AT&T offers data sharing plans, but are they good for you?

Today, AT&T joined Verizon in offering shared data plans to its customers. Essentially, you will buy a bucket of data (used for emails, surfing web, watching videos) and share that among up to 10 mobile devices. Consider your mobile devices to be cars and consider data as that gas that fuels them.

You fill up each month and then burn it out.

So is sharing data a good thing? Potentially if you have a number of devices under one account.

Verizon announced a switch to shared data in June and its customers can currently opt for it. AT&T customers can switch in August. Existing customers can switch or stay on current plans without affecting their contracts. Existing customers can even purchase a new phone under a new contract and not be forced to switch.

The issue with either plan is if you’re an individual user, particularly one with multiple devices like a tablet and a smartphone.

Currently, on AT&T, if you have, say, a Samsung tablet and a Samsung phone, you would pay $120 per month to give the tablet online access and give your phone 3 gigs of data plus unlimited texting and 450 minutes of anytime calling. Remember, AT&T offers free calling mobile-to-mobile calls from any provider, so 450 minutes of anytime calling plus unlimited nights and weekends is about all anyone would need.

Under the new plan, that same user would pay $90 for unlimited minutes and texts and 6 gigs of data — the same amount he brought previously for his phone and tablet combined. Adding the now required $35 for phone access and $10 for tablet access, and his total bill climbs to $135. That’s $15 more than under the old system.

Of course, that user could opt for less data. Dropping to 4 gigs shared reduces his bill $5, but still the new plan doesn’t cut it for the solo user.

If you have multiple devices, this plan could be somewhat advantageous.

Under AT&T’s current plan, a family with three smartphone users would pay $70 for the phones per month, plus $90 in required data to power them. Add in $30 for family unlimited texting and you’re looking at $190. If one of them has a tablet, add another $30 for tablet access for three gigabytes. That’s $220.

(Quick note here, AT&T offers cheaper data options, $20 per month per device for 300 megabytes for data, but for most users this will not be enough, particularly as we move to 4G LTE networks that offer faster data speeds).

Now, let’s look at the same scenario with shared plans:

Under the new shared data plan, the same family could pay $35 each for each of the three smartphones, $90 for 6 gigs of shared data and $10 for tablet access to that shared data. Now you have unlimited calls and texts plus the shared data for $205. If you want to bring another tablet online, it’s another $10 instead of another $30.

And if that 6 gigs wasn’t enough data, that same family could move up to 10 gigs of shared data. AT&T charges $120 for 10 gigs instead of $90 for 6 gigs, but the price to access it per smartphone drops to $30 from $35.

So for our family of three, the effective price to jump to 10 gigs is $15.

A few things to remember: if you use up all your data and go over, AT&T will bill you $15 per gigabyte. If you don’t use it all, AT&T will not roll over the data into next month. It’s just gone. One other thing. Currently, AT&T charges to allow customers to use their cellphones as “hotspots” to provide data to WiFi only devices. The ability to use a device as a hotspot is included in the Mobile Share plan.

Is all of this for you? We think you have to crunch the numbers, but for multi-use families, we think it’s worth serious consideration.

Below is the full press release from AT&T

AT&T* customers will soon have more options in choosing the plan that’s right for them and their mobile devices. With new AT&T Mobile Share plans, available in late August, new and existing customers can share a single bucket of data across smartphones, tablets, and other compatible devices, plus get unlimited talk and text. AT&T Mobile Share plans make it easy for customers to manage their data, voice minutes and texting, without needing to keep track of multiple plans.

Customers can select one of the new shared data plans or choose one of AT&T’s existing individual or family plans. Current customers are not required to switch to the new plans, but can choose to do so without a contract extension. There are no changes to AT&T’s device upgrade policy, which means customers eligible to upgrade to AT&T’s best device price are not required to switch plans. The new plans will also be available for business customers.

With AT&T Mobile Share plans, customers start by choosing how much data they want each month, then choose up to 10 devices to attach to their shared plan, one of which must be a smartphone. Each plan includes tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones and basic or quick messaging phones. The larger the data bucket you choose, the less you pay per gigabyte and the less you pay for each smartphone added to the shared plan

First, choose your monthly data amount.

Per Month

Mobile Share with Unlimited Talk & Text

1 GB

$40

+

$45

4 GB

$70

+

$40

6 GB

$90

+

$35

10 GB

$120

+

$30

15 GB

$160

+

$30

20 GB

$200

+

$30

Each Smartphone

Additional data: $15 per GB

 

Next, add more devices to your plan.

