Archive for April, 2009

Nokia admits mistakes over UK launch of "Comes With Music"

Nokia Comes With Music

Nokia and I are in agreement over at least one thing: the company made mistakes when launching its all-you-can-eat music subscription offering “Comes With Music” in the UK. The service whereby you purchase a qualifying Nokia handset and then get access to the entire library of the Nokia Music Store for 12 – 18 months and get to keep any downloaded tracks once the subscription ends, was launched in the UK on two aging phones and with the backing of only one carrier and one retail chain.

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Rumor: New PlayStation Portable betting on Sony PSP App Store

New PSP mockup (credit: 1UP)

New PSP mock-up (credit:

If reports are to be believed, a new version of Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP) will ditch the handheld games console’s UMD disc drive in favor of 8GB or 16GB of internal storage. Games would then need to be purchased as downloads rather than housed on physical media, likely locking the PSP’s future software eco-system to Sony’s equivalent of Apple’s iPhone App Store.

From gaming site 1UP:

… since the UMD is going away, Sony will have over 100 classic and new PSP titles available for download at launch (Gran Turismo Mobile is said to be one of the premier launch titles). As for the hardware itself, the redesign will include a d-pad, analog nub, and face buttons as part of a sliding unit sticking out below the screen (as seen in our mockup above).

Furthermore, 1UP speculates that the new PSP could build on features found in Sony’s Mylo 2 Internet device, a product that hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. “This could provide an 800×480 pixel touch screen for the system, as well as a camera on the system’s backside”, suggest the site.

PR wars: Palm Pre could go on sale 24 hours before next gen iPhone unveiled

The latest rumored release date for Palm’s comeback device, the Palm Pre, is June 7th, one day before Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). If true, this would be an audacious move from the handset maker, and one that, at first glance, carries a lot of risk. WWDC is thought to be the venue at which Apple will announce the next generation iPhone – and possibly a new category of mobile device – therefore completely overshadowing the Palm Pre’s one day old availability.

Or would it?

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Hands-on review: Flip Mino HD "point and shoot" camcorder

Flip Mino HD

Flip Mino HD

Flip’s (Pure Digital in the US) Mino HD is the follow up to the popular Mino “point and shoot” camcorder – a product category that the company practically invented – this time upgrading the video quality to High Definition or 720p MP4 to be precise. From the industrial design alone, however, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference.

The Mino HD shares the exact casing as its standard definition relation, weighing in at just 94 grams and not much bigger than a typical candy bar cell phone. The device also features the same iconic flip out USB connector – hence the ‘Flip’ name – which makes it convenient to transfer clips shot on the Mino HD to a PC as well as providing the sole means for charging the non-removable battery.

In place of a view finder is a tiny 1.5 inch LCD screen (made smaller yet by the 4:3 aspect ratio despite the Mino HD shooting in 16:9), which, thankfully, is bright enough to be seen in the sun. Just below the screen is a large red record button surrounded by six touch sensitive controls (play/delete/up/down/left/right), and down the right hand side is the power button. On the left is a TV-out (no HDMI just composite), and on the rear is a standard tripod mount.

The Mino HD has 4GB of built-in flash memory – enough for about an hour of video – and Flip quotes the battery life as 2 hours between charging, more than enough to match the camcorder’s storage capacity.

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Samsung's first Google phone: Android 1.5, OLED screen, thinner than iPhone


Samsung's Android-based i7500

At last there’s some real competition among phones running Google’s Android OS, with Samsung announcing its first “Gphone”, the unimaginatively named i7500, which should see a European release in June (no word yet on U.S. availability).

Despite Samsung being one of the first major handset makers to join the Google-led Open Handset Alliance, it was left to Taiwanese HTC, working closely with T-Mobile and Google itself, to release the first Android phone called the G1 (see our review). And although the Android OS impressed, particularly its fast and elegant web browser, the G1’s hardware was disappointing to say the least. The device is chunky, has a sub-par camera, and the phone’s battery life doesn’t tally with Android’s always-on connectivity. HTC’s follow-up, the Magic, looks to be an improvement over the G1, although I’ve yet to have a hands-on with the device so can’t say for sure. Enter Samsung’s i7500, which on paper at least, has a number of things going for it.

