iPad Reviewed, No Big Surprises…

image As soon as the embargo is lifted, a slew of iPad reviews have hit the Web. The reviews including the usual suspect  WSJ’s Walt Mossberg, NYT’s David Pogue, PC Magazine, USA Today ans BoingBoing. And yes, I read them all.

There are no negative surprises overall, the device did fulfill what it is expected to deliver, meaning a great content consumption device; great user experience, speedy action and it exceeds expectation as far as battery life is concerned.

The already know shortfalls such lack of Flash support, multi-tasking, USB and camera don’t seem to bother much the reviewers.

The weight of the iPad at 1.5lbs, limited number of available book and not ubiquitous reading experience  might give reasons for Kindle to survive…

Mossberg goes further to mention the iPad might change the way people interact with computer..And the mouse days could be numbers… And he thinks the iPad might eclipse most laptop, netbook usage in a significant way.  

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Sprint Offers “Satisfaction Guaranteed or Money-Back”

image Starting this Friday, Sprint is offering a new program called ”Sprint Free Guarantee” on all contracts. Meaning any new subscriber can walk away should he/she is not satisfied with the new relationship with Sprint. No question to ask. Sprint will reimburse the activation fee and refund the entire service including surcharges and taxes.

So far, there’s no catch, but I am sure there are fine lines when you sign the contract!


Press Release

OVERLAND PARK, Kan., Mar 31, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) –Sprint (NYSE: S) is backing up its promise to be the best value in wireless, by announcing the only full money-back satisfaction guarantee on service plans that exists in the wireless industry today.

Beginning tomorrow, the Sprint Free Guarantee gives any customer opening a new line of service the chance to try Sprint for 30 days. If a customer isn’t completely satisfied, they can get reimbursed for the device purchase and activation fee, get the early termination fee waived, get a full refund for service plan monthly recurring charges incurred and get all associated taxes and Sprint surcharges associated with these charges waived. In addition, Sprint will waive the restocking fee for new customer exchanges as part of this policy.

"Sprint’s new guarantee policy is yet another effort by them to respond to the needs of wireless consumers today," said Sheryl Kingstone, Director, Yankee Group. "It’s giving consumers the transparency they need to best determine whether they are completely satisfied with the services they want from their carrier. Sprint is putting more power in the hands of its customers and helping to create a better experience for them overall."

The Sprint Free Guarantee is a unique step in what is a growing list of industry "firsts" for Sprint, as no other major wireless carrier matches this guarantee today.

Competitive Comparison:

      Sprint     AT&T     Verizon     T-Mobile
Money-back policies    

30 Days

    30 Days     30 Days    

20 Days (30 days in CA)

Full monthly service plan- related charges refunded    

X

                 
Taxes and fees associated with the charges above waived    

X

                 
Activation fee reimbursed    

X

    Fee applies after 3 days.     Fee applies after 3 days.      
Restocking fee waived    

X

    Fee may apply.     Fee may apply.     Fee may apply.
Device costs reimbursed    

X

   

X

   

X

   

X

Early termination fee (ETF) waived    

X

   

X

   

X

   

X

Sprint customers will be responsible for certain charges not associated with the Sprint Free Guarantee: usage not included in the monthly service plan, premium content (i.e. digital downloads, songs, games, applications), third-party billing, international charges and any associated taxes and Sprint surcharges.

"When Dan Hesse came to Sprint, he committed to changing Sprint and the wireless industry for the better. This guarantee is a strong statement about our confidence in the improvements we have made in our network, customer experience, rate plans and handset line-up," said Bob H. Johnson, president, Consumer, Sprint. "But we also know that consumers always have fears about switching their services to another provider, so we’ve made it easy for them to try us. Not satisfied? Cancel within 30 days and we’ll give you your money back."

As part of the guarantee campaign, Hesse is featured in a stand-alone TV ad touting the Sprint Free Guarantee that begins running tomorrow on network and cable outlets. In the ad Hesse invites customers to join Sprint, "and if you’re not completely happy with Sprint within 30 days, we’ll give you your money back."

"This is a big win for cost conscious consumers," said noted Consumer Lifestyle Advisor Jennifer Jolly. "We want this kind of honesty and transparency. We want to know there’s no more sticker-shock or bait and switch, that when a company promises us something, their word is good. Can you imagine if we could test drive a bank, health insurance, a credit-card, or any of the other things we spend our hard earned money on every month – free for 30-days? This is a big step in the right direction for Corporate America and we savvy shoppers are the ones who will benefit the most."

The Sprint Free Guarantee is one of several game-changing policies, services and products Sprint has announced over the last couple of years that has revolutionized the industry. Its award-winning device line-up, great voice and data networks, and its unmatched value in pricing plans are the reasons why Sprint is confident customers will want to give the company a try.