Basic and quick messaging phones

Laptops, LaptopConnect cards, and netbooks

Tablets and gaming devices

$30 each per month

$20 each per month

$10 each per month

 

AT&T Mobile Share allows customers to essentially build a plan to fit their devices and usage. Customers who are more data-centric can choose a larger data bucket. Customers who typically use more voice than data can add multiple smartphones and basic phones and opt for a smaller data bucket.

“We offer customers a broad choice and the best lineup of plans, now enhanced by Mobile Share,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility. “With these new plans, the more you share, the more you save. They’ll be a good fit for a variety of new and existing customers. But if customers want to stay on their current plan or choose from our existing plans, they can do that, too. It’s their choice.

“Today we think of people’s smartphones and tablets sharing a bucket of data. But in the future we’ll see health care monitors, connected cars, security systems and other devices in the home all connected to the mobile Internet,” said Christopher. “Our Mobile Share plans are simple, easy and a great value for individuals or families with multiple mobile Internet devices.”

Mobile Share plans give customers more control over how, where and on what device they use data — which has become more important as people use more data devices. You can choose to use more of your data bucket on your tablet, for example, or tap into your data bucket only when needed for devices you use occasionally. And by consolidating data plans, you can take advantage of any data you currently have unused each month by efficiently sharing it across devices.

“The ‘more you share, the more you save’ concept is one that will resonate well with customers because of the value provided through the Mobile Share data plans themselves and in smartphone connection fees,” said Roger Entner, Founder and Lead Analyst of Recon Analytics. “AT&T also is providing its customers with flexibility and choice by keeping its existing data plans and not requiring customers to move to Mobile Share unless they want to. It’s a win-win for both AT&T and its customers.”

To help customers track their data usage, AT&T keeps users informed with courtesy alerts as they near their data allowance for the month. Also, customers can check their usage at anytime online, through the myAT&T mobile app, or by calling *DATA# from their mobile phone.

Each data plan also includes access to more than 30,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots — the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network** among wireless carriers — at no additional charge. Wi-Fi usage at public hotspots, home or office does not count toward the monthly wireless data plan usage.

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Verizon’s 4-inch Droid Incredible is a return to yesterday — without enough jazz

I was excited when the Verizon folks in Greenville, S.C., sent me the new Droid Incredible smartphone this week. As many Android phones are nearly five inches big now, and probably too big for many consumers to use with one hand effectively, here we have a return to yesteryear (or in smartphone years, a return to last week):

The HTC Droid Incredible is a 4-inch handset with a nice rubberized feel to the back which is easy to grip. Everyone I let use the phone loved how it felt it in the hand, loved how their thumbs could cover the entire screen, even if the overwhelming opinion was the screen wasn’t quite wide enough. The 8 megapixel camera takes some gorgeous shots, on par with many phones we’ve tested this year. There’s a camera on the front for video calls.

Holding it and using it feels like using an old friend. We need smaller smartphones. Has anyone held the new Galaxy S III? Great device, but for some people, like me, it’s just too big and I have larger than normal hands.

Now that not-so-good. I’m not sure why the Incredible uses a 1.2 gigahertz processor when other top phones from HTC like the One use 1.5s. I’m not complaining too much because the Incredible breezed through most stuff I tried to throw at it. It ran the Ice Cream Sandwich software well, even with another layer of operating system on top of it, HTC’s Sense.

The thing that got me, though, was the screen. It’s just not sharp enough. Specs wise it has 960 x 540 resolution. That’s not high-def or retina or whatever term we’re using these days. Bottom line? It just doesn’t look as good as the other phones you can spend your $200 on (plus two-year contract). It looks like the old Droids from yesteryear. That’s not a good thing.

Everything else is groovy. It’s a great size and it looks good and we’ve not talked about Verizon’s (still) screaming 4G LTE network. I was getting download speeds of 17 megabits per second and uploads of nearly 7. Most people don’t get that on their home cable or DSL networks, and we’re fans of Verizon’s new shared data usage plans, too, so long as you have more than one phone in service.

So if the larger phones aren’t your thing and you want Android, this could be an option for you. The only thing you’re really giving up is that pretty screen that so much of the competition has. If that’s too much, just grab a big Android and use two hands.

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Motorola’s Motoactv is a watch, an MP3 player, a trainer and a heckuva good golf GPS, too

One of the biggest words in tech today is convergence. It means, essentially, that people are tired of carrying four or five devices and want tech gadgets that can perform multiple tasks.

