Wi-Fi Product Watch, August 2009

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

August 27, 2009

Nimbuzz Android launches; Nokia to enter netbook space; Epson's new Wi-Fi-enabled printer coming this month; Verizon Wireless updates specs for 4G LTE 700MHz; radios you can swallow; Apple looks into exploding iPhones, iPods; smartphone app downloads to triple by 2014; and more.

Our sister site, EnterpriseVoIPPlanet reports that:

Just about a month ago, Netherlands-based IM/VoIP service provider Nimbuzz launched an upgrade of its popular Apple iPhone/iPod touch application. This week, the company unveiled its first Nimbuzz Mobile client application for the Android platform.

Nimbuzz's claim to fame is that it interconnects a wide variety of other discrete, non-interoperable IM/VoIP services—as well as providing VoIP services of its own over a variety of connection types. This lets users chat with and talk to friends on Skype, Google Talk, MSN/Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, MySpace, and other communities from a single interface and using a variety of devices—and without having to independently register for those services.

Moreover, the company and its application also embrace more local and more specialized communications networks, such as the German StudiVZ student community, Hyves in the Netherlands, and the popular Italian social networking service, Giovani. Click here for the full story.

August 24, 2009

InternetNews.com reports: Mobile phone giant Nokia is planning to join the netbook craze, adding its name a growing list of competitors with plans to debut its own lightweight, low-cost and low-power portable PC.

The Nokia Booklet 3G will mark the latest attempt by a newcomer to force its way into an already packed arena that continues to attract new entrants--a list of rivals that, if widespread rumors are to be believe, may soon include Apple.

Even if Apple doesn't ride the success of its iPhone into the lightweight, low-power portable PC space, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) will be facing off against a slew of big names with extensive notebook experience--like Dell, HP, Asus, Acer and Lenovo.

For the time being, Nokia is playing its cards close to its chest, releasing only a few details of its upcoming netbook.

Read the full story here.

**

Epson is releasing its newest Wi-Fi-enabled printer, the Epson Artisan 810 All-in-One Printer this month. New features include a front USB port from which you can charge cell phones, GPS devices, or MP3 players. iPhone users can now print photos and documents wirelessly directly from their iPhones, as well.

Read our review of the 810's predecessor, the Artisan 800, here. Stay tuned for a review of the Artisan 810 next month.

August 21, 2009

Verizon Wireless today released updated specifications for wireless devices that will run on the nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network it is building on the Upper 700 MHz C-Block spectrum. 

The network access requirements contain updates, clarifications, and additions to guide developers.

The company expects to commercially launch its LTE 4G network in up to 30 markets in 2010, covering close to 100 million people, with full nationwide coverage in planned by 2013, an aggressive timetable.

Developers can access the Verizon Wireless 700 MHz LTE Specification updates from the open development Web site at www.verizonwireless-opendevelopment.com. Developers can view which sections of the specifications have been updated by checking the Revision History. 

Related articles:

August 20, 2009

Wireless patient monitoring devices are expected to show a 77 percent compound annual growth rate resulting in global revenue of almost $950 million by 2014, according to a study from ABI Research.

Roy Mark writing for eWeek reports that as the market grows, the devices shrink--even to the point of pills containing a digestible radio that will confirm when medication has been taken.

"Doctors and hospitals are looking for ways to save money, and wireless patient monitoring has a huge potential to do that," ABI Research Vice President Stan Schatt, said in a statement. "It’s a lot more economical to monitor patients remotely at home than to have them come in personally for checkups that consume time and resources."

Related articles:

**

PCMag.com reviewed the new Facebook for iPhone (3.0). In a nutshell: it's very good. "Only a few nagging issues, like the lack of push notifications and not being able to watch non-YouTube videos, keep it from giving you the full desktop Facebook experience in a mobile app. While this version is not yet available in the App Store, it has been submitted to Apple and will almost certainly appear soon," writes Sean Ludwig.

**

Ars Technica reports that Apple is looking into reports of exploding iPhones and iPods.

