Monday, May 24, 2010

Sound ID 510 Bluetooth Headset: Now Hear That!

According to the folks at Sound ID, you are what you hear. That's why the new Sound ID 510 Bluetooth headset comes with something no other wireless headset to date has offered: Its own personalized iPhone app.

The new app, called EarPrint, allows you to fine tune the incoming audio of the headset to your own ear. Depending on how you set the app, you can have the earpiece dull loud sounds or increase the volume of soft ones.

The headset will be available at AT&T stores and the Sound ID website on June 6. So what else does it offer? Read my first look at PC World.

Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sprint HTC Evo 4G: A Formidable Android Powerhouse

If you get your hands on the new HTC Evo 4G cell phone for Sprint and you're not impressed with its 4.3-inch display, solid feel and sleek lines, just remove the battery cover. The engineering inside is just as elegant as it is outside. Even its battery is color-matched to its innards.

At a splashy press event in New York Wednesday, Sprint introduced the HTC Evo 4G, the first 4G cell phone to come to market in the U.S. The unit ($199.99 after a $100 rebate and with a two-year service agreement) arrives at Sprint stores on June 4. According to Sprint representatives, 4G data service is up to ten times faster than today's 3G networks, like the one used by the Apple iPhone 3G S.

One thing that didn't arrive in New York with the May 12 launch event, however, was the 4G network. While Sprint's 4G service is already available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Seattle and a handful of other cities, New York is listed as "soon." However a temporary 4G cell was set up near the event site so that the 4G features of the phone could be demonstrated to the press.

Sprint officials said that since they knew that 4G coverage would be spotty for some time, the goal in creating the Evo 4G was to create the best possible 3G phone--with 4G capabilities. Also, since the 4G circuitry is rather power hungry, most users would not want to leave the 4G capability on all the time, the Sprint officials said.

"If you're going to build a great product for 4G, you better have a large display," said David Owens, vice president of consumer marketing for Sprint in a meeting before the press event. "This will impact gaming, as you will see."

Indeed, the bright, 4.3-inch display is stunning. Combined with the unit's one-gigahertz processor, high-quality YouTube videos run smoothly and without audio problems. While the HTC Evo 4G isn't the first cell phone with a front-facing webcam (the Pharos Traveler 137introduced in 2009, is one example), the combination of the 1.3-megapixel webcam with an 8-megapixel, back-mounted digital camera makes the HTC Evo 4G a rather formidable communications and image-recording tool for both casual and professional use.

"I see more utility in this than I see in a netbook," said Owens, who also noted that the phone can used as mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for other devices.

Included among the preloaded Android applications is Google Goggles, an interesting utility that makes good use of the phone's camera and Google's archive of images. Point the camera at an object or a photo and the software will try to figure out what it is. During the press event, the phone successfully recognized a photo of the Guggenheim Museum (see video).

Also preloaded on the HTC Evo 4G is Qik, a service which lets you stream live videos from your phone. However if you enable an upgrade to the software, you can use Qik to engage in live video chats with other mobile devices or with desktop computers. An attempt to demonstrate the utility on stage at the press event failed quietly (see video), but the Qik app worked perfectly when shown off at a demonstration table afterward.

At a price just under $200 and with data plans that are significantly cheaper than those of other major carriers, the HTC Evo 4G may quickly evolve into a true competitor to other top-shelf cell phones like iPhone 3G S, Google Nexus, and Motorola Droid. Only time, and the speed of the growth of Sprint's 4G network, will tell.

Image courtesy of Sprint
Text and videos Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kodak CMO: We're Ready to "Play"

It's not your grandfather's Kodak anymore and Kodak aims to keep it that way, declared its chief marketing officer Tuesday.

"I want to make us look cool," said CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett in a frank and often funny keynote address at the Streaming Media East conference in New York Tuesday. 

Hayzlett readily admitted that Kodak had a penchant for saddling interesting products with dull names. For example, while Kodak's Zi8 digital video camera had been well received in the market, he agreed with Boston Globe technology columnist Hiawatha Bray, who lauded the camera but said the name was "dreadful."

Prompted by the column, Kodak ran a contest to name its next video product, which turned out to be the PlaySport, a waterproof digital video camera unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January. He said it took a while to decide on the name, but he told his colleagues at Kodak, "We're not about to call this cool camera the 'ZX3.' "

He said that moving forward, all of Kodak's new digital video cameras will carry the "Play" moniker as the first part of its name.

He said Kodak has gone through great pains to freshen the way it presents itself on the Web and at trade shows. Pointing to an image of Kodak's old Web site on a large screen, Hayzlett said it "looks like a yard sale," especially when compared to the new site, which makes good use of screen-filling images and videos from current events. 

Instead of carting truckloads of products from trade show to trade show, Kodak now uses interactive displays to get its point across and stages televised panel discussions to engage the public at the show and on the Web. "We cut 75 per cent out of our trade show budget by doing it this way," said Hayzlett.

He also noted that Kodak now responds to consumer demand much faster than it once did.

"The old Kodak would have taken five years to bring the Zi8 to market," he said. "We did it in five months."

So where is the future for Kodak? Apparently in the business-to-business market. Hayzlett said Kodak now does 60 to 70 per cent of its sales with businesses. 

He noted that the company that once did $15 billion a year in film sales might do just $200 million this year. When he asked audience members to raise their hands if they had purchased a roll of film in the last two years, only a few hands went up.

"Thanks, both of you," he said with a grin. "You made our year."

Text, video and image Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Can The Kin Two Do HD Video? See For Yourself

 While none of the folks at the iPhone division of Apple will be losing sleep over the arrival of the new Kin One and Kin Two social networking cell phones from Microsoft, the phones do offer some useful features, including a nifty interface and quality digital cameras which double as camcorders.

  A key feature distinguishing the Kin One ($50 after rebate) from the Kin Two ($100 after rebate), is that the Kin Two (shown above) can record high-definition videos. So how well does it do HD? Compare these videos and judge for yourself.

  All were taken around New York City on May 4 in the hours after Microsoft and Verizon Wireless held a midtown press event to introduce the new phones, which will hit Verizon Wireless stores May 13.

Times Square in standard definition

Times Square in high definition.

Grand Central Station in standard definition.

Grand Central Station in high definition.

Photo courtesy of Microsoft and Verizon Wireless
Videos and text Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features