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Weekly wrapup: The Gadget Show Live, and more

Here’s a summary of the last 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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Last week’s coverage on last100 was dominated by a back log of reports and video from the UK’s The Gadget Show Live expo.

Steve at The Gadget Show Live

Steve at The Gadget Show Live

The Gadget Show Live: Flip Mino HD ‘point and shoot’ camcorder

One of the first products that I got to check out at The Gadget Show Live last week was the Mino HD from Flip. The updated version of their popular ‘point and shoot’ camcorder – a product category that the company practically invented – supports 720p HD video (H.264) and has 4GB of on-board memory (non-expandable), which provides enough storage to shoot about an hour’s worth of footage.

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Zatz Not Funny: Amazon VOD HD, Adobe Flash on TV, bandwidth caps, Moxi HD DVR pricing

A periodic roundup of relevant news from our friends at Zatz Not Funny


Amazon VOD in HD finally arrives (Roku & TiVo)

Dave Zatz: Two years after launching “Unbox” on TiVo (~$250), Amazon (AMZN) has finally rolled out HD video on demand. Early reports from various sources indicate excellent quality.

Adobe’s Flash-y set-top demo at the NAB Show

Mari Silbey: Adobe’s announcement to bring Flash to the living room is undoubtedly the biggest news out of this year’s NAB show. While much of the focus of the annual event put on by the National Association of Broadcasters goes to the business of producing content, there are always a few flashy tech demos in the mix as well.

Bandwidth caps: round 27

Mari Silbey: Get used to it. We’re going to be talking about bandwidth caps for a long time to come. To sum up the latest happenings, Time Warner Cable sparked fresh outrage with the recent news that it would be testing consumption-based billing beyond Beaumont Texas.

Digeo to unveil Moxi payment plans

Dave Zatz: Later this week, Digeo will unveil two interest-free Moxi HD DVR ($799, no fees) payment plans. While I would have preferred to see a straight up price cut, this may may reduce the sticker shock for some and/or make the device more accessible.

Joost up for sale? Old media to the rescue

We already knew that sometime in 2009 Joost would run low on cash – CEO Mike Volpi said as much last December – and now five months on the Internet TV service is shopping around for a buyer, reports CNet.

Having already re-invented itself once, ditching its P2P desktop application in favor of a browser-based site powered by Flash video (just like everybody else), the company, founded by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis of Skype fame, is trying once again. This time Joost is positioning itself an ideal platform for powering the Internet TV ambitions of a cable or satellite company, according to the report. Time Warner are said to be the only party interested so far, although both companies have refused to comment.

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Why has Nokia's 'Comes With Music' been a flop in the UK?

Nokia's Comes With Music at Carphone Warehouse, UK

Nokia’s all-you-can-eat music offering “Comes With Music” (CWM) hasn’t exactly caught on in the UK, according to Music Ally, with the service attracting just over 23,000 active users. “Given the high-profile marketing campaign around its launch with retailer Carphone Warehouse, that’s a sluggish start”, notes the site. So why has CWM been a flop here in the UK?

First a quick recap of what CWM offers: those who purchase a supported Nokia handset get 12 months “unlimited access to the entire Nokia Music Store catalog with the ability to keep all downloaded tracks even after the year is over.” Tracks can be downloaded “over the air” or sideloaded via a PC (Windows only), and are ‘policed’ using Windows Digital Rights Management (DRM). To continue downloading tracks on an “unlimited” basis once the 12 months are up, users need to purchase a new CWM handset.

While the thinking behind CWM has some merit – offer a paid-for music service in a way that “feels like free” and compensates labels and artists accordingly – Nokia’s execution has been poor, at least in the UK (sales elsewhere are reportedly much better), although much of the blame, as always, must rest with the record labels themselves.

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BlackBerry address book integrates Facebook, apes Palm Pre's "Synergy" and INQ1

blackberry-facebookA new version of the Facebook for BlackBerry application has been released that offers better integration with the social networking site. Two standout features: a user’s friends list is kept in sync with the handset’s built-in address book – Facebook avatars show up as called ID, for example – and notifications from the social networking site are “pushed” to the phone’s home screen. Other features offered, not all of which are new, include:

  • Send/receive message or wall posts, pokes and friend requests.
  • Update your status, view and comment on your friends’ status.
  • Share photos from your BlackBerry smartphone with tags/comments and post to Facebook with just one click.

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