June Newsbits

By Naomi Graychase

June 27, 2008

Energizer's new AAAA battery powers tiny Bluetooth and other devices; iPhone and iPod touch users may soon have access to a version of the Nike+ Kit; Traffic.com2GO delivers real-time traffic information to your mobile device; Devicescape releases upgrade; Proxim ships new carrier-class solution; Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerry Bold coming soon; and more.

It was bound to happen eventually. As gizmos and gadgets get tinier and tinier, it was inevitable that the batteries that power them shrink as well. Enter the quadruple A battery from Energizer.

Earlier this month, Energizer launched a campaign to increase awareness of and availability for the AAAA--aka "Quad A"--alkaline battery is designed for use in small consumer electronics, such as flash audio players, Bluetooth headsets, laser pointers, and LED penlights, remote controls, and home medical devices, including glucose meters and blood pressure monitors.footer_keep_going.jpg

According to a June 10th press release, "Energizer has been actively partnering with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies to help them design around the AAAA battery. Recently, GN, the world leader in innovative headset solutions, launched the world’s first AAAA battery-powered Bluetooth headset. Developed in conjunction with Energizer, the Jabra BT2040 is powered by a single AAAA battery that never needs to be plugged in to charge. Additionally, the Energizer AAAA is used to power the UEI Zapper--a universal remote control."

 The diminutive AAAA is 42.5 mm long and 8.3 mm in diameter and weighs approximately 6.5 grams. (That's 1.67"x .33" and .23 ounces to non-metric Americans--in other words, "very small.") Compared to AAA batteries, the Quad A is 43 percent ligher, 40 percent smaller in volume, and 20 percent thinner. 

If you've got a device that requires the AAAA, you can stock up at your local Walgreen’s, Target, or Best Buy. The list price is $1.75 per two-pack.

**

iPhoneGuide.com and other bloggers are speculating that iPhone and iPod touch users may soon be able to take advantage  of the Nike+ Sport Kit monitor ($29), which, thanks to the release of the iPhone SDK, may soon become available for the iPhone and iPod touch.

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Consisting of an accelerometer-based pedometer/sensor, which you attach to your sneaker, and wireless receiver that plugs into your iPod, the kit monitors distance, time, pace, and calories burned. The data is displayed on your iPod's screen and also delivered real-time audibly through your headphones.

Whereas current Nike+ users must dock their iPods to upload workout data to their computer, the iPhone/iPod touch version of the kit may take advantage of Wi-Fi to seamlessly update training logs wirelessly, on the fly.

The original version of this accessory was the result of a partnership between Nike and Phillips that ended almost as quickly as it began. The Nike Phillips MP3 Run was a round, palm-sized MP3 player released in 2005 that featured a lipstick-sized device that attached to one's sneaker and sent data wirelessly back to a built-in receiver. It's list price was $300, users complained it was bulky and confusing, and it was quickly discontinued, but Nike held on to the technology and made significant improvements, it would seem, to the form factor and features--not to mention the price point.

For more on the iPod version--and potential iPhone/iPod touch versions, click here.

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PDAStreet reports that Traffic.com2GO is now available for 51 U.S. cities. The application delivers a service ($2.99/month) that delivers real-time traffic updates, including congestion, travel times, construction, and other incidents on U.S. city area roadways to Java-enabled handsets. It also provides JamCast audio traffic news reports, automatic information refresh, and a user history that maintains lists of recently viewed roads. Congestion measurements are intended to help users easily understand roadway traffic severity levels with a color spectrum and number scale from 1-10. You can learn more about the service here.

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Devicescape Software today announced an upgrade to its Devicescape Agent. Aimed at OEMs looking to bring Wi-Fi-enabled consumer electronics, such as handsets, cameras, and TVs, and/or industrial and enterprise equipment to market, Devicescape Agent 2.1 is an embedded software package that provides security for Wi-Fi-enabled devices and seeks to ease the interoperability and management of Wi-Fi-enabled devices in home, office, and industrial networks.

The previous version of Devicescape Agent has been deployed in a variety of devices, including media players, gaming consoles, printers, LCD projectors, scanners, smartphones—even automobiles. It has been licensed by more than 80 device manufacturers including Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Fujitsu, HP, and RIM and, according to Devicescape, is shipping in more than 100 different devices for an installed base of millions of units. 

