Time Warner Cable is planning a new approach to pricing for its broadband customers: price by usage, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Of course, many folks would love to see them do this with their pay-cable TV offerings.
Under the plan, being rolled out in south Texas markets first, customers can get a reduction in their bill of $5 per month if they agree to a cap of five gigabytes monthly. If you go over, and be careful if you download a lot of movies or stream a lot (think Netflix), overages are $1 per gig.
Customers will get a three month grace period to figure out if a 5-gig cap really works for them. For us, this isn’t a good deal because $5 isn’t enough to adopt what could be a pretty serious cap for a home with, say, two teens and a work from home adult or a family who loves them some Apple TV. There is so much content going web-based now that, in the future, even if you don’t now, you may be kissing that 5-gig cap pretty quickly.
If you were watching the Oscars Sunday night you may have caught Samsung’s commercial for its intriguing new Smart TV. If you haven’t heard of this next generation of television sets yet, you will.
Smart TV is the baby your computer, smartphone and television set would make if they all hooked up–without the HDMI, DVI or VGA cables. It’s the traditional broadcast box we all know and love, tricked out with Internet capability, apps, gaming, streaming media and social sites. You’ll also hear it called “connected TV” or “Internet-ready TV.”
Most Smart TVs connect to the Internet via an Ethernet cable connection on the back of the unit, but some sets will accept a wireless Internet adapter.
Like smartphones, all Smart TVs include a few bundled apps and feature an app store on the homepage. Don’t expect the sort of expansive selection you’re used to within iTunes and Android marketplaces–but if you want to hear some tunes or rent a movie, there’s a smart TV app for that. Expect to find familiar old chestnuts like Facebook, Twitter, Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube and Pandora, plus weather, sports, gaming and photo apps. A Web browser should loaded as well.
Smart TVs probabaly won’t replace your laptop when you want to email your friends or dash off the next great American teen supernatural fantasy romance novel. But imagine huddling the kids and the dog around the set for a big-screen, long-distance video Skype chat with family and friends. Nice.
Smart TV tech may seem new but it’s hardly fresh off the boat–this technology has slowly been evolving since the mid 1990s. Now that Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sharp have embraced it, it should start really revving up this year. And if Apple TV follows in its company’s usual trailblazing footsteps, expect the Smart TV platform to take over completely.
That said, we wouldn’t rush out just yet to upgrade a unit that’s working fine–not when a Blu-Ray player, laptop or set-top box of your choice can do the same things for far less. But if you’re in the market for a new set and can afford the several hundred dollars more for a smart TV than its conventional counterpart, it may be worth checking out.
We love Angry Birds. We also love outer space. So naturally we were stoked when developer Rovio announced Friday they are shooting the 4th installment of their ticked off birds and smirking pigs into the stratosphere. Yes–Angry Birds Space is coming. And if those piercing bird eyes glaring at us from the promo photos are any indication, this time it’s personal.
On its company website, Rovio declared the latest version of its addictive, swine-flu inspired slingshot diversion will “be the biggest game launch since the original Angry Birds!” The company promises all the familiar bells and whistles couched in “innovative new gameplay,” replete with unexpected new features.
You’ll have to wait till March 22 to get your intergalactic avian fling on but we’ve rooted out a few preliminary details in the meantime.
According to Ben Silverman over at Yahoo Games, players should expect the new elements in this version to be quite unlike anything in the previous games. You probably figured that out already, what with the whole zero-gravity thing and all. It’s hard to imagine how even the most accurately aimed fowl could successfully defeat heavily fortressed pigs when nothing weighs anything, right? Rovio says its developers have taken this into account.
“You’ll be lobbing birds on entirely new planets while contending with zero gravity, leading to new gameplay elements like slow-motion puzzles and “lightspeed” destruction,” Silverman wrote on the Yahoo Games blog. “And just like with other Angry Birds games, expect those outer-space physics to be dead on.” We’re intrigued.
Perhaps most interestingly, NASA and National Geographic will partner with Rovio for its launch of Angry Birds Space.
“We’ll launch simultaneously in mobile gaming, animation, retail and publishing,” Rovio stated. “Not only is this a first for us as an integrated entertainment company, but the first time this has ever been done for a mobile game!”
We wish we could tell you more about what this particular union of science-behemoths-meet-Angry Birds means to you but thus far Rovio is playing coy, with only the cryptic video teaser below available on its dedicated Angry Birds Space website. Sounds educational though, doesn’t it?
