Archive for August, 2008

Review: Samsung Tocco SGH-F480

Tocco is the Italian word for touch, and as you may have guessed, the Tocco SGH-F480 is Samsung’s latest touchscreen phone to hit the market. Once again, comparisons to the iPhone are inevitable, and although the Tocco is no iPhone killer – not that such a thing exists – it does sport at least a couple of features – haptic feedback and a 5 megapixel camera – that better Apple’s iconic device.

The Tocco is also smaller than the iPhone, measuring 98.4 x 55 x 11.6 mm compared to Apple’s 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm. It’s lighter too, shaving off just over 25 grams. Of course, what you gain in pocketability, you lose in screen real estate (particularly important for a touchscreen device), although we think that for those who find the iPhone to be on the bulky side, especially when used as a phone, the trade off could be worth it. If you’ve ever wondered what an iPhone nano might look like, the Tocco gives you a pretty good idea.

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Weekly wrapup, 11-15 August 2008

Here’s a summary of the week’s digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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[Ed. Apologies for the sparse wrapup this week. Normal transmission will resume shortly :-)]

Despite projections, eBook readers are not going to be next iPod without changes

As a voracious reader I am happy to see the success of the Kindle, Amazon’s electronic book reader. But no matter how many devices Amazon or others sell, the whole eBook reader thing is fundamentally flawed.

Let’s be honest. Electronic reading devices mostly suck. The platforms or ecosystems eBook readers are built on — from content purchase and management to DRM — are awful.

So when I read that Mark Mahaney of CitiGroup says that Amazon is expected to sell about 380,000 Kindles in 2008, I applaud. I desperately want eBooks and eBook readers to be as successful as the iPod — and that’s millions of units sold, not just a few hundred thousand.

But eBook readers will never be as successful as the iPod. Not the way that the publishing industry works today. Not the way eBooks are designed and manufactured.

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PlayTV: Sony cripples portable features of its PS3 DVR

It looks like we jumped the gun in our praise of PlayTV, Sony’s forthcoming DVR add-on for the PlayStation 3. The feature we liked the best, the ability to transfer recordings onto the PlayStation Portable (PSP) or any device that supports MPEG2 playback, appears to have been dropped at the last minute. Instead, users are restricted to streaming live TV or recordings to a PSP over a local network or the Internet, SlingBox-style. And while this is still a neat feature in itself, it renders the device nearly useless for watching recordings on-the-go since the Remote Play functionality of the PSP requires Wi-Fi access.

“With regards to PlayTV, you can not transfer content to your PSP, PC, or memory sticks” a Sony spokeswoman tells The Register.

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We7 signs Warner Music for ad-supported streaming and MP3 downloads

Why are ad-supported models such a hard sell to the major record labels? “It’s simple”, answered Steve Purdham CEO of We7 in a recent interview with last100. “They are worried that if they leave the iTunes model, the revenues they get will be diminished”.

At the time, Purdham’s company, which offers ad-supported streaming and downloads, didn’t have a single major on board. That was just over six months ago, and how things have moved on.

In early March, We7 unveiled its first major label partner, Sony BMG, to offer free streaming of its music catalog to We7 users in the UK. And just today the company announced a partnership with a second major label: Warner Music UK.

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Vudu now offering 99c rentals

As if porn wasn’t enough to differentiate itself from competitors, this time Vudu (see our early review) has cheapened its set-top box movie service in the right way by offering heavily discounted rentals through its newly launched “99 for 99” movie channel.

As the name suggests, 99 movies will be on offer priced at just 99 cents per rental. Titles will be “personally” chosen by Vudu’s “in-house movie expert” Steven Horn, and will include both recent releases and “classics”, with selections rotated each week.

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Why Google should have developed its own Gphone

It’s been almost a year since I wrote “The Gphone is coming; how Google could rewrite the rules.” And during this time I’ve wanted to give Google the benefit of the doubt for choosing its Android strategy over developing the phone itself.

But I can’t. It’s the wrong strategy.

Whether the Google phone comes out in September, or later this year, or sometime in early 2009, it really doesn’t matter. All this bickering over supposed hardware delays, software issues, and hurt developer feelings has me wondering how Google would have fared if it had taken a different path and developed the Gphone on its own.

Why should Google do this?

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Surprise, surprise: Why I refuse to upgrade to iPhone 3G

I’ve had the money in my wallet since July 11, but I refuse to spend it on iPhone 3G. And this really, really surprises me.

As the second generation iPhone went on sale, I wrote down several concerns — or predications, depending on how you look at it — and waited a month for everything iPhone 3G to shake out. I wanted to use hindsight to tell me whether I made the right or wrong decision not to upgrade from the original iPhone.

So far, I have no regrets. And here’s why.

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Exclusive first look: Livestation on Mac (screenshots)

We promissed you a first look at the upcoming Mac version of Livestation, so here it is.

A quick recap: Livestation is a desktop app developed by UK startup Skinkers which utilizes peer-to-peer technology to deliverer live TV to a user’s PC (currently Windows-only). Content-wise, Livestation focuses on 24 hour news stations such as Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Bloomberg Television and EuroNews. The software has been developed by UK startup Skinkers.

The new Mac version, which is very much a pre-release, is ahead of the version for Windows on a number of features including:

A visual carousel to choose channels

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The real surprise of the App Store isn't number of downloads or revenue

That the iPhone’s App Store has delivered 60 million downloads and generated an average of $1 million a day in revenue since its launch a month ago isn’t all that surprising.

To begin with, the App Store couldn’t be any easier to use. All apps available to purchase and download either from the familiar iTunes Store or from the device itself. Next, factor in Apple’s marketing machine, the quantity and quality of apps available from Day One – many of which are free – combined with the fact that the typical iPhone owner has cash to spare and an early adopter mentality geared towards trying out new things, and you have a surefire hit on your hands.

Instead, the real surprise is that the carriers – AT&T in the U.S. and 02 in the UK – agreed to Apple launching the App Store in the first place. Or more specifically, that Apple could offer the App Store in the manner in which they have done.

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