It’s a big reason why smartphones like those from Apple (iPhone) and those phones running Google’s Android software are selling like mad: they can do a little of everything.

And so can Motorola’s Motoactv Golf Edition ($299.99). The large red and black watch isn’t going to win any fashion contests, but it does get stares and questions. Young people actually loved it.

“Dude,” one guy told me at the mall, “I gotta get myself one of those. Way cool.”

(True story)

Well, it’s not just a watch. You can remove the square device (it looks rather iPod Nano like) and attach it to a belt clip or a wrist watch style holder. I preferred the wrist watch and found the belt clip hard to insert to and extra hard to remove from.

But the first thing that struck me about the Motoactv was the earbuds. They’re red and “sit” in your ear. If you’re used to running, or walking, with your iPhone and those little white earbuds keep popping out, well, these won’t do that nearly as often. Although it’s a little weird running around with the cord attaching to your wrist, these worked well and the cord is long enough for your arm to swing, and the sound is fine, too (I eventually just stuck my “watch” in my pocket). And when I got done, the watch told me how far I’d gone and how many calories I’d burned. It will automatically load your data onto a special online portal to track your habits.

Yes, that’s sort of like the stuff you get on those smartphone apps.

And as an mP3 player, Motoactv is just as good as about anything else, and it’s easy to upload music for.

Besides playing uploaded music, the watch also has an FM radio (reception is so-so) and a GPS tracker built in that tracks time, distance and speed. It’s got 16 gigs of storage, so you can get all the Rihanna or Lady Gaga on there you care to. The 1.6 inch screen is small but hey you’re not playing games on this.

The reason I was interested in the watch wasn’t all the other things it could do, though. I was interested in it as a golf GPS. Smartphones can also do golf course GPS, of course, telling you how far you need to hit your ball to reach the green or how far you have to trouble. Problem is, smartphone batteries drain very fast when you’re using these kinds of apps. We’re talking insanely fast here. Trust us, this is not a task for your phone.

There are stand alone devices that do the job very well like SkyCaddie, but then you have another smartphone-sized device in your pocket.

What’s cool about Motoactv is it’s a watch on your wrist. You forget you have it on until you look down and check the time, er, check how far you have left to reach that par 5 in two.

Motorola says the watch will work on more than 20,000 courses worldwide. I had no trouble in a few courses around Charlotte. There’s also a virtual caddy that tracks your scores, clubs used and other key stats. There’s an online clubhouse to share your scores (not that I want to post that 91) but I very much enjoyed the tech and look-down-at-your-arm ease of use. I own a SkyCaddy and both devices were close on yardages and the watch was easier to wear than the SkyCaddy was to carry around. I usually leave the SkyCaddy in the cart or sticking out of my push cart if I’m walking.

Good news about the Motoactv: I won’t leave it at the club. I’ve done that with SkyCaddy before.

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Amazon launches “GameCircle,” plans possible 4 or 5 inch smart phone

Amazon announced its getting serious about mobile gaming today with the launch of GameCircle, which will allow gamers using Kindle Fire and Amazon services on the computer to track high game scores, invite others to play and track achievements.

Another feature of GameCircle will be “Sync,” which will automatically save a players’ in-game progress to the Amazon cloud hard drive in the sky. So users can pick up Doodle Jump exactly where they left off when switching devices or even restoring a deleted game.

“We are thrilled to be part of Amazon’s GameCircle with Temple Run,” said Keith Shepherd, Co-founder of Imangi Studios. “The new service is a great way to keep our fans engaged by offering them more opportunities to play the game, and an intuitive platform to connect with new players.”

“Sync is a wonderful addition to Triple Town,” said David J Edery, CEO of Spry Fox. “It guarantees that Kindle Fire users will not lose their active game or their hard-earned coins if they replace their Fire, or if they must uninstall and reinstall Triple Town for whatever reason. It also enables multiple-device owners to transfer their game from one device to another—something we think gamers will love.”

Here’s official info from Amazon:

GameCircle will make achievements, leaderboards and sync APIs accessible, simple and quick for you to integrate, and will give gamers a more seamless and entertaining in-game experience. To sign up for access, go to http://amazon.com/gamecircle-signup.

GameCircle achievements allow players to track all earned trophies, treasures, badges, awards, and more without leaving the gaming experience. Players can receive in-game messages to keep track of accolades earned in real-time or pause and view an achievements summary to check earned collections and determine what badges are still needed, before returning to gameplay.