Version 2.1 includes a total of 41 enhancements over the previous release (DSA 2.0.1), including support for WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Set Up), Cisco CCX v5, and Funk CCX OID, as well as an improved Windows Reference GUI for Cisco CCX, and power management support for Windows Mobile.

Devicescape Agent comes with pre-validated support for the latest client Wi-Fi chipsets from Atheros, Broadcom, Marvell, and Intel and is available now.

For more on Devicescape, read "DeviceScape Targets Security," "Devicescape Supports Macintosh," and "Access for All Wi-Fi Devices."

June 24, 2008

Last week, Proxim Wireless announced a new family of carrier-class point-to-point radios, the Lynx.G5. Aimed at carriers, utilities, and enterprises, the Lynx.G5 products offer clients the choice of utilizing any frequency in the 2.4 GHz or 5.15-5.95 GHz spectrum. This flexibility enables high-performance voice and data backhaul.

The Proxim Lynx.G5 also offers support for both T1/E1 interfaces and Ethernet, RSA-certified AES encryption, IP Packet Filtering and QOS on every Ethernet IP packet, SNMP, CLI, and Web interfaces for flexible remote management, and built-in silence detection and redundant data compression for increased data capacity.

“Proxim’s end-to-end wireless broadband portfolio provides solutions for service providers, governments, and enterprise organizations—from high-capacity backhaul to indoor and outdoor access and everything in between,” said Pankaj Manglik, CEO of Proxim Wireless in a press release Tuesday. “With the addition of the Lynx.G5 product family, we are once again expanding our portfolio and offering the industry’s most advanced Point-to-Point product with T1/E1, Ethernet, AES security and multiple frequency support in a single box.”

The Lynx.G5 products are currently shipping. More information is available at the Proxim Web site.

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The newest Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone from RIM, the BlackBerry Bold (right), is set to be released by carriers at bold_device.jpgsome point this summer. RIM is being tight-lipped about specific release dates, but now that it's officially summer, the "this summer" promise means it's coming soon. More details about the fast (624MHz), elegant, powerful new BlackBerry with what is supposed to be the clearest display yet, visit www.blackberrybold.com.

June 23, 2008

One year after the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) first introduced 802.11n draft 2.0 certification, the WFA reports that almost half of all Wi-Fi chipsets sold in 2008 are expected to adhere to the new (draft) standard—twice the number shipped last year. ABI Research forecasts that by 2013, more than 90 percent of Wi-Fi products will support 802.11n.

To date, the Wi-Fi Alliance says it has put the “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED” seal of approval, which indicates validated product interoperability, on 325 products, including traditional PC networking gear and consumer electronics, such as TVs, media servers, and gaming devices. According to the WFA, nearly half of the certified products also support Wi-Fi Protected Setup, which eases the process of configuring and protecting a WLAN for home users.

More than 180 enterprise-grade laptops, adapter cards, and networking solutions that include 802.11n draft 2.0 have also been Wi-Fi CERTIFIED.

"Across the board, and with a range of consumer and enterprise devices, we are seeing a real hunger for all things 802.11n draft 2.0," said Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance in a press release today. "The standard has redefined the wireless experience, enabling streaming video, gaming, and other media throughout the home, while enabling advanced applications in enterprise networks. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED delivers a great user experience with a wide range of Wi-Fi products."

To achieve the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED seal of approval, 802.11n draft 2.0 products have been tested for interoperability across vendors, adherence to WPA2 security protocols, and backward compatibility with more than 4,500 Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 802.11a/b/g products. The certification program also includes WMM (Wi-Fi Multimedia) QoS, which helps to deliver the best user experience with applications such as voice, video, and gaming.

Products based on the IEEE 802.11n draft 2.0 deliver up to five times the throughput and up to twice the range of those based on previous standards, which makes them well-suited to content-rich applications, such as VoIP and streaming video.

A list of all Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 802.11n draft 2.0 products and free white papers on 802.11n technology are available at www.wi-fi.org.

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D-Link today announced the newest product in its award-winning RangeBooster N line of 802.11n-draft Wi-Fi solutions. The DIR-628 ($119.99) aimed at home users is optimized for the tasks the newest generation of home networks are being used for: HD video streaming, file sharing, VoIP calls, gaming, and, of course, basic Web access.

"With its switchable 802.11n dual-band technology, this new 11n router is a powerful solution for building out a digital home capable of driving a wide range of applications," said A.J. Wang, Chief Technology Officer, D-Link in a press release today. "It offers superb range and performance for anyone seeking to enhance network access at an extremely affordable price."