"Recent press reports concerning 'exploding' iPhones and iPods have the European Commission concerned, prompting the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers to ask Apple about the problem. Apple says it is investigating the reports, though no definitive answers are yet available," writes Chris Foresman.

"These are isolated incidents and... there is not a general problem," Apple said in a statement filed with the Commission. "For the cases which have been reported in the media, Apple [is] trying to get more information on the details of the incidents and will do tests as necessary to investigate the possible cause."

August 18, 2009

The new consumer phenomenon of smartphone app usage is expected to keep growing at a rapid clip, with downloads tripling over the next five years. But with that growth comes challenges for the mobile industry as competition heats up.

Downloads from all app stores will reach 6.67 billion applications by 2014, up from two billion this year, Vikrant Gandhi, analyst at market research firm Frost & Sullivan and author of "An Insight into the U.S. Smartphone Application Storefront Market," told InternetNews.com.

Right now, Apple's App Store, which blazed the trail for the cottage industry of smartphone apps, claims more than one billion downloads with 65,000 programs available.

It was followed by Google's Android Market, Research in Motion's BlackBerry App World, Palm's Pre Catalog and Microsoft's store, which is due later this year for Windows Mobile. For the rest of the story at InternetNews.com click here.

August 17, 2009

Charlie White writing for gadget blog Dvice says: "Finally, the iPhone doesn't have to have an inferiority complex because of the lack of immediate notification of Gmail messages. That's because GPush is now available on the Apple App Store for $0.99, letting you know immediately when you received an e-mail, rather than delivering you an e-mail at whatever interval you decided to pull it from the server."

White offers up a mini-review, which declares it "the best $0.99 we've ever spent on an iPhone app."

**

Dell has entered the smartphone market, but with a device that doesn't integrate Wi-Fi or support 3G...shall we file this under big-sigh or what-were-they-thinking or possibly when-will-they-learn?

We haven't actually seen it, of course, but reports out of China say the Android-based Mini 3i debuted in Beijing, signalling Dell’s official entry into the smartphone market.

eWeek has more details.

**

Zach Epstein writing at The BoyGenius Report has compiled a list of the ten best free photography apps for iPhone. Apps include: Pixel Perfect, PanoLab, Mill Colour, Flash for Free, and HDR for Free. Read the full annotated list here.

**

New seven-minute YouTube video out today demos BlackBerry Storm 2, expected to be released in September. No word about the Wi-Fi, though...

**

TomTom today announced that its iPhone app, first announced in June, is now available.

“With TomTom for iPhone, millions of iPhone users can now benefit from the same easy-to-use and intuitive interface, turn-by-turn spoken navigation and unique routing technology that our 30 million portable navigation device users rely on every day,” said Corinne Vigreux, Managing Director of TomTom in a press release. “As the world’s leading provider of navigation solutions and digital maps, TomTom is the most natural fit for an advanced navigation application on the iPhone.”

The TomTom app for iPhone 3G and 3GS users includes a continental map of Europe or map of UK & Ireland from Tele Atlas, and is available to download through www.tomtom.com/tomtom-app from £59.99GBP.

More details from TomTom here.

**

Sprint today announced the launch of its WiMAX (Sprint 4G) mobile broadband service in Portland, OR, Atlanta, GA, and Las Vegas, NV. 

Pricing and other details can be found in the Sprint press release here.

**

Netbooks are getting heavier and more expensive, it seems. If the original Eee PC shipped with a 7-in. screen, weighed a little over 2 lb., and sold for $400, can we really call laptops twice as heavy, nearly twice as large, and more than twice as expensive, "netbooks?"

"Today, most netbooks fall under Microsoft's definition of what a netbook is (and what therefore qualifies for its Windows 7 Starter build). They have screens that are 10.2 in. or smaller, 1GB of memory or less, and 250GB of hard drive storage.