GameCircle leaderboards provide an in-game view of score comparison information and percentile ranking, allowing players to quickly and easily check standings against top players or competitors, without ever leaving your game.

Sync automatically saves a player’s in-game progress to the cloud and allows them to pick-up exactly where they left off when restoring a deleted game or switching devices. Players will not have to worry about losing progress, scores or achievements between Kindle Fire devices, as all data is securely stored in the cloud.

Also today, Market Watch provided some insight into a possible 4 or 5 inch Amazon smartphone that’s rumored to be in development. The report says Amazon is working with Asian component suppliers to test the phone and that production could begin in late 2012 or early 2013.

A smartphone from Amazon would spur more competition in the already crowded market. While Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co.’s flagship Galaxy handsets continue to dominate the lucrative high-end segment, the overall smartphone market is expanding rapidly with many players offering new models that are diverse in terms of sizes, technological features and prices.

Market Watch quoted a source saying the new Amazon smartphone will be between four or five inches. Several phones running the Google operating system are more than 4 inches, including the new Samsung Galaxy III, which is 4.8 inches. Apple’s new iPhone, due this fall, is expected to enjoy an increased screen size boost from 3.5 inches to at least 4 inches.

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An iPhone 5 you wear on your hand?

Ciccarese design has released a new video of their version of a concept of an Apple iOS device users might wear on their wrists. There have been rumors of groups of folks at Apple’s headquarters working on such a device. Of course, they’re probably working on all kinds of things out there in Cupertino, Calif, including 7.85 inch iPads.

We submit for your approval:
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Can a pair of sneakers really change your life? If they’re Nike Free, maybe just maybe


Recently, I pulled my calf muscle playing basketball. I’ve pulled many muscles before but this was a different kind of pain. Couldn’t walk much. Took me darn near 30 minutes to limp from the parking lot to the doctor’s office. Diagnosis? Grade II strain. Basically you’re out a month.

A week later, the wife and I are celebrating the anniversary and she offers to buy me a pair of shoes. I’ve been hearing about these Nike Frees and Nike Free Runs for ages. A buddy says it’s like wearing a sock and once let me slide my foot into his. It felt OK, but I didn’t really walk around much.

Now, at the store, I try one on and it feels like nothing I’ve worn before. It’s soft, instantly comfortable. Nearly barefoot but with a softer ride. I instantly wanted these. So, a $105 credit card transaction later, I had a new pair of black Nike Free Runs and they’ve quickly become my favorite shoe.

When I put them on the next day, my calf pain was less when wearing them. I couldn’t explain it and still can’t. Call it mental. When I put on my old shoes or several pairs of them, there’s more pain. With the Frees, there’s less pain. Perhaps it’s because the Frees are more designed to mimic walking or running barefoot. It’s really akin to wearing your favorite pair of slippers all day, just like my friend said. They’re also available in quite a few bright colors, just like my friend said.

I’ve not tried the Vibram Five Fingers or the adidas versions where the shoes have individual toe inserts, but these Frees are my favorite shoes now. And it’s not like Nike needs a big hit or anything. The company has just taken over NFL apparel needs. Every basketball player seems to want to wear Nike and of course, speaking of basketball, they’ve got the Jordan Brand, so named for Michael Jeffrey Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever.

And in June, Nike reported its fourth quarter revenue was up 12 percent — to $6.5 billion.

That’s a whole lotta shoes.

I suspect a good many of them are Nike Frees, which launched in 2004 and now come in three versions:

*Nike Free Run+3: Features the innovative Dynamic Fit construction, wrapping the arch and helping to eliminate the space between the foot and the shoe for a glove-like fit. A seamless upper provides lightweight support and ventilation where needed most.

*Nike Free 4.0: Modified siping helps inch this shoe closer to barefoot. A seamless upper and molded sock liner that follows the curvature of the foot provide a great fit and enhance comfort and support.

*Nike Free 3.0: Additional siping in the arch and a seamless lightweight upper help make this the closest Nike running shoe to barefoot for foot strengthening and flexibility. Pods of solid rubber in high wear areas enhance durability and traction.

For me, these are the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned. When I heal, I can’t wait to walk and run in these. I have a flat foot and usually wear some wide, firm bottomed shoes to keep my feet from over pronating (rolling inward too much). I may still need that, but as I’m getting around a little more gingerly than normal, I’m really enjoying my Nike Frees.

Just wished Nike didn’t only make them, outside of black, in all those bright colors.

