Videophone with the Biscotti TV Phone

CES HonoreeThe sci-fi vision of the videophone being as commonplace as the telephone hasn’t materialised but Skype and Google+ Hangouts have made videocalls with webcams popular, especially with families who are a spread across the world. Having said that, it’s still not as convenient as picking up your phone and dialling a number.

Biscotti hopes to change that will their TV Phone, which has just been announced as a 2012 CES Innovations Honoree. It’s a small camera unit that sits on top of your TV, connecting to the TV via HDMI and to the network via WiFi, allowing owners to make high-definition video calls to other Biscotti owners and Google video chat users. After an initial setup which only takes minutes, the Biscotti TV Phone is ready to make or take calls.

Biscotti TV PhoneThe TV Phone uses a pass-through technology, meaning that there’s no need to change channels to receive a call. The TV Phone notifies users of incoming calls while they are watching TV via a pop-up message on screen. By using Google video chat, the Biscotti TV Phone can connect to any device that has a Google chat client, whether it’s Android, iPhone or a PC.

Biscotti is designed for people who value real-life, personal interaction. It’s a single-purpose, dedicated TV Phone that’s always ready to connect, so you can make and receive calls without interrupting your lifestyle,” said Dr. Matthew B. Shoemake, Biscotti’s CEO and Founder. “HDTVs are selling faster than any other consumer electronics product on the market, fueling the demand for high definition video calling. By 2015, we’re predicting 25% of homes will be making high-definition video calls daily.”

If it’s as simple to use as they claim (and there are some videos here), it could be a little winner. The Biscotti TV Phone is now available for $199 and no monthly fees. There’s no word on a twin pack, which is what I’d be interested in to link granddaughter with grandparents.

If you want to catch up with the Biscotti TV Phone, they’re on display at CES in South Hall 1, Booth #21442.

Android Causing WiFi Router Lockups

I’ve had an Android phone for about a year and a half (the HTC Evo from Sprint) but primarily because of battery use issues I’ve never used it on my home WiFi network.

In the interim, a few months ago I purchased a Barnes & Noble Nook Color, which runs a custom version of Android. I’ve also experimented with dual-booting the Nook with CyanogenMod 7, an open-source version of Android. When I dual-boot into CyanogenMod 7 and connect to my Apple Airport Extreme router, the router will loose Internet connectivity after only a few minutes, requiring me to cycle the router’s power off and back on to restore connectivity.

Now that I’ve been able to install the authorized version of Netflix onto the Nook after Barnes and Noble’s latest Nook OS update, I tried running Netflix on the Nook on my home network. After watching video for 15 or more minutes, my Apple router loses Internet connectivity.

My youngest brother has a newer HTC Android phone, and after he connected to my local WiFi network almost immediately the Apple router lost connectivity. It happened so frequently at one point that I was beginning to think the router was dying.

However, after futher experimentation I’ve determined that if I don’t connect any Android devices to my WiFi, the router seems to work as flawlessly as ever.

Time to check Mr. Google. Using the Google-suggested search term “android crashes router” (the term pops up immediately after I start typing “android cras   “ so I know plenty of other people are looking for a solution) 4,730,000 results come up. After reading through a number of posts by people experiencing the same issue, I have yet to come up with a definitive answer. What is it about a variety of versions of Android connecting to WiFi that is causing many different brands of routers to lose Internet connectivity? The problem is by no means an Apple Router/Android WiFi incompatibility – it therefore seems more likely an issue with Android itself, or at least certain Android builds.

The suggested fixes range from people suggesting that they try to update their router’s firmware to trying to confine the router to Wireless “G” only.

Ironically my HTC Evo phone can also be used as a WiFi hotspot. I can connect any Android device to the Evo’s WiFi hotspot feature and transfer all the data I want without issue. In other words, Android cannot cause my Android phone’s hotspot feature to lose Internet connectivity.

It would be logical to assume that this problem is an Android software issue. The problem seems inconsistent, most probably because of the patchwork-quilt variety of Android hardware and custom OS builds.