"However, there are now devices out there that claim to fall under the netbook umbrella but boast 11-, 12- and even 13-in. screens, weigh upwards of 4 lb. and cost as much as $900," writes ComputerWorld's Brian Nadel.

Read Nadel's comparison of four of the latest and largest "netbooks," which includes testing of the Wi-Fi range for each here, to find out if bigger really is better. 

August 13, 2009

Microsoft has announced that its new ZuneHD is available for pre-order starting today. The portable digital media player will ship Sept. 15 in 16GB ($219.99) and 32GB ($289.99) capacities.

The first touch-screen Zune, the new version includes "powerful playback technology to give you a different way to experience media on the go," according to a Microsoft press release issued today.

The iPod touch competitor includes built-in Wi-Fi, an integrated HD radio receiver, HD video output capabilities, and a 3.3" touch screen.

More details from Microsoft here.

Related articles:

**

Lori Grunin, writing at CNET's gadget blog, Crave, finds the Wi-Fi in the new Samsung CL65 ultracompact camera unimpressive.

The 12.2MP digicam lists for $399.99 and comes with Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and DLNA support.

"The Wi-Fi implementation is pretty much the same as everyone else's lackluster attempts, and perhaps even more limited," writes Grunin. "It won't work through any access point that throws up a verification/terms-of-service screen. And it will automatically downsample images transferred via Wi-Fi to 2 megapixels from the camera's native 12 megapixels, which rules Wi-Fi out as a cable-free method to download photos to your system. On the other hand, it will support e-mailing and a 20-contact list, and will come with upload links to select sites including Facebook and YouTube."

We can't say we're surprised. While Wi-Fi in personal cameras has a great deal of potential, it would seem that none of the leaders in either consumer electronics or photography--or networking, for that matter--have applied themselves properly to the problem. Maybe next year...?

For more on Wi-Fi-enabled digital cameras, read:

**

Dude, there's an app for that: National Public Radio (NPR) reported today as part of a story on medical marijuana in California that a new iPhone app will enable clients to find the nearest dispensary.

August 10, 2009

The New York Times reported Sunday that USAA, a privately held bank and insurance company, plans to update its iPhone application this week to introduce a unique check deposit feature. It will allow customers to deposit a check by photographing both sides of the check with the iPhone’s camera.

“We’re essentially taking an image of the check, and once you hit the send button, that image is going into our deposit-taking system as any other check would,” said Wayne Peacock, a USAA executive vice president to the Times.

August 7, 2009

The HTC Touch Pro2 will be available in T-Mobile retail stores next week (8/12). The Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional device comes "in a mocha finish" and features a 3.6-inch color display that slides back and tilts up to reveal a full-QWERTY keyboard. It also features built-in GPS and integrated Wi-Fi, plus 3G.

August 6, 2009

Is the recession causing cafes to cut back on Wi-Fi use? Even as Barnes & Noble expands its Wi-Fi offerings (now totally free at all locations), smaller, independent coffee shops--at least in New York City--are trending toward limiting the long-term mooching that often goes on when users turn up with a couple of bucks and a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop.

The Wall Street Journal examines the trend here.

**

Gearlog has tracked down some great back-to-school deals for mobile teens and college kids--in fact some of the deals are so great, you may find yourself jumping on them even if all you've got to look forward to this fall is another day at the office.

Deals include an ASUS Eee PC 900A Netbook (Intel Atom N270 1.60 GHz processor, 1GB DDR2, 4GB SSD) for $179.99 with free shipping, a $79.95 version of Microsoft Office (that's half off), and a free iPod touch if you purchase a new Mac at the Apple store.

For help deciding on products, visit our Reviews section.

Related articles:

**

Sprint announced Wednesday two new additions to its Mobile Broadband Router product line, which can connect multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices at 3G or "4G" mobile broadband speeds--where Sprint 3G and "4G" networks are available, of course.

The Sprint Personal Hotspot PHS300S ($159.99) and Cradlepoint MBR-1000 Broadband Router for business ($249.99)each feature both 3G and "4G" connectivity. (We assume by "4G" the company means WiMAX? Sprint is a partner in the Clearwire WiMAX venture.)