  • Pricing plans – Plans such as Sprint’s Everything Data, featuring Any Mobile, Anytime, offers an unlimited wireless experience starting at just $69.99 per month. This means Sprint customers can get unlimited calling to and from any mobile phone in America, unlimited messaging and unlimited Web, including GPS navigation, for the same price AT&T and Verizon charge for unlimited talk only. In addition, with the Sprint Right Plan Promise, customers can move to any rate plan at any time without requiring a contract extension or any fees.
  • Network Advantages: 3G & 4G services – Sprint is the first national wireless carrier to launch 4G. The service is available in 28 cities today, providing a new and improved Internet experience through the next generation of services. Sprint is extending its 4G leadership by launching the HTC EVO 4G this summer – the world’s first 3G/4G Android phone. Sprint also has the largest voice calling and the second largest 3G data network (inclusive of roaming).
  • Device Line-up – Whether customers want the latest Blackberry smartphone, an Android phone like HTC Hero with Google or Samsung Moment with Google, or Palm Pre or Pixi, Sprint has an award-winning line-up of Smartphones and devices to fit any budget. The upcoming launch of its HTC EVO 4G, will offer one of the most robust multimedia experiences on a wireless phone today. It won "best of CTIA" earlier this month.
  • Sprint Premier – Sprint celebrated the one-year anniversary of Sprint Premier, its exclusive rewards program in 2010. Sprint Premier provides annual upgrades, anniversary rewards, accessory discounts, "Just Because" perks like trips and tickets to events, and many other benefits to members. Customers with Sprint Everything Data plans are automatically enrolled in Sprint Premier.
  • Ready Now – Sprint offers a personal trainer-like service free of charge called Ready Now. This exclusive Sprint experience offers hands-on device training and set up for customers at Sprint stores nationwide. A Laptop magazine study last Fall gave Sprint first place in a tie for in-store customer service.

The changes are all helping to build customer loyalty and ensure customers have a great experience with Sprint. During the past eight quarters, Sprint’s retention of existing customers has improved at a rate more than five times that of its nearest competitor 1 and overall customer satisfaction has improved as well. The guarantee is another important step in Sprint’s pursuit of customer experience excellence.

For complete information about the Sprint Free Guarantee visit, www.sprint.com/guarantee beginning tomorrow.

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AT&T Feels The Heat!

image As the long-standing exclusivity with AT&T might come to an end soon, Apple is rumored to possibly have a CDMA version of the iPhone in June time frame. The CDMA version might head to Verizon Wireless, which currently has over 90 million subscribers.

With more choices to consumers, the competition landscape will change for the better. AT&T is working feverishly  with Apple to further reduce strain on its network. AT&T is  ramping to increase capacity of its network in an effort to ease user complains, according to the WSJ.

AT&T reportedly flew its people to Apple’s California offices to give Apple designers a crash course in wireless networking, which ended up in regular meetings between the two parties. As a result, the WSJ report says iPhones put less load on AT&T’s network when they need to find the closest cell tower or check for text messages.

AT&T is also launching a so-called “100-day network improvement plan”, where it added new network spectrum to help with traffic handling and repositioned antennas in many locations to aid reception in office towers.

In addition to working with Apple, AT&T reportedly made improvements to its network as well. Part of a so-called 100-day network improvement plan, AT&T added new network spectrum to help with traffic handling and repositioned antennas in many locations to aid reception in office towers.

[Via PCWorld]

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MapQuest 4 Mobile adds Voice Guidance to iPhone

The free MapQuest 4 Mobile app for iPhone just added turn-by-turn with street name Voice-Guidance , its latest addition to Driving Directions, for a more hands-free experience!

In addition, Mapquest provides up to 16 million Point of Interests, including local businesses.

This is a great alternative to the iPhone maps built-in and of course paid apps such TomTom, Navigon, etc..

image

Feature Highlights
  • NEW! Voice-Guidance speaks to you and informs you of upcoming turns. Change the settings if you prefer a sound prompt.
  • NEW! Off-Route Assistance tells you when you’ve taken a wrong turn, and gives options to help you get back on track.
  • Auto-Advance Feature improves "Find Me" by using iPhone GPS to automatically locate you within your driving directions, recognize when you have taken a turn, and prepare you with the next maneuver – all without having to touch the screen.
  • Energy savings mode allows you to set the power consumption level for MapQuest 4 Mobile – NOW with a medium setting for continued voice guidance when the screen dims!
  • Walking directions (pedestrian mode)
  • Highly usable driving directions featuring an oversized display as well as landscape mode orientation.
  • Save Maps and Routes on MapQuest.com and retrieve on your iPhone
  • MapQuest place carousel allows you to easily display locations for hotels, movie theatres, gas stations, and more with a single tap.
  • Negotiate difficult turns/sets of turns with orientation arrows when viewing directions in map mode.
  • Free-form search for businesses and places.
  • Make your own my position icon representing You on the map. Use the built in camera or choose from a variety of existing icons.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj_F8Zeh2Kk[/youtube]

Next iPhone Will Have CDMA Support

image The iPad speculation game comes to an end, it is time for new ones, that is exactly what WSJ did today.