So far, the problem hasn’t even seemed to be officially acknowledged as an issue. I suspect that bad Android battery life has prevented a lot of people from trying to connect their Android phones to their home networks via WiFi, so mass numbers of people likely haven’t experienced the potential WiFi router crashing problem.

Of the people that do connect their phones to home WiFi routers, some people never have a problem, while others are constantly plagued by it.

Android crashing WiFi routers is enough to cause me to veer away from future Android devices, unless and until the problem is solved. Phase one of the chaos of the Windows desktop has spread to smartphones.

Welcome to the new Windows fractal – it’s name is Android.

MIPS Technologies Introduces a $99 Android 4.0 Tablet

If you wanted a $99 tablet, you would wait for the HP fire sales of the TouchPad, or buy a no-name brand tablet that had a low end processor and no memory. But MIPS Technologies has announced their entry into the market – a $99 tablet that can run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

You might have MIPS technology in your home already. The MIPS processor is what powers TVs, DTV boxes, and other appliances from Sony, Pioneer, Motorola, and Cisco (Linksys).

MIPS Technologies

MIPS Technologies

Now, it’s ready to enter in the mobile market with the new tablet. The first one, a 7″ tablet created by Ainovo; the NOVO7 runs using a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) at 444MHz. The processor is a 1GHz single core, but using a technology called XBurst. Called JZ4770, it’s MIPS32,  65 nanometer architecture. The processor notes it can show 2D or 3D video in 1080p, with a low power consumption (less than 250mW).

Unfortunately, the unit is also sold out at this time.

“The openness of Android is enabling a new level of connectedness and interaction between devices and between people across the globe,” said Sandeep Vij, president and CEO, MIPS Technologies. “We are excited to be a part of the Android ecosystem delivering on that vision. We applaud Ingenic’s accomplishment in developing this new high-performance, feature-rich Android 4.0 tablet, and offering it at a price point that makes it widely accessible. We look forward to teaming with Ingenic as it continues to develop MIPS-Based mobile innovations.”

Aionvo NOVO7

Aionvo NOVO7

Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google joined in on the praise:

“I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world.”

8″ and 9″ form factors will be available soon. All versions include support for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD, as well as 3D graphics (1080p video decoding) and dual front/rear cameras (the NOVO7 has a 2MP rear, VGA face camera system).

The age of the “throw-away” tablet could be coming sooner than you think.

 

Price of Chromebook Drops. Will You Buy it Now?

Chromebook Display at Google Places Event

Chromebook Display at Google Places Event

Google announced they are dropping the price of the Chromebook by 30%. Some Chromebooks will be as low as $299. But questions still arise if a Chromebook is in your holiday wish list, when you can get a Kindle Fire, nook Color for less. Even the iPad could be in more stockings than the ultra-portable laptop.

Chromebook came out back in June as Google’s answer to a PC that didn’t have a complicated OS to it. You would load the Chromebook up to a Chrome browser; inside, all your applications would be in the cloud and the data you create would also mostly reside in a cloud drive. However, if you were in a 3G deadspot or didn’t have Wifi, then your work would be rather limited.

Competing with a Tablet

Chromebook’s price drop is pretty much an attempt to counter the prices of the Kindle Fire and nook color tablets, which debuted to the general public last week at $199 and $249 respectively. The tablet – which you could connect a bluetooth keyboard and mouse – could technically become a more functional notebook than a Chromebook itself. And with prices at $100 lower than the device,  will a Samsung or Acer Chromebook even be in your holiday purchase radar?

What is Chromebook’s Market?

Google Chair at SF Airport

Google Chair at SF Airport

Chromebook has to figure out where their niche is going to be. Maybe as a laptop for the kids, or a machine you can keep in the kitchen to call up recipes or as a kiosk in a public place? Back in September, I saw the Chromebook lounge in the San Francisco Airport. Those kiosks would be great for people that have hours to wait but don’t have a computer to check their Facebook profiles or email on.

Remember when the Netbook was a popular item two years ago? What happened to that? The answer is the netbook disappeared fast. You can still get a netbook, but just like the Chromebook, why should you spend $300 or more for a device that is the same speed and power as a Kindle Fire or nook Color?