Data plans range from $39.99 to $79.99 per month (excluding taxes and surcharges). 

Used in combination with Sprint mobile broadband devices, suchas the 3G/4G USB Modem U300, PHS300S and MBR-1000 can simultaneously connect Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones, laptops, MP3 players, cameras, gaming devices, and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the Sprint 3G and 4G networks, essentially becoming a MiFi-like hotspot creator.

Sprint Personal Hotspot PHS300S supports up to four simultaneous Wi-Fi connections and Cradlepoint MBR-1000 Broadband Router for business supports up to 32 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Both routers will support all of Sprint 3G and Sprint 4G mobile broadband USB devices. 

"These mobile broadband routers provide an unprecedented bridge to high-speed network performance for multiple Wi-Fi devices or multiple users," said Todd Rowley, vice president, Sprint 4G in a press release Wednesday. "The addition of these mobile hotspot products offers even faster connectivity speeds to Wi-Fi users without the need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot. These two new products can potentially connect the Sprint 3G and 4G networks to the hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the U.S. today." 

Currently, Sprint offers its "4G" service in Baltimore, MD. The company says service will come to Portland, OR, Atlanta, GA, and Las Vegas, NV this month, with Charlotte, NC, Chicago, IL, Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX, Honolulu, HI, Philadelphia, PA, and Seattle set for service by end of year.

According to Sprint, its "4G" provides average downlink speeds of 3-6 Mbps and peak downlink speeds of over 10 Mbps.

For more on WiMAX, Sprint, and 4G, see these stories:

August 5, 2009

T-Mobile's new Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone, the myTouch 3G with Google, is available nationwide in stores and online today. T-Mobile is celebrating with "an aerial spectacle" in San Francisco at noon PDT today that will include 100 skydivers, each dressed as unique personalities "to reflect the individuality of the myTouch experience." The high flyers with colorful parachutes will create synchronized formations over the city

During the celebration, the skydivers--accompanied by fly-by jets--will land at four locations around San Francisco: Embarcadero/Justin Herman Plaza, Marina Green Park, Pier 39, and Moscone Recreation Center. T-Mobile said in a press release today that spectators at Justin Herman Plaza will have the opportunity to interact with the skydivers and "product ambassadors," to sample the new myTouch device and to receive "exciting gifts."

Read our myTouch review here.

August 4, 2009

Dell has introduced its new Precision M6400 Notebook with integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth today at Siggraph in New Orleans.

InformationWeek reports that the mobile workstation powered by AMD's new ATI FirePro M7740 graphics accelerator is targeted at digital content creators, engineers, and others who work with large models in Microsoft Direct X- or OpenGL-based computer-aided design applications.

Official pricing seems unclear, but the Dell Web site shows it starting at around $2,100--or around $2,300 with fingerprint reader and Webcam;. (InformationWeek reports a starting price about $1,000 higher). The Precision M6400 combines power and portability, at least, that is, according to Janet Matsuda, senior director of professional graphics at AMD who titled her blog post about the new system, "Desktop-like 3D Performance That Fits in Your Carry-on." 

Learn more from Dell here.

**

"Cablevision has seen its broadband customers make more than 2 million WiFi [sic] connections since it began offering the free service last fall. Now, Comcast is taking it one step further, rolling out WiMAX to customers in Portland, Ore., over Clearwire Corp.’s 4G network.Comcast’s “High-Speed 2go” will allow laptop users speeds of up to 4 Mbps, for $49.99 per month for the first year and includes 12 Mbps home broadband service and a WiFi [sic] router," writes Jim O'Neill at FierceTelecom.

Comcast became an investor in Clearwire in November of 2008.

More details about Comcast's WiMAX-based service can be found in this June 29th press release, which interestingly refers not to "WiMAX," but to "4G" throughout, a term that still lacks an official definition, but which Clearwire is keen on branding. (Read our Webopedia definition here.)

