was touching the screen and it sent me out to the main menus. So it is almost hyper-senstive in terms of touch. The screen is beautiful though. On the iPad, I run Angry Birds HD, which is meant to be pretty on the larger screen. However, on the Galaxy, I ran the same version of Angry Birds I run on my phone and it is so much more lovely on the Galaxy, not pixelated at all and finally so easy to see. Because the Galaxy is small enough, upsizing phone apps for the tablet doesn’t lead to the ugliness you see when you upsize an iPhone app to the iPad.

I found the camera to be one of the funnest features of the Galaxy, by far. I’m disappointed in the resolution – only 3.0 MP rear-facing camera, although it has a flash and the standard “camera” features. There’s also a 1.3 MP front-facing camera, but I have to question that a little, only because it flips words around, almost like a mirror. In the below photo, taken with the front-facing camera, we’re wearing Santa hats that say Key West, only you’ll notice the words are reversed as in a mirror image.

However, the Galaxy Tab makes up for the weird mirror-image thing with the panoramic options, which is also found in the Droid X. Using the 3 MP rear-facing camera, you can take an entire panoramic shot and the tablet will tell you where to turn and stop, encompassing an entire area and then stitching it all together for you. This option allowed us to get some remarkable shots on vacation.

Because it’s an Android device, you can more fully customize the screens, using widgets and downloading apps from the Android Market. Thanks to FroYo, which works smoothly on the Galaxy, Flash is incorporated from the get-go. The Galaxy has support for Bluetooth, Wifi, and 3G.

The only other quibble I have about this device is the price tag. Verizon is currently selling it for $600 with month-to-month 3G access. Now, you can use it with just wifi, but it’s still $600. When you look at the price of a comparable (16 GB, Wifi only) iPad, it’s not really the best deal. I really enjoyed the device and in the end, it’s the size that really appealed to me. If the price would drop only a little, I might be ready to trade in the iPad.

Want a full-on comparison between the Galaxy Tab and the iPad? PC World has a great one. I’m glad I got my hands on this a few months after the initial release. Initial reviews were dodgy, but it seems like Samsung has worked out some of the bugs and my review copy worked like a charm.

I’m looking forward to CES next week, where I’m hoping a slew of Android tablets will show up. I have my fingers crossed that, as usual, Apple led the way but Android will diverge from the path with new and creative options.

(Note – I reviewed a device provided by Verizon Wireless, however, all four major carriers are carrying or will soon carry the Galaxy Tab.)

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Cheers!
Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by one of her day jobs.

A bit of cuteness to finish your Friday…

The Knoxville Zoo has two little red panda (firefox) cubs sponsored by Mozilla Firefox. Honestly, when you see these little creatures, you’ll coo and want to hug one.

You can watch the streaming live video at FirefoxLive.org. You can also help name the cuteness, er, cubs. Their parents were named Akkali and Chewbacca. I’m thinking some geeks might have helped named Dad as well. ;-)

Back in September, when I was refusing to even think about snow, I was sent a pair of SmarTouch gloves from Isotoner (free sample, etc). The SmarTouch gloves are one of the many types of gloves you’ll find on the market this year that allow you to use your touchscreen device without freezing your fingers off. I wasn’t immediately blown away, mostly because it was still in the 80 degree range in Cincinnati and because they are a terrible teal color. I sort of filed the gloves away for later use.

Thanksgiving arrived and we headed north to Chicago to visit family. On a whim, I took the Isotoner SmarTouch gloves with me. After all, it was cold in Cincinnati, but freezing in Chicago. The gloves work. I had no problem keeping the gloves on and using my HTC Incredible (touchscreen) or my husband’s iPhone. I had to slow my typing a bit, as the gloves are larger than just my bare hands, but they certainly worked without a problem.

Some of the gloves you’ll see on the market have small metallic receptors sewn in – I’m not completely sure what happens when you need to clean those gloves. The Isotoners are completely washable, which is good. They work because they have conductive threads embroidered on teh index fingers and thumbs. The threads convey electrical impulses to the touchscreen.

The Isotoner SmarTouch gloves are available in men’s and women’s styles. I’ve seen them on-sale a lot locally, considering that it’s 23 degrees in Ohio now. Are they warm? Well, they aren’t the warmest gloves I own, nor are they as warm as any of my leather gloves, which is really what I prefer. (If someone makes leather touchscreen compatible gloves, please let me know!) On the other hand, they certainly beat fingerless gloves when it’s 23 degree out. The gloves worked well enough that I actually purchased a grey pair, which I find much more practical than teal.

Isotoner is also running a “Give the Gift of Touch” sweepstakes in which you and a friend can win a pair of gloves and an iPad. All you have to do is send a friend a virtual pair of smarTouch™ gloves on Facebook. If they click on the gift, both are entered to win.

SmarTouch gloves are available at most major department stores and online. They retail for around $40 but always seem to be on sale for around $19.99 – $25.

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Cheers!
Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by one of her day jobs.

I woke up this morning to an NPR article on an artist in Paris. David Hockney, a 73-year old, has just opened a new gallery exhibition called Fresh Flowers. He means really fresh … all of the art was created on iPads and/or iPhones using an app called Brushes.  He occasionally emails new paintings or updates to the displayed images. Once the exhibition is over, the paintings will be gone for good. Like real fresh flowers, digital art is apparently only temporary.

Image: "Untitled, 10 July 2010" by David Hockney via NPR

So that came to mind when I received a press release about Art Rage, a new app available for the iPad. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I’m told it lets you become a mobile digital artist, “painting digitally on an iPad canvas with oil paints that smear and blend, and watercolors that flow together to create soft, wet gradations, just as they would in a traditional art studio.”  ArtRage sponsored “Future Canvas,” in San Francisco a few days ago – an art event dedicated to iPad art.

ArtRage for iPad: Nelson's StarWars Boy

Features of Art Rage include

  • Printing support: Print your images via AirPrint (assuming you have one of the few printers with which AirPrint works).
  • User definable canvas sizing: Create new files at any size up to 1440 x 1440.
  • Quick Access Color Sampling: Access color sampling via simple toggle switch.
  • Zoom Level: Precise zoom level is indicated while you zoom.
  • User Interface Enhancements: Includes current preset highlights and other visual feedback.

Coming in at $6.99, ArtRage is also less expensive than I would have thought, considering I often end up paying $9.99 for an iPad app.  Additionally, there are desktop versions for both Mac & PC that have more features, but really … the idea of creating great art with my fingertips – like fingerpainting – is way more exciting than using my PC.

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Cheers!
Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by one of her day jobs.