So now we can start to see the impact of these two new tablets are bringing to the holiday shopping season. Chromebook has to compete with something more compact and useable. Google has not released any data regarding Chromebooks sold, but a DigiTimes report (premium content site) says it all:

“In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry.”

What does that mean to Chromebook? Simply: It’s time to drop prices and hope the Chromebook will sell well in Q4.

iTwin – Reinventing Mac, PC USB Drive as Cloud Device

itwin

itwin

I have looked at this interesting product called the iTwin for a few weeks now. It’s a dongle for your computer that pairs two machines together – no matter where they are located. As long as they are on unrestricted WiFi, they can talk to each other.

Using military-grade encryption, the iTwin is pretty easy to use. Plug in one USB dongle into one computer, the other USB dongle into another computer. Connect up to an internet connection, then pair up the machines. When paired, you can pass information between the two. There is no storage limits (besides what the computers can hold).
The system comes with a “Remote Disable Code”, which you get via email. If your machine gets stolen, then initiate the code and your iTwin is disabled.
The main advantage to using the iTwin is you can have a machine with little or no data on it. Your other computer could become a cloud source only you can access. If you have PC or Mac, you can use this system.
“We are excited to be able to offer iTwin to both OS X and Windows customers,” says Lux Anantharaman, co-founder and CEO of iTwin. “We are confident that Mac users will be satisfied with the features iTwin offers, and which both consumers and small businesses have come to enjoy.  Now both Macs and PCs will have full, cross-platform capabilities with this revolutionary device that is perfect for their sensitive file sharing needs.”
The iTwin is available for $99 on their store or through Amazon.

GNC #687 Netflix Makes Everyone Mad!

Netflix opened a complete hornets nest by raising prices, but how many of you have canceled your service. New Video feed is available starting this show we will be publishing a mobile device only feed to see how many of you will subscribe to the smaller feed. As soon as we have the videos published I will update the website. New contest starting next show listen to win.

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Hands On: Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Extender

Recently I received a review unit of the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Extender.  It’s a tool that I am surprisingly well qualified to test.  You see, we live in an old, restored Victorian and my office, and router, are on the third floor.  However, most life takes place on the first two floors, where a laptop, tablet, and smartphones are in use.  Connectivity is there, it’s just not great.  It’s a long way for a “G” router to throw it’s signal.

The WN2000RPT comes with a simple setup and simple controls.  There are 4 wired ethernet ports on the back, along with a power switch.  On the front, there are five indicators that show your current status.  Colors change from yellow to green based on connection.  Different indicators light based on what you are doing.  It’s very simple and straight-forward in use.  You can place it anywhere that you have at least a small connection to the router.

Find a place to put the extender, plug it in, and turn it on.  Once it makes a connection to your home network the LED indicator will turn green.  Use your device to connect to the extender.  Once connected you will need to open your web browser – it doesn’t matter which one you use, any web browser will work here.  It should open to the site http://www.mywifiext.net  From there the wizard will walk you through a simple set-up process.  Once finished, the network name will change to YourNetworkName-Ext.

Our laptop normally has one or two bars on the first floor – not exactly unusable, but it makes web site load times a bit slower than what they are on the desktop with it’s wired connection.  Of course WiFi can never match ethernet, but it can come reasonably close.

Once I reconnect to the Extender with the laptop I received four full bars.  Web sites loaded much faster – noticeably so.  The extender is sitting in the same room as the laptop – there was one bar when connected to the router, which is two floors overheard.  The WN2000RPT requires very little signal strength to get a foothold and boost the signal up.

To further test the difference the Netgear device could make I used an app on my phone called WiFi Analyzer.  I took a reading near where the laptop and extender were located.  The router is graphed in blue, while the extender if depicted in red.

The Netgear WN2000RPT retails for around $70 – about the same price as a good router.  If you have a relatively small home to cover  – say 2000 square feet – then it’s probably not necessary.  But, if you have larger space that you want to blanket with WiFi, and especially if your are slinging media around, then this is a must-have.  The additional signal strength this device provided was more than noticeable, as you can see in the pictures above.  It has made our first-floor devices much more useful now that we no longer need to walk around looking for the best spot for a signal.