And read why "Wi-Fi" should always be hyphenated here. (Short answer: it's a trademarked term and the hyphen has never been optional.)

Find more WiMAX coverage here.

**

Could HTC’s new Wi-Fi-enabled 3G Android smart phones be iPhone killers? HTC and Google, which commercialized the open source Android mobile OS, no doubt hope so. But don’t count on it.

In terms of features and usability, the new HTC Magic and Dream phones do give Apple a good run for its money. But in terms of cool factor and availability of applications, they can’t really compete. Yet.

Not that the HTC products aren’t attractive. They are.

The comparisons in particular between iPhone and Magic—available in early August in the U.S. from T-Mobile, as MyTouch 3G—are hard to avoid. Like iPhone, Magic has no dedicated number pad or keyboard, but does have a very slick touchscreen interface, arguably better in some respects than iPhone’s.

Read the rest of our review here.

**

The new DCS-1130 Wireless N Network Camera from D-Link met with less than favorable reviews when Wi-Fi Planet looked at it this month. Read the full review here.

**

Apple is not known for being an especially fast-moving company: Earlier this year it left a Java vulnerability unpatched for several months while other major platforms fixed it immediately.

But on Friday it issued a fix for the SMS vulnerability that was a highlight of the Black Hat conference just one day earlier. The vulnerability was shown by several researchers who showed how to take over a user's phone by way of a simple SMS message.

One pair of researchers showed the carrier side of the problem while another duo showed the iPhone side of the vulnerability. All that was needed was the phone number of an iPhone to start the attack, they said.

**

VOXOFON has announced a mobile voice over Internet (VoIP) application for the Palm WebOS platform, designed specifically for use on the new Palm Pre smartphone, which will be available on the Palm App Catalog later this year.

The company says that after installation, callers can simply click on the VOXOFON icon on the phone screen to place a low-cost international call. The application works anywhere the phone has coverage and does not require a Wi-Fi connection. There are, apparently, no monthly fees or contracts.

"VoIP technology offers great savings for international calling, but until recently it hasn't been readily available on mobile phones, whose users have traditionally paid a premium for long-distance service," Alexey Goloshubin, CEO of VOXOFON said in a press release last week. "We are very pleased to be able to add Palm Pre users to our smart phone customer base."

For more details, visit www.voxofon.com.

**

If Apple does indeed go through with delivery of a long-rumored tablet--jokingly called the iPad on some blogs--it will have a most unlikely competitor: publisher Michael Arrington of the TechCrunch.com tech blog fame.

Arrington first acknowledged his plans for a hardware product in early July in the San Francisco Business Journal. The product, dubbed the "CrunchPad," is a touch-screen tablet designed for Web surfing and other Internet use and was designed with reader input.

Arrington didn't get into the technical details of his creation, but the Singapore-based newspaper The Straits Times did. It profiled a small start-up called Fusion Garage that developed the device for Arrington.

The CrunchPad sports a 12-inch screen, bigger than the rumored 10-inch screen of the iPad, and weighs 2.6 pounds (1.2kg). It runs a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, includes 1GB of RAM and has its own proprietary Web-centric browser operating system created by Fusion Garage, based on WebKit.

The entire system is touch-driven with a virtual keyboard for typing and a simple finger swipe for other actions. It comes with an accelerometer, one USB port, and built-in Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. Its biggest omission is no storage, not even flash storage. The Straits Times projects the price at US$399.

More details at InternetNews.com.

**

SMS is a standard feature on hundreds of millions of mobile phones globally and according to a series of researchers it's also insecure.

At the Black Hat security conference, multiple researchers took the stage to detail how they were able to use to take over a user's phone by way of a simple SMS message.

Researchers Zane Lackey and Luis Miras took specific aim at the carrier side of the problem while Charlie Miller and Collin Mulliner took aim at the iPhone itself. "The cool thing is that you only need the phone number in order to start your attacks," Miller told the audience.

Read more at InternetNews.com.



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