By incorporating a switchable dual-band architecture, D-Link has made it possible for users to use the 2.4GHz band for basic tasks, such as checking e-mail, and to switch to the less crowded 5GHz band for more bandwidth-intensive applications, such as streaming HD movies or playing World of Warcraft. The DIR-628 also includes D-Link's Quality of Service (QoS) engine that prioritizes time-sensitive network traffic to enable smooth VoIP phone calls and responsive gaming.

The router supports WPA and WPA2 standards to ensure the best possible encryption, regardless of client devices. In addition, it utilizes dual-active firewalls (SPI and NAT) to help prevent potential attacks from across the Internet.

The DIR-628 ships with the D-Link Quick Router Setup Wizard, which is designed to be user-friendly for home consumers. It is backward compatible with 802.11g and 11b, devices including game consoles and digital media players.

The D-Link DIR-628 is shipping now and can be found at retail stores, including Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry's Electronics, as well as at online retailers.

June 19, 2008

More details have been released about the business arrangement with investors that will attempt to keep Philadelphia's Wi-Fi network afloat. In a press release issued Wednesday, Network Acquisition Company, LLC (NAC), the company that acquired the former EarthLink Wi-Fi network, provided additional information on the status of the network and business opportunities moving forward.

The transaction closed on Monday, June 16, 2008; terms of the transaction were not disclosed. NAC founders include Derek Pew, Mark Rupp, and Richard Rasansky. NAC is a private company and does not have any affiliation with Wireless Philadelphia or the City of Philadelphia.

The release says that  NAC will initially focus on evaluating and improving the Tropos-based Wi-Fi network by tuning its performance for outdoor access, expanding coverage areas, and assessing the future build-out of the network's current footprint.

Scott Green, a PR rep for Tropos said in an e-mail, "NAC’s vision is to offer both wired and unwired services to enterprises for a fee in addition to allowing free Internet access for users in the community. Unlike EarthLink’s business model that focused on providing in-home (consumer services), NAC will focus on offering both wireless and wire line services to businesses, hospitals, universities, and others, and may use advertising to help offset the cost of its free Wi-Fi service."

The NAC press release says it will proceed by first "refining and rebuilding the network architecture to be consistent with the new business model that will use Wi-Fi to extend the reach of wired networks rather than competing with them. It is expected that this initial phase will take several months to complete."

 Local non-profit organizations including Wireless Philadelphia and Knight Foundation will continue to use the network to deliver digital inclusion services to locals.

"The investment in wireless is good for Philadelphia's economy and our future," said Tom Knox, an investor, in Wednesday's press release. 

"I am delighted to be joining such a strong team of Philadelphia investors and managers," said Dave Hanna, Chairman of Hanna Ventures and one of the investors in NAC. "The creation of this new business entity represents a significant step in the evolution of metro Wi-Fi and we believe will result in significant benefits to the community and local economy."

For more details, read the full release here. For more on the transition, read "Philly's Wi-Fi Receives Stay of Execution."

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Actiontec Electronics introduced two new products at NXTcomm08 this week. The GT724WGR and GT724R are DSL Gateways "designed to improve the bottom line of Tier 2 and Tier 3 service providers through streamlined modem pre-provisioning, reduced customer support demands, and increased revenue with up-sell and cross-sell opportunities."

The GT724WGR DSL Gateway combines a full-rate ADSL/ADSL2+ modem, four-port Ethernet switch, and 802.11g Wi-Fi router into one device.

The GT724R DSL Gateway features a full-rate ADSL/ADSL2+ modem and a four-port switch, but no built-in Wi-Fi.

Both provide a fully customizable GUI that enables service providers to incorporate their logo, other branding, and other useful information, including the ability to add a link to their online stores, which can potentially increase revenue through cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. 

June 16, 2008

Boingo announced today that now through June 26th, travelers passing through Terminal 2 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport charge their laptops or other devices, print color documents, or get online using the terminals provided at the Boingo Kiosk--all for free. Boingo will also be handing out cards that provide one free hour of Boingo hotspot access in the airport.

Boingo operates a large, global network of hotspots including those at 475+ airports, 17,000+ hotels, and more than 70,000 cafes, shops, and other locations.