The only drawback I found was with my phone.  While it can see, and “connect” to the extender, unfortunately Android does not support DHCP.  So, even though it “connected”, it could not use the connection.  Since the the laptop and tablet were the major devices involved in our daily home-use, this was only a minor setback.

[UPDATE: In fact, Android DOES support DHCP.  It seems that I needed to visit mywifiext.com with each device to enable, and the I was able to get it working flawlessly]

In the end the Netgear WN2000RPT proved to be more than worth its relatively minor cost.  It provided a significant signal boost and it could do so from almost nothing.  The connection was solid, never dropping out, as some WiFi can do.  And, you can pick one up online for $60-70, so it’s really a great little addition to any home that lacks a quality WiFi signal everywhere.

 

WiFi-Only Samsung Galaxy Tab Lands April 10th!

Those of you who have been waiting patiently to get your hands on a WiFi-Only Galaxy Tab 7” will be happy to know the wait is over… almost.

In a press release sent out today, Samsung announced the WiFi-only Galaxy Tab will be available beginning April 10th and some online retailers (Circuit City, CompUSA, Tiger Direct) are already accepting preorders for those of you about to explode in anticipation.

The new model will provide all the same features as the 3G model that’s been available for some time now. A 7-inch screen, front and rear-facing cameras, Android 2.2 and Samsung’s Media Hub will all be there. However, the best part about the new WiFi-only model is the price tag. While we can go to just about any wireless carrier and pick one up for $299.99 after we sign a 2-yr service plan ($499.99 if we don’t), the WiFi-only model is available for about $350 and you won’t have to worry about any sort of contract!

Honestly, it’s about time. Samsung’s second generation tablets will be hitting shelves this summer. Oh, and they’ll be running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) opposed to Android 2.2 (Froyo) so you’re probably better off waiting, unless that $350 price tag has you all excited.

Edimax 3G-6200n 3G Wireless Router

Taiwanese Edimax has been making steady inroads at the cheaper end of the market with a range of products which typically undercut the market leaders on price. As with its Chinese sibling TP-Link, I’ve always been a bit wary of their products but recently I had the opportunity to try out the Edimax 3G-6200n, a 3G 11n wireless router and I was pleasantly surprised by the build standard and the features on offer.

To start with, the 3G-6200n cost £40 from Amazon. For comparison, the equivalent Netgear (MBRN3000) costs about twice as much. The Edimax device is quite an old device released in mid-2009 so the 11n is only of the 150 Mb/s variety and the LAN ports are only 100 Mb/s. The Netgear’s 11n runs to 300 Mb/s but still only has 100 Mb/s LAN ports. If you are only routing internet traffic, 150 Mb/s is going to be perfectly adequate.

On opening the box, there was the router itself, a PSU that usefully has an on/off switch, a short USB lead, various manuals and a CD. The router itself is plastic but it’s not really plasticky, if you follow. I’ve had Belkin devices that were worse. Interestingly, there’s a switch on the back that turns off the wifi – that’s not something I’d ever seen before.

Getting the basic router up and running was straightforward. Turn it on, plug one end of a network cable into a LAN port and connect the other to a PC or laptop.  Open a web browser with http://192.168.2.1/ and login into the router using the provided username and password.

As with all routers, there’s a plethora of sections to go through and configure – basic setup, WAN, LAN, wireless and so on. I’d say the device was well featured without being advanced. For example, the wifi only allows you to setup one SSID and there was no auto setting on the channels, but port forwarding and virtual servers are there too. After I’d set up the wifi, I was able to disconnect the cable and work wirelessly.

As you might guess, the main reason for getting this router was for its 3G functionality. Round the back of the router is a USB port into which a 3G modem dongle can be plugged in. Once connected, the router can share the 3G connection wirelessly. Helpfully, there’s a short USB cable included that can be used to position the dongle for the best reception.

How is this different from a “Mifi” or similar device? First, the Edimax is not battery powered, secondly it has LAN ports and finally it doesn’t have to use 3G all the time. It can be configured to use a DSL or cable modem normally and only fall back to the 3G modem when the modem connections fails.

