Category Archives: Trends

I spent a lot of time at CES in the eBook pavilion, looking at the various options. While I found most of the hardware to be knockoffs of the popular Kindle and Sony lines, there were one or two that caught my eye.

I got to take a look at the Alex from SpringDesign on Thursday, offsite at a traditional Italian restaurant called Piero’s. In retrospect, while I enjoyed the Italian lunch, this wasn’t the best place to host the event. The lighting was incredibly dark and the ceilings were low, leading to poor photo, video, and sound. But I did my best.

Alex is a dual-screen Android-based eReader and it fully integrates web browsing and reading. The 3.5″ color lower LCD screen on the Alex browses the web, but also allows you to manage your library. SpringDesign has announced deals with Borders and several other content providers. The neatest thing, for me, about Alex was the ability to pull a web page from the small (color) bottom screen to the large top 6″ eInk screen. You lose the color, but you gain in size. The Alex browser and virtual keyboard provide access to email, calculator and will accommodate a growing number of programs from the Google Android community.

Alex can connect with WiFi, 3G, EVDO/CDMA and GSM. It will cost $399 and be released on Feb 22 on the SpringDesign web site.

Below you’ll find a dark and loud video, 10 minutes, of the Alex demo’d at the Piero’s luncheon.

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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 her day job.

by Michelle Lentz

Yesterday at CES, Plastic Logic debuted the QUE ebook reader. This is more than just an ebook reader however; it borders on personal organizer.

Squarely aimed at type-A CEOs, the device comes in at $649 for the 4GB model with wifi and $799 for the 8GB model with wifi and AT&T 3G.  The QUE is oversized, more like the Kindle DX than the Kindle 2. They demo the device with several business publications loaded, including the Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review. Plastic Logic has a content deal with Barnes & Noble.

The design is absolutely gorgeous. QUE design was inspired by a piece of paper. The size of a pad of paper, about 1/3 inch thick, and weighing less than many periodicals (about a pound), QUE features a 10.7-inch shatterproof plastic display—the largest display in the industry. The display screen is rimmed with a shiny black frame. It’s gorgeous, but I suspect it would attract fingerprints – a small complaint really.

The QUE does more than just read newspapers and books. The screen displays your latest emails and calendar, pulled from Outlook. It also displays your favorite subscriptions and books so that you can access those with one touch instead of moving to a Table of Contents screen. In the midst of all this is also the content you are reading. With one touch, you can move from the Organizer style home screen to your content.

When we asked what formats the QUE supported, I laughed. This device is so geared at business that the rep told us “Word, Powerpoint, and Excel.”  Upon further inquiry, she added GIF, JPG, PNG, BMP, TXT, and HTML as well as RTF, Visio, PDF, and ePub. (Right now, I’m almost positive that the Kindle is the only eReader on the market that does not support ePub. Get with the program Amazon – time for another firmware update.)

The QUE is a beautiful device. They clearly put a lot of effort into everything from the design to the one-touch navigation. However, I don’t think it will make a dent in the ever-growing ereader market. From what I saw at CES, only the Alex ebook reader really had some features that can compete with the Kindle, the Nook, and Sony. The QUE is aimed at an affluent, niche market. It’s lovely, but for us average folks, it’s not really practical.

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

by Michelle Lentz

I attended the LG press conference at CES this morning. LG has a lot of cool things coming down the pike – everything you’ve been hearing about such as 3D and wireless/broadband ready televisions, a revised Chocolate phone, and more. But really, I could only see those things on PowerPoint slides since I haven’t yet visited their booth for a hands-on experience.

But LG also showed off an advertising campaign designed to get teenagers to think before they text. “Give it a ponder.” Ideally, the campaign will keep teenagers from sexting or spreading gossip via their mobile phones.

The Give it a Ponder site is similar to the Skittles site, where there isn’t much actual content. It links to Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia (where it defines cyber bullying or mobile harassment). It is the YouTube videos,starring James Lipton, that wer shown in the press conference and really caught my eye. One of them is embedded below. What do you think? Does it get a serious message across in a way that still delivers humor?

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

Ke$ha, a Los Angeles based singer, moved 610,069 downloads of her first single “Tik Tok” in a week placing her at the number 2 spot for one week downloads ever with Flo Rida’s “Right Round” at number one in one week sales (with Ke$ha as an uncredited singer). That number is remarkably similar to the number of times New Moon was illegally downloaded online during it’s first week of release (610,000). That number pales in comparison to the first week illegal downloads for Avatar which came close to one million illegal downloads.

Illegal online downloads during the theater run doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on the box office numbers, the challenge for the movie industry comes when the films are released to DVD/Blu-Ray. With Netflix and other cost effective (or illegal and free) options for watching movies, it’s become harder and harder to sell DVD/Blu-Ray discs. According to the Wall Street Journal, 2009 was the first year since 2002 that ticket sales out did DVD/Blu-Ray sales, challenging the existing business model of the movie industry. The music industry faced a similar challenge with the appearance of digital downloads but they were able to recover from the disaster that Napster could have been after a little resistance. The did lead to the near death of the compact disc.