For a company known for big announcements via grand press “events,” Apple sent a few shock waves around the tech industry with a simple online press release this week for Mountain Lion, its latest Mac computer operating system (OS).
Like the current Lion and other previous systems, the new Mountain Lion continues the Mac OS feline theme. It’ll be available for purchase from the online Mac App Store in late summer. Pricing? We’re guessing it’ll be the same $30 as the current Lion OS.
And if you’re familiar with iPad and iPhone, which run Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, you’ll have a big head start with Mountain Lion.
Mountain Lion is available today to developers with paid licenses and anyone who has Lion on their computer now can install a beta version of “Messages.” Messages is a new app that will integrate with the popular iMessage chat app on the Apple mobile devices to allow users to switch between text conversations on any Apple device. Note: this messaging system works only for folks who have the current Apple mobile operating system or the beta on their computer. If you’re texting with someone on Android, for example, you won’t be able to leave the phone.
A few other big changes: iCloud is now a big part of Mountain Lion. You can save to iCloud in most apps just like you can to a hard drive. You can also share to places like Twitter and Flickr with a click in most apps. The popular “Notifications” app from iPhone has also been ported over, which sends you instant notifications of activity from apps like mail, Facebook and Twitter.
There’s a lot to take in. We’ve included Apple’s official release after this video.
CUPERTINO, California—February 16, 2012—Apple® today released a developer preview of OS X® Mountain Lion, the ninth major release of the world’s most advanced operating system, which brings popular apps and features from iPad® to the Mac® and accelerates the pace of OS X innovation. Mountain Lion introduces Messages, Notes, Reminders and Game Center to the Mac, as well as Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration and AirPlay® Mirroring. Mountain Lion is the first OS X release built with iCloud® in mind for easy setup and integration with apps. The developer preview of Mountain Lion also introduces Gatekeeper, a revolutionary security feature that helps keep you safe from malicious software by giving you complete control over what apps are installed on your Mac. The preview release of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting today. Mac users will be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store™ in late summer 2012.
“The Mac is on a roll, growing faster than the PC for 23 straight quarters, and with Mountain Lion things get even better,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The developer preview of Mountain Lion comes just seven months after the incredibly successful release of Lion and sets a rapid pace of development for the world’s most advanced personal computer operating system.”
The developer preview of Mountain Lion features the all new Messages app which replaces iChat® and allows you to send unlimited messages, high-quality photos and videos directly from your Mac to another Mac or iOS device. Messages will continue to support AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk. Starting today Lion users can download a beta of Messages from www.apple.com, and the final version will be available with Mountain Lion. Reminders and Notes help you create and track your to-dos across all your devices. Game Center lets you personalize your Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether they’re on a Mac, iPhone®, iPad or iPod touch®.
Mountain Lion presents notifications in an elegant new way, and Notification Center provides easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps. System-wide Share Sheets make it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third party apps. Twitter is integrated throughout Mountain Lion so you can sign on once and tweet directly from Safari®, Quick Look, Photo Booth®, Preview and third party apps. Mountain Lion also introduces AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV®.
More than 100 million users have iCloud accounts, and Mountain Lion makes it easier than ever to set up iCloud and access documents across your devices. Mountain Lion uses your Apple ID to automatically set up Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime® and Find My Mac. The new iCloud Documents pushes any changes to all your devices so documents are always up to date, and a new API helps developers make document-based apps work with iCloud.
Gatekeeper is a revolutionary new security feature that gives you control over which apps can be downloaded and installed on your Mac. You can choose to install apps from any source, just as you do on a Mac today, or you can use the safer default setting to install apps from the Mac App Store, along with apps from developers that have a unique Developer ID from Apple. For maximum security, you can set Gatekeeper to only allow apps from the Mac App Store to be downloaded and installed.
Mountain Lion also has features specifically designed to support Chinese users, including significant enhancements to the Chinese input method and the option to select Baidu search in Safari. Mountain Lion makes it easy to set up Contacts, Mail and Calendar with top email service providers QQ, 126 and 163. Chinese users can also upload video via Share Sheets directly to leading video websites Youku and Tudou, and system-wide support for Sina weibo makes microblogging easy.