June 11th, 2008

Rogers Wireless of Canada recently became the first carrier in North America to launch the Wi-Fi-enabled Nokia N95 uber-smartphone.

Starting in May, the N95 was available with a three-year contract and a subscription to Rogers Vision Unlimited On-Device Mobile Browsing Plan for about half the cost of the same edition of this smartphone as it is available in the U.S. where it is unlocked and therefore not subsidized by a carrier.

The N95 sports a 2.8-inch, at 240 x 320 pixel(QVGA) display, in addition to a 5-megapixel camera with 20x zoom and support for 30 frames per second video capture, Wi-Fi, and A-GPS. Using TeleNav in conjunction with the integrated GPS, users can get where they are going using turn-by-turn directionsand on-screen maps. For more information, click here.

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Sling Media has updated the SlingPlayer Mobile software clients for the Symbian OS (to version 1.1) and Windows Mobile (to version 1.6). The upgrades, which are free to current users, adds support for more set-top boxes and smartphones, including the Nokia N95 8GB in the Symbian S60 category, and improves performance.

With SlingPlayer Mobile installed on a smartphone, those with a Slingbox device attached to their television will be able view 'placeshifted' cable, satellite, or digital video recorder (DVR) content remotely anywhere in the world through a wireless broadband--3G cellular or Wi-Fi--Internet connection on their smartphone.

In the case of a DVR, for example, users can not only watch recorded shows, but pause and rewind live TV or queue new recordings from their smartphone as well.

Sling Media recommends users have an all-you-can-eat data plan for their smartphone. That's important to keep costs down for streaming content over a 3G cellular-wireless connection.

The SlingPlayer Mobile client is also availabe for the Palm OS and is in the process of being brought to the BlackBerry.

After a 30-day trial, SlingPlayer Mobile costs users a one time fee of $30.

This newsbit courtesy of PDAStreet.com.

June 10, 2008

ZyXEL, a worldwide supplier of broadband networking and Internet connectivity/routing products based in Anaheim, CA, announced today that it will be demoing a broadband digital home network multimedia solution with a wireless component at NXTComm next week in Las Vegas.

ZyXEL will offer live demonstrations of its central office Multi-Service Access Node (MSAN) and remote VDSL2 IP DSLAMs, which will provide high-speed broadband connection to two different "digital homes."

The first simulated home demo will include two rooms, a living room and a home office. A high-speed ADSL2+ connection streaming Internet, IPTV, and telephone service will be powered by ZyXEL's HomePlug AV Powerline solution. The living room will feature an ADSL2/2+ gateway with HomePlug AV Powerline and Wi-Fi, ZyXEL's DMA1100P, the HomePlug AV digital media player for streaming HD content, and the V750W SIP camera. The home office will house the central network storage device (NSA220) and business VoIP phone (V500).

In a press release today, ZyXEL suggested that “IPTV and WiMAX are guaranteed to be hot topics at NXTcomm.”

ZyXEL's second sample home demo will be powered by a VDSL2 connection streaming HD IPTV over a set-top box to a wide screen TV. ZyXEL will also show its WiMAX product line including the 802.16e CPE that has an advanced router/firewall with SIP-based VoIP built-in for an all-in-one solution.

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Burton Group's Catalyst Conference North America 2008 is scheduled for June 23-27 in San Diego, CA. Wi-Fi and WiMAX will top the agenda.

Topics addressed at the conference will include: mobile device management; security; application development; fixed mobile convergence; and next generation wireless infrastructures.

More information is available at the conference Web site.

**

SanDisk Corporation, a leading seller of MP3 players in the United States, announced today that its Sansa audio/video business unit has acquired MusicGremlin, a privately-held technology company that develops digital content distribution technologies.

“MusicGremlin’s digital distribution platform and capabilities will provide SanDisk with adaptive and innovative technology that will play a key role in the development of future Sansa products for consumers,” said Daniel Schreiber, General Manager and Senior Vice President for SanDisk’s Sansa audio/video business unit in a press release today.

Robert Khedouri, co-CEO and co-founder of MusicGremlin, will join the Sansa team as vice president of services, also said in the release:

“SanDisk and MusicGremlin share a core passion for granting consumers easy access to digital content. We’re very pleased that MusicGremlin technologies will soon contribute to a new generation of Sansa products and services. We look forward to joining SanDisk in realizing our vision for the future of distributed media.”

To read Wi-FiPlanet’s review of the MusicGremlin, click here.