The newspaper reports based on analysts briefed by Apple that not the new iPhone is coming, it will come in 2 flavors, one of them is CDMA. CDMA is a Qualcomm technology that Verizon and Sprint are using in the US and few carriers in South Korea and Japan.  

The people briefed on the matter said the upgraded GSM iPhone is being made by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which produced Apple’s previous iPhones. The CDMA iPhone model is being made by Pegatron Technology Corp., the contract manufacturing subsidiary of Taiwan’s ASUSTeK Computer Inc., said these people.

At this point, we are not sure which CDMA carrier will carry the next iPhone, but based on popularity, Verizon is most likely will be the chosen one.

As far as the device itself, rumors speculate larger screen, front facing camera, thinner, A4 processor similar to the one used in the iPad and iPhone OS4, which might support multi-tasking,… 

[Via WSJ]

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Streaming Video Between iPhone and Android Phone

image Knocking Live Video by Pointy Heads Software brings brings cross-platform phone-to-phone video streaming between Android phone and iPhone (of course streaming phone to alike phone is supported too) . The streaming works over WiFi and 3G network.

Once installed and registered, users can start requesting each other permission to one way streaming video.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fxzzeM760M[/youtube] Video link

Pointy Heads Software also invites you to try its photo sharing app called called Knocking, which lets user share up to 100 photos at once between two iPhones.

From Pointy Head Software:

The latest update has many other new features and improved performance, including web search, and a new web forum where you can share your knocking experiences with other knockers. With the new username and password registration, you can now log in from multiple devices. The new more robust profile allows you to share more information about yourself (at your discretion) with other knockers. The privacy feature allows knocks from only those you want to find you.

Knocking is not just an app that runs on your phone. It is network dependent communication software, so it will work differently depending on where you are. 3G networks are improving daily, and 4G will be here soon. These network improvements will have a very positive effect on your knocking experience.

[Via TechChrunch]

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The HTC HD2 is Windows 7 Phone Capable

image When announcing Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft was adamant about a new crop of devices that will adhere to Microsoft restrictions form both hardware configuration and user interface. The new OS is not downward compatible.

This morning some videos have been published on the Web showing the HTC HD2, which is running on Windows Mobile 6.5 can be ROM updated to run Windows Phone 7 OS without major issues. If the videos are indeed real, this would prove 2 points:

  • Some of current Windows Mobile phones could be upgradable whether officially if the manufacturers want to.
  • Microsoft restriction might not be tightly enforced as one might think

Or my other theory is HTC might be using this viral marketing to ensure users can spend money on the HTC HD2 now. The device actually could be upgradable to the later OS, when time permits.

Video-1 [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJCFdojbjh8[/youtube] Video link
Video-2 [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJJz_xUP3H0[/youtube] Video link

[Via Redmondpie]

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HTC to Bring Budget Smartphones to the US

image At the last CES, HTC unveiled a phone that runs Qualcomm’s Brew MP operating system with the company Sense UI layer on top. HTC calls it “Smartphone for the mass”, but the name Smart could represent a new platform that perhaps several models will be based on.

In an interview at the CTIA Wireless , Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC’s North American division shared that HTC will be bringing the Smart platform to the United States, just not that actual device"

Phones based on Smart platform are expected to sell for around $200-300 unsubsidized., Where the current Smartphones cost around $500 unsubsidized

Apparently the name of feature phone days are number as the Smartphone are picking up steam, however, according  to HTC, less sophisticated users might represent a large segment of the mobile market, and HTC will be ready for them. 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jHcJSqSEN0[/youtube] Video link

[Via Forbes]

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Adding USB Sticks To Your Xbox 360

image

Microsoft is updating the Xbox360 firmware to allow the addition of up to 2 USB mass storage devices (USB sticks). Each USB stick is limited in size from 1GB to 16GB and is required to be specially formatted with Xbox 360 utility.

Up to additional 32GB can be used to copy games to these devices, or saving Live Arcade games, movies, and downloadable contents

The update, reportedly will be included in the next April 6 firmware release.

Microsoft Major Nelson posted on Flickr showing   the new memory management tools.

:

[Via CBS/Cnet]

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