Hundreds of new APIs give developers access to new core technologies and enhanced features within OS X. The Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, making it possible to create multiplayer games that work across Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. A new graphics infrastructure underpins OpenGL and OpenCL and implements GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, to make it easier to create OpenGL apps. Using Core Animation in Cocoa apps is easier than ever, and new video APIs deliver modern 64-bit replacements for low-level QuickTime APIs. Enhanced Multi-Touch™ APIs give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced mitigation against buffer overflow attacks.
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.
With all the hot news of the iPad 3 being announced March 7, it got us to thinking, what features would we like to see Apple include in its latest tablet? We’re skipping the improved screen, since it seems very likely the next iPad will have a super resolution “Retina Display” similar to the iPhone 4 and 4S.
So here’s our list:
1. USER SWITCHING: Yes, we know Apple would love to have households where there is one iPad per every four humans, but let’s be honest, it’s not realistic, especially in this economy. And how comfortable are parents letting their teens or tweens take the iPad into their rooms for long periods of time with Mom and Dads email, texts and other personal info on them? Not us.
Why not just add a user switching mode on the iPad that loads up each person’s profile, like on a computer?
2. iMESSAGE IMPROVEMENT: Right now, it’s complex and hard to get iMessage to work the way you really want it to. You want anyone who uses Apple’s new operating system for mobile devices, iOS5, to be able to text you and those texts show up on iPad and iPhone. Well, it doesn’t work that way.
You can’t get texts to a phone number on your iPad directly. People have to text your email address. Is there a way to make all texts to your phone number show up on iPad and iPhone? If it is, that would be awful sweet.
3. BETTER CAMERAS: The iPad 2’s cameras, contrary to popular opinion, aren’t terrible for the average user. We’ve been pretty well satisfied with the images and videos it produces, but it does need an upgrade. The iPhone 4S camera is so good we’ve just about given up on the good ol’ pocket shooter. Not many people are using the iPad as a primary camera, but hey, the best camera is the one you have, right? And we see a whole lot of folks out there with iPads simply attached to them like an extra limb.
4. BETTER HARDWARE: The new iPad needs to be lighter with a more durable back (and while we’re at it, can we get a new SmartCover that also covers the rear?). The current iPad is prone to scratches back there. The battery life is great on iPad, but we can always use more. And what about wireless charging? Are we there yet? We will likely see a speed and graphics bump with an expected A6 processing chip, too.
5. SIRI: It’s funny that bloggers seem to want to bash Siri or say they don’t use it. Siri is a serious leap ahead for cellphone tech and it belongs on the iPad. The list of things you can do with Siri’s voice recognition technology is long. And if nothing else, it’s a time saver, answering questions, setting reminders or alarms and calling someone for you. The whole reading your text in the car thing was enough to give it the Arthur Fonzarelli thumbs up. On iPad 3, make no mistake, Siri will (er would) rock.
The Wall Street Journal has added the most credible weight to the rumors of something we kind of knew was coming all along.
The newspaper and web outlets were abuzz today when credible sources began to say that we can expect Apple to unveil iPad 3 at a media event March 7. The WSJ said the new iPad, expected to carry a super high resolution screen, will also operate on AT&T’s and Verizon’s high speed 4G/LTE cellular networks.
Given Apple’s usually predictable cycle, the past iPhone 4S not included, we generally knew we’d see an iPad announcement sometime in March. We also expected a high resolution screen and 4G. Still, Apple fans are probably happy to get some more concrete information on the next iPad.
For many users, the 4G equipped iPad will cruise the Internet at higher speeds than they get from the cable or DSL Internet connections and provide some serious speed on the go.
Given the iPhone 4 and 4S are not 4G devices, users who use the WiFi hotspot functionality of their phone, paying an upcharge to use the phones Internet connection to power up to five other devices, may reconsider their choice. The advantage to the hotspot is you can also power, say, your laptop in an area that doesn’t have WiFi, but if you only mostly power up your iPad with Internet, wouldn’t you want to have faster Internet?
Of course, we need to see pricing first.
The Journal said when a 4G signal isn’t present, the new iPad 3 will “fall back” to 3G technologies.
The Wall Street Journal dropped an interesting news item today that Google is planning a new wireless home entertainment solution that will stream music throughout the home.
Google Inc. is developing a home-entertainment system that streams music wirelessly throughout the home and would be marketed under the company’s own brand, according to people briefed on the company’s plans.
The effort marks a sharp shift in strategy for Google, which for the first time would design and market consumer electronic devices under its name. The company has mainly focused on developing the Android operating system that powers devices such as smartphones, tablets and televisions. It has also allowed other companies to build and brand the hardware that uses it.