For more on SanDisk, read "SanDisk Sansa Connect," "SanDisk 256MB + Wi-Fi SD I/O Wireless LAN Card," and "SanDisk, Yahoo Team Up on Wi-Fi MP3 Player."

June 6, 2008

Reuters reported yesterday that a woman who lost her camera bag and equipment while on vacation in Florida was able to recover the stolen items when the thieves unwittingly sent her her stored photos--along with images of themselves cavorting with her camera.

According to the Reuters report, the victim left her bag behind in a restaurant. Some sticky-fingered employees snatched it and began snapping photos of themselves. Little did they know that the pilfered Canon digicam was equipped with an Eye-Fi Share, a 2GB SD card that uses Wi-Fi to automatically upload images to the user’s designated PC or to an online Web-based photo sharing service.

The ill-fated thieves had the misfortune to pass within range of an open Wi-Fi network with factory-installed settings that matched that of the camera’s rightful owner, so the Eye-Fi transferred the photos to her home computer, alerting her to the identity and location of the camera-snatchers, who Reuters reports were subsequently fired.

A new Eye-Fi card with geotagging was announced last month. Wi-FiPlanet has been trying to secure a review unit of both the Eye-Fi Share (since last October) and the new Eye-Fi Explore (since early May) to no avail. While we can’t recommend the card without reviewing it, for the user who recovered her cameras and photos, the $99 card was apparently well worth the investment.

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ABI Research reported this week that more than half of broadband users in the United States today have some form of home network. ABI’s survey showed that home network growth  comes as service providers “increasingly push more advanced gateways with embedded Wi-Fi, and consumers look to extend their broadband connections beyond the original single connection in the home office.”

Only one-third of broadband subscribers had home networks in 2006.

"The home network is no longer an early adopter technology, as increasing numbers of consumers look to laptops and PCs, as well as [to] newer devices, such as gaming consoles and even Wi-Fi-enabled mobile handsets," said ABI research director Mike Wolf in a press release Monday. "Our research shows that more than one quarter of home network owners say they have a game console on their home network, while another 8% say they have connected their mobile phone."

The survey also showed that new areas of focus, such as media adapters and network attached storage are mixed, as consumers are not as comfortable with these new product categories.

According to Wolf, music and video are the biggest priorities for home WLANs.

“Fifteen percent of home network owners today are streaming music over the network and another one in ten is streaming video," said Wolf. "These are early indicators that there will be consumer interest in these next-generation applications around the network. The key over time will be to create easy-to-use products that integrate seamlessly with the living room, an area of the home that carries with it different expectations regarding usability and end-user experiences. Ultimately, we expect more integration with existing consumer electronics products as well as a greater role for the service provider in managing networked media applications."

For more on the study, visit ABI’s Web site.

**

JetBlue Airways announced on Wednesday it is expanding its in-flight Wi-Fi service to include a “search and discover option” from Amazon.com, as well as an e-mail and messaging platform open to both Microsoft Exchange corporate e-mail accounts and leading Web mail providers such as Gmail, AOL Mail, Hotmail, and Windows Live Mail. All of the access is provided free of charge.

Currently, JetBlue has one Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft, an A320 dubbed “BetaBlue,” which made its maiden voyage in December 2007. Customers traveling onboard BetaBlue can use their Wi-Fi enabled devices to transfer messages using free services from Yahoo! and RIM. The newly expanded services will be provided over LiveTV's basic connectivity network platform called, “Kiteline.”

In addition to its in-flight Wi-Fi on BetaBlue, JetBlue also offers customers free high-speed wireless Internet access in Terminal 6 at New York City's JFK International Airport, as well as at JetBlue’s Long Beach, California terminal.

Other in-flight multimedia options for JetBlue customers include 36 channels of free live, DIRECTV programming and a selection of FOX InFlight movies on a pay-for basis available on all flights. On JetBlue's EMBRAER 190 planes and on its upgraded aircraft in its A320 fleet, passengers can listen to more than 100 channels of free XM Satellite Radio, as well.

For more in in-flight Wi-Fi, read “2008: The Year of In-Flight Wi-Fi?, " In-Flight, Online,"and " In-Flight Wi-Fi: On and Off."

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet. She is old enough to have been covering technology since before the World Wide Web Consortium was formed, but young enough to have enjoyed playing Frogger on her Atari 2600 as a kid.



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