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Cartoon for ABC app held kids learn the alphabet on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

A new iOS app, Cartoon for ABC, promises to help young kids learn their alphabet on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches.

Cartoon ABC is an interactive alphabet-teaching app that works well for toddlers and preschoolers. Stunning illustrations, amusing animation, relaxing melodies, and charming characters coming to life with a tap all make part of Cartoon ABC. With the help of the app kids are able to learn the letters of the alphabet, the way they sound in a word, and several words starting with each letter. All this is presented in a fun way and enjoyable manner.

We haven’t tested the game, but we appreciate all companies who are trying to bring some educational activities for kids to the iOS family. This one is $1.99

Here’s the full release:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cartoon ABC for iOS – Your Child’s First Step to Reading

Holmdel, NJ – Kid’s Academy Company is proud to announce the release and immediate availability of Cartoon ABC, their first educational and interactive app for kids aged 2-5. Designed for both iPad and iPhone Cartoon ABC guides young explorers through the exciting world of letters, sounds, and words and helps them make their first steps in reading.

Cartoon ABC involves preschoolers into game-like alphabet learning with 100+ amusing animations, 70+ charming characters, exquisite design, and original sounds. They are able to learn individual letters and how each letter is used within a word. With Cartoon ABC kids will also develop their memory and motor skills, as wells as learn to associate a visual image of an object with its spelling and the way it sounds. As a result of using Cartoon ABC young users will memorize the letters of the alphabet, remember the words that start with a corresponding letter, recognize the way the words get written, and have fun.

A child friendly navigation allows kids to be entirely in control of their learning experience. They can pick any flash card and play it as many times as they want. Each word has fun animations that come to life with a tap. It’s an attractive and colorful approach of introducing the alphabet to children.

Parents will appreciate the educational value of the app and a specially designed Parents Area. It serves not only as a place to change settings and add profiles; it also helps parents monitor their children’s progress in learning the alphabet through the progress chart. It shows how many times each letter has been played, which letter has been played last, and which letter has been overlooked. Parents will also like the way developers care about children’s privacy: the app does not contain neither in-app purchases, nor ads, and is not integrated with any social networks.

Cartoon ABC is created with the help of the state-of-the-art-technology. HTML5, the most mobile ready programming language for developing apps, allows Kid’s Academy’s IT specialists to embed rich content, such as video, audio, high quality drawings, and animation without using any plug-ins and third party components. As a result, Cartoon ABC’s size is slightly bigger than 25MB, which makes it fast to download. Cartoon ABC designers used highly scalable vector images which makes the app look sharp on the whole range of Apple devices – iPhone, iPod touch, and the new iPad with Retina display.

“We wanted to create a high quality application that is educational as well as entertaining for kids and for their parents. Our ultimate goal is to develop a whole series of worthy applications that will help kids get ready for school,” says Alex Shingel, CEO at Kid’s Academy Company.

Device requirements
* Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
* Requires iOS 4.2 or later
* 25 MB

Pricing and availability
Cartoon ABC ($1.99 USD or other equivalent currencies) is a universal application available on the App Store in the Education category (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cartoon-abc/id528233122?ls=1&mt=8). The release is celebrated with a 50% discount.
For press materials please use the following link to download the media assets: https://www.dropbox.com/s/zw1vwgstzkl7sgx/Media_Kit.zip

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Ticketbud app relaunches, promises easy online ticket sales to your events

Need to sell online tickets to your event, big or small?

Newly relaunched Ticketbud thinks it’s got the perfect solution for your needs. It promises flat fee pricing, which starts at $39.99 for a single day event with no fees for guests.

Further, the company said it can suit any size event “from large music festivals to small high school reunions.” And any cancer-related event gets the service for fee.

More info below in the press release:

ONLINE TICKETING SERVICE TICKETBUD ANNOUNCES
RELAUNCH AND FEEL-GOOD FLAT FEE TICKET PRICING

FREE SERVICE FOR ALL EVENTS BENEFITTING CANCER CHARITIES & ORGANIZATIONS

AUSTIN, TX (July 5, 2012)  TICKETBUD is announcing today the relaunch of their one-of-a-kind ticketing service that empowers anyone to affordably sell tickets online to their event. Finally, a ticketing company you can feel good about.

Ticketbud lets event organizers set ticket prices at face value  free of surcharges  with its flat fee pricing structure; eliminating the habitual practice of passing these fees on to ticket buyers. Ticketbud’s philosophy is that event organizers should have an opportunity to establish long-term relationships with their supporters and keep all the funds for their cause.