The movie industry isn’t quite there. With new release digital movie downloads costing up to the monthly membership at Netflix (and I mean the good membership with 3 movies at a time), what is the movie industry to do in 2010 to turn that around? SmartMoney recently released a list of things not to buy in 2010 and along with newspaper subscriptions, new college text books and CDs was DVDs. Perhaps it’s time the industry lower the cost of a digital download and move the home release date closer to the theatrical release date. This will allow for two money making opportunities for the industry and allow for the movie watcher to choose the type of experience they want and trump the massive amount of illegal downloads. Of course, with Avatar passing $1 billion dollars at the box office, the need for change is not as immediate but as the quality and availability of downloads become a bit easier for the non-techie, that may shift quickly.

We did survive the death of the VHS, I think we can make it through the next shift.

by Michelle Lentz

For me, 2009 was the Year of the Suitcase. I traveled more, for both business and pleasure, than I ever have before. That trend looks like it will continue into 2010, which is pretty exciting. In fact, my 2010 kicks off next week with a trip to Las Vegas for CES 2010, where I’ll probably find new gadgets to lust after. Until then, however, I’m thrilled with several of the gadgets that have gotten me through the last year of travel. Some of them aren’t as new as they possibly could be, and some of them are pretty basic, but they all serve their purpose.

Amazon Kindle 2: I pre-ordered this last February. It was my first big gadget purchase of the year and I don’t regret it for a second. Sure, I occasionally lose a lot of patience with Amazon, considering that it won’t read the ePub format. I am a big proponent of ereaders, Kindle or otherwise, and evangelize them to everyone. See me in an airport and want to play with my Kindle? No problem. It has made traveling a lot easier (I used to pack tons of books and now I just pack the Kindle) and I still end up reading myself to sleep by the light of a booklight attached to the Kindle cover.


Sennheiser PXC 250 Noise Canceling Headphones: There are probably better options out there, but these Sennheisers fold up rather small and slip into my purse or briefcase. They block out just about everything, which makes flying so much easier. They’re also a whole lot cheaper now than when I purchased them, currently coming in at $62.66.

Luggage Scale: Without fail, I tend to both overpack for a trip and shop once I arrive. This means I’m always checking one bag, despite the ridiculous fees. To keep myself on the safe side of 50 pounds, I rely 100% on a portable digital luggage scale. These things retail for around $13 and have routinely saved me on excess fees and helped control my overpacking and shopping urges.

Wine Diapers / Wine Skins: Being a wine blogger, I can’t seem to travel anywhere without a bottle of wine, and I also tend to buy wine where ever I end up. This means that I not only need to pack the 750 ml of liquid in my checked luggage, but I need to keep it from breaking and turning a white designer sweater pink en route. I’ve been testing out the Wine Diaper, which works well and has the benefit of being reusable, but I rather prefer the Wine Skin.

Dell Mini: I ordered the Dell Mini 10v rather cheap (<$200) from the Dell Outlet. Not only that, I was able to score a pink one, which I quickly outfitted with a pink mouse and pink USB stick. I purposely bought a lower-end Mini, the 10v, which has the VGA port. Why? Because when I present at conferences, I need it to be as easy as possible with a low-barrier for whomever is setting me up / letting me use the equipment. The Mini 10 (no V) includes fancy items such as GPS and an internal TV tuner. I loaded up the Mini 10v with Windows 7, Word and Powerpoint, Thunderbird, Acrobat, and Firefox. With just that amount, it’s perfect for presentations, email, and surfing. However, a few weeks ago I had to write an RFP while traveling. Don’t buy a 10-inch netbook for your primary machine if you need to write anything more intensive than a basic blog post. At that point, the 10-inch screen is a hindrance. But for travel and presentations, the machine is a dream.

Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go: To complement the Mini 10V, I also picked up the Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go stick. After doing some price comparisons, it seemed the best option. Most of the places I go actually have wireless. However, occasionally the broadband or wireless in a hotel will be ridiculously expensive or just a poor connection. Sometimes I even find myself at conferences where I don’t have wireless available in the sessions rooms. Remarkable, but true. To combat this sometimes-but-not-always problem, I went with the pay-as-you-go option. I tried it out for the first time last week in Key West and it worked beautifully. I was able to do everything from surf the Web to uploading files. I bought a $20 card, which got me 250 MB (the equivalent of 2 hrs browsing, 1 hour web video, or 25,000 emails).  It was a leisure trip, so I wasn’t online much, but I still have about 150 MB left. The catch is that your data allowance expires anywhere from 10-30 days after purchase, depending on how much you buy. But if you buy strategically (in my case, before every trip), it shouldn’t be an issue. The initial hardware purchase will set you back $99 and there is a lot of freedom in being able to get online anywhere, anytime.

Motorola Droid: I realize I just got my hands on this in November, but it’s quickly become a huge part of my life. Now that I have service everywhere I go (unlike my last two years with AT&T), I am constantly tweeting, texting and emailing. I realize that might not be a good thing, but my ability to be connected has greatly increased. The keyboard makes everything easy for me and I have no problem finding free apps I like and need from the Android Marketplace. I can’t say that the Droid has changed the way I communicate. But it enhances my communications and allows me to communicate in ways I couldn’t with my iPhone.

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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 her day job.