The WSJ says the new system will be based on Google’s popular Android platform and is a part of a long, multi-year development cycle. Google’s system would use wireless speakers to deliver the music throughout the home. We hope the system can also stream video and photos.
AllThingsD reports today that Apple plans to introduce iPad 3 during the first week in March. The news conference will be held in San Francisco.
Most reports peg the iPad 3 (or whatever Apple chooses to name it) will feature a high-definition screen similar to the screen on the iPhone 4 and 4S. Those screens were a huge jump in clarity over previous iterations of the popular smartphone.
The new iPad is also expected to use a new version of Apple’s computer chip, which helps power the device and improved graphics.
Chicago kicked off the media portion of its auto show yesterday and will open up to the public with a charity fundraiser tonight. Some of the debuts, such as Acura’s ILX and revamped RDX, were concepts at last month’s Detroit show and are now in production trim. Here’s some good stuff so far:
Acura’s RDX concept is now the real thing and looks much like the concept vehicle shown here. Ironically, the RDX replaces the turbo I-4 engine with a 3.5-liter V6 and will get better gas mileage – roughly around 28 miles per gallon on the highway.
It also gets a horsepower bump to 273, 33 more than the outgoing engine. The new RDX is wider and longer and gets a six-speed transmission. The all-wheel drive system is lighter and the five passenger interior is much more elegant. A host of new technologies including Pandora internet radio interface, SMS text message feature, a smart entry keyless access system, pushbutton start, and a three view rear camera.
Ford tweaks the Taurus with an optional 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine, the first car in it’s North American lineup to get such. It’s also built in Chicago so traffic should be heavy at the booth. The engine makes 237 horsepower and 250 pounds-feet of torque. That’s fairly healthy considering it will deliver at least 31 miles to the gallon on the highway. You can still get the 3.5-liter V6 which ups performance, making 290 hp and 255 lb.-ft. of torque. You can get all-wheel drive to the V6 model. There was no mention of the SHO version in the press material. All models offer an improved MyFord Touch, a more muscular hood, heated steering wheel, LED taillights, Sony sound system and park assist. The trunk will gobble up 20.1 cubic feet of stuff.
Hyundai’s Genesis coupe was aimed squarely at Mustang and Camaro buyers and did well. It looked the part of a sports coupe and gets a newly enhanced fascia, grill, headlights and hood. Under the comely hood is either a 2.0-liter turbo four with 271 hp or a 3.8-liter V6 that bumps the fun to 348 horses and nearly 300 pounds-feet of torque. A six speed manual or an eight (8) speed automatic with paddle shifters is available. Eighteen or 19-inch tires are available along with Hyundai’s proprietary telematics platform, Blue Link, which will give owners a variety of infotainment services.
Acura will receive a lot of grief for the ILX. Most have dubbed it a Civic in Acura clothing. True, it does borrow liberally from the Civic but not in a bad way. I think this is slightly larger and the engines are tweaked. That is unless you get the hybrid, a first for Acura, which is lifted right out of the Civic. It’s also built at a Honda plant, not the first time for an Acura. This may not be a new Integra, but it will add to Acura’s bottom line. It’s attractive, will be the lest expensive thing it sells and, well, looks like an Acura.The ILX will feature a well-appointed interior that, ummm looks a lot like the Civic’s but includes a smart entry keyless access system and pushbutton start, along with Pandora internet radio and SMS text message function. Hey, it’s built in the US at a plant in Indiana.
The Dodge Dart was featured at the Detroit show but I have a little more info. It’s the first Chrysler Group vehicle based upon Fiat’s architecture – adapted from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. I’ve seen the Giulietta in pictures and it may still come to the US but until then the Dart will do nicely. Five trim levels will be available: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T. Drivers can select from three different four-cylinder powerplants – the Tigershark 2.0-liter; a 1.4L MultiAir Intercooled Turbo and a new Tigershark 2.4-liter MultiAir engine. Horsepower and torque ratings range from 160hp/145lb.ft. to 184hp/171lb.ft. Any of these engines can be matched to a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic or dual dry clutch six-speed automatic transmission. It is said to have responsive steering, a four-wheel independent suspension and available 18-inch wheels.The colors – Header Orange, Blue Streak, Winter Chill, and Citrus Peel – sound a bit much but we’ll see.