“Our core values are simplicity and working for people fairly. We don’t believe there’s a legitimate reason to add additional fees to ticket sales, or pass those on to the customer. Why do that when, for a simple, flat fee per event, you can sell unlimited tickets?” Paul Cross, Founder

Ticketbud allows you to sell UNLIMITED tickets to your event for one flat fee. Ticketbud’s pricing is $39.99 for a single-day event; $74.99 for a two-day event; $109.00 for a 3-30-day event; and for $149.99 you get a monthly subscription and unlimited events per month. Event organizers receive funds directly into their account as tickets sell, giving immediate access to ticket proceeds, rather than waiting after the event has ended.

With this relaunch, Ticketbud presents a number of unique features including Sponsorbud, which seamlessly integrates sponsorships onto the event page, helping event organizers raise event more proceeds with little to no effort and is the first of its kind in the market.

In addition to self-service online ticketing, Ticketbud provides event promotion and publishing to social media outlets, email invitations to guests, the ability to capture marketing data for future events, a true Private Label service, international currencies, free bar-coded ticket scanner applications available on iPhone and Android and more.

Since its launch in 2007, Ticketbud has provided its box office service worldwide to events of all kinds, everything from the Rocky Mountain Airshow in Bloomfield, CO to Austin Fashion Week in Austin, TX to the Forfey Festival in Northern Ireland. Ticketbud’s flat-fee model continues to gain market share for events of all size and category.

Everyone has a cause they believe in, for Ticketbud it’s cancer research and relief. In the activist spirit Ticketbud provides its box office software “free of charge” to any and all cancer-related events worldwide. Users can feel good about ticketing, knowing they support a good cause.

For more information on Ticketbud and to register your event and get started, go to www.ticketbud.com. Follow them on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/ticketbud and on Twitter @Ticketbud.

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A major Malware virus to hit the Internet Monday; here’s how to be safe

Monday, July 9, has been called “Internet Doomsday” because there is a chance to that several hundreds of thousands of users won’t be able to use the internet then.

Why?

Well, a group of international hackers ran an online advertising scam and took control of more than a half million computers around the world once they became infected. The FBI went after the hackers in late 2011, only to find out if they turned off the bad servers that were being used to control those computers, the infected users wouldn’t be able to access the Internet.

So the FBI set up some clean servers to serve those infected machines, but as the FBI doesn’t want to be America Online, it’s shutting down those servers Monday and those infected users will lose online access. There have been plenty of online warnings to users to check and clean their machines. Still, as of Friday, the FBI is saying nearly 300,000 computers worldwide and about 65,000 in the United States are still affected.

The FBI servers go off at 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 9. If you cannot access the net then, contact your service providers for details.

Meanwhile, there’s a simple way to check to see if you are in trouble.

People whose computers are still infected Monday will lose their ability to go online, and they will have to call their service providers for help deleting the malware and reconnecting to the Internet. Some providers, like Comcast, have already contacted customers it detected to be in trouble. Facebook and Google have had similar warning systems.

To check whether your computer is infected, visit a website run by the group brought in by the FBI: http://www.dcwg.org.

 

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Ford bullish on 2013 Taurus restyle, options

2013 Taurus Limited AWD

Ford set the automotive industry on its collective ear when it introduced the 1986 Taurus sedan in late 1985.

The chiefs at the other car companies dismissed it as being too radical and the public wouldn’t go for it. Wrong. It was a huge hit, so much so that others tried to follow too quickly and came up with messes and misses.

By the 2000s every company had gotten it right and the Taurus was an afterthought. It was clunky, chunky and oh so not funky anymore.

Not to worry. Ford revamped the sedan some years ago, moving it from midsize to full-size and the Taurus is back on buyer’s radar.

The 2013 Taurus has been tweaked with several goodies to make it more desirable.

If you want fuel efficiency go for the new turbo four-cylinder with 225 horses and 250 pounds feet of torque. That will get you 31 miles per gallon on the highway.

Want more oomph? The SHO has 365 horses and 350 lbs-feet of torque.

Or you could go with my test car, the all wheel drive limited with the 3.5-liter V6 which has 290 hp and 255 ft-lbs of torque. That’s the engine most will get and it’s a good one. It’s smooth and efficient and hooked to an exhaust system that sounds great. It returns 18 mpg city and 26 on the highway. Not bad numbers for a large car.

The AWD system, the engine and the six-speed transmission work well together. The car does, at times, feel