In this instance I was only interested in a 3G connection. Unfortunately, you can’t plug any old 3G dongle into the 3G-6200n but Edimax provides a compatibility list (zipped pdf). I was using an Huawei E1550 which was listed as being supported and sure enough, it was.  To get the connection to work, I had to configure the APN, username and password for the mobile provider that I was using within the router’s web interface. These details are easily available from the internet via a Google search or the mobile providers website.

I was able to connect using both Three and Vodafone SIMs in the Huawei E1550. Download speeds were usually over 1 Mb/s and less than 2 Mb/s but it varied a good deal depending on how the dongle was positioned. I noticed that the router started and stopped the 3G connection as required so it wasn’t constantly connected. One minor issue with that was that sometimes an initial request for a web page was met with a timeout as the connection hadn’t been made fast enough. Upon refreshing the page, it would be served successfully. This only happened a couple of times and I suspect the problem is more with the mobile phone network being slow to respond than the router.

Overall, I was impressed by the Edimax 3G-6200n and at £40 I think it’s excellent value. If you do need to share a 3G connection, particularly when you need both wired and wireless connections, then this is a good solution. The only downside is that it’s not a portable solution. And finally, remember to check that your 3G dongle is compatible.

GNC-2011-02-14 #647 Simply a Monster Show!

I have no choice but to cut back a little for the next shows. I simply had more news than I could handle tonight and apologize because they came fast and furious at the end, doing no justice to all of the content. But one thing is for sure I deliver your moneys worth on all of the shows lately. Thanks for being part of the Ohana! All of the CES content is posted enjoy it all because their is about 52 hours of content their for your enjoyment.

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Show Notes:
The New 747!
Feds Seize More domains.
Patriot Act Provisions Extended.
Amazon Threatens to leave Texas over Taxes.
Admin says it can spy on you?
Power to the Creator!
Film Studios Pirating own Material!
Username x Sites = Security Risk.
It gets worse for HBGary Federal (idiots)!
Apple and Google are Killing our Companies.
Mobile Penetration.
iPhone Secret Symbols.
Where did Kilogram Originate.
Metered Billing on Hold.
IP Address does not Equal a Person!
Plasma Bullet?
HTML5 pushed to 2014.
Twitter trends Origination Points.
3 New iPhone Styles?
Twitter to cut developers off at knees?
Can Nokia Survive?
Tablets Everywhere but no Apps!
Are Adobe Air and Flash Winning?
Facebook Sim Card!
5 Great VPN’s?
iPhone Telephoto Lense.
The 9th Planet is it out their.
86 Time Lapse Videos.
Mentos and Coke powered Car!
FIOS + Iphone = Savings
Fireworks Hawaiian Style (joking).
Apple kills the Podcast Ping.
Get Styling with Toddygear.
Vivitek 3d Projector.
Sphero Robot Ball.
Link Spam Salesmen.
Zeo Sleep Analysis.
Mini Nuke Power Reactors.
iPhone Voicemail Save Hack.
Qualcomm, Netflix and Android.
USB Crypto Device.
Concept Clock.
Lookee Tv.
Dark Side Detector.
P2P for Good Uses.
isoHunt attacked by Music Industry.
Windows Phone Apps.
Nokia + Microsoft=??
Developer Conference List.
Human versus Computer on Jeopardy.
Brilliant Extension Cable.
Auto feed Shredder.
More Cord Cutting.
Rent versus Own on DVD Front.
Mac App Store plus iTunes.
Dumb and Dumber.
Windows Tip of the day.
Chrome Plugin to block Crappy Search Results.
Facebook Page Designer.
Make a Hotspot with your iPhone.
Geek Dating Tips.
T-Mobile G-Slate hands on.
IE9 Release Candidate will Auto Update.
Windows Phone 7 to get Multitasking.
Multi-Language Foursquare App Update.
NASA spare shuttle flight still a go.
Russian Mars Mission in Moscow.
Whoops where did that tool go.
NASA Budget to get Axe.

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