While Microsoft’s first generation Zune hardly put up a fight against Apple’s iPod juggernaut the soon to be released Zune 2 seems to have a much better chance of gaining a foothold in the market. Last 100 has posted their take on the top 5 things the new Zune got right - we agree with them for the most part, although they do seem to underscore the challenge Microsoft faces with the iPod Touch, iPhone, and the rest of the iPhone line.
The new flash based Zunes do help widen their appeal, but Apple has anDAP available in $50 price increments from $79 all the way up to $400 - something to fit everyone’s budget and needs. Apple has also beat Microsoft to the punch on mobile song purchase, but the new improvements to the Zune store shows that Microsoft is gaining momentum to catch them on features.
All in all, the Zune 2 has a chance with it’s bevy of new features. With the goal of helping the brand Microsoft is also smartly planning to release a firmware update for the 1st generation Zune that will include all of the new features. Now might be a good time to pick up a Zune on the cheap if you don’t mind slightly older hardware but are interested in the new store or social networking features.
Read More | Last 100
One of Toshiba’s latest prototypes is a portable media player that runs on a nearly 100% methanol fuel cell. Filled by the side face of the console, it features an indicator that shows the fuel level. Vapor that is created as a byproduct simply evaporates. The OMFC can run for about 10 hours with 1 seg playback. After debuting the PMP at this year’s CEATEC 2007, Toshiba says it will be available commercially sometime next year and is working on a fuel cartridge and a notebook equipped with a cell as well.
Read More | Tech On
AT&T has announced that their new Tilt is to be released today. Designed by HTC, it features a 2.8-inch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, TeleNav GPS, is Bluetooth capable, and has a 3-megapixel cam with auto-focus. It will hold up to 32GB of micro SD storage and includes BlackBerry Connect v4.0 software for e-mail, contacts, and memo pad, and Windows Mobile for Internet connection at a data speed of 3G. At an temporoary introductory price of $299.99 with a two year commitment, you can twist with the Tilt to your heart’s content. Check with AT&T if you want to get in on the action ASAP. We will keep an eye out to see how its sales will affect its fellow smartphones.
Read More | Slashphone
Practically lost in the Apple shuffle (no pun intended) is the new Palm Centro smartphone. With a 320 x 320 pixel touchscreen, the OS 5.4.9 supports 16-bit color in up to 65K shades and has a memory of 64MB. It features a QWERTY keyboard, IM, a dual-band CDMA2000 EvDO tuner, a 1.3 megapixel cam with 2x digital zoom, and a lithium-ion battery that allows 3.5 hours of talk and up to 300 of standby time. Available in onyx or ruby, it is Bluetooth capable and can handle micro SD cards for expansion. The Centro has plenty of other enticing features and can be yours with a subscription to Sprint service for $99.00.
Read More | Palm
As promised Apple and Starbucks started their rollout of the Starbucks WiFi Music Store in select cities. Gear Live is lucky enough to be in Seattle, the first city to get the special version of the iTunes Music Store in our Starbucks. The service allows laptops, iPhones, and the iPod Touch users to connect for free to the iTunes store while sipping lattes without having to pay for for a T-Mobile Hotspot account. Click through for our full impressions on Apple’s new partnership with the coffee mega-store Starbucks.
In a previous post, Gear Live discovered that the new iTunes WiFi Music Store has a few bugs here and there. The bug I encountered prevents some users from authenticating easily to purchase tracks. With a little sleuth work I managed to track down the problem: the password fields in the new iPhone software version 1.1.1 don’t work well with capitol letters in passwords. Click through for a full run down of the problem, and how to fix it if it affects you.
Apple has announced that its new update will kill unlocked iPhones. Last week, Steve Jobs cried foul as he said that the warranty would be voided, which we are pretty sure most hackers, such as George Hotz, knew about when they performed the operation. Of course, the obvious solution here is to skip the update, but then those users will not get WiFi Tunes. Perhaps Apple should think of this as a quiet demonstration of folks who want to save a bit of cash rather than a direct attack on AT&T. Think amnesty, Apple.
Read More | Yahoo Tech
Computerworld just published its in-depth usability test of the Apple iPhone, the HTC Touch running Windows Mobile 6 Professional, and the Nokia N95 running the Symbian operating system. The tests involved a number of participants who had never used any of the three devices, and had measurable results (i.e. the time it took to accomplish various actions). Apple’s famed information architecture and interface design skills seem to have paid off as the iPhone bested it competitors by a factor of two in some of the tests.
The study praises the iPhones information architecture and consistent user experience as a strong benefit to any user be it someone new to the iPhone or a power user. At Gear Live we have noticed several inconsistencies in the user interface, for instance, the new message button being in different locations in the mail and SMS clients for instance. We do however agree with the general consensus of the study that overall the user experience with the iPhone is far more unified that it’s competitors.
Things were not entirely positive for Apple - some users found the lack of tactile feedback a little disorienting, however all users were able to finish each of the tasks with the iPhone. The also iPhone fell behind it’s competitors in the sheer count of features. The N95 managed to edge out the iPhone in this category with GPS, voice activation and the ability to record movies with it’s camera. Considering that the Nokia is $100-300 more expensive in the United States than the iPhone many users have elected to splurge for Apple’s $400 easy to use wonder device.
Read More | Computerworld
Micron Technology, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Spansion, STM, and TI have announced that they get together to standardize removable memory cards and the technology embedded in them. The chore will be in the hands of JEDEC Solid State Technology Association with the new specification to be called Universal Flash Storage (UFS.) The aim here is less access time for memories, higher speed for large files and reduction of power.
The company claims that while 90 minutes (4GB) takes 3 minutes today to access, UFS will take only a few seconds. Handhelds, digital cameras, and other consumer electronics will be able to handle the new technology which should be finalized in 2009.
Read More | Post-Bulletin
With all the attention given to Apple these days, we thought it was only fair that we give a few props to another creative company. Zune aficionados are probably already aware of the awesome video artwork on Zune Arts, but if you are not, then you missed out on some fine animation. The Association of Independent Commercial Producers liked their Zune “Monster” spot so much that they have included it in this year’s Art & Technique of the American Commercial Show. You can find dates and locations of showings on the AICP site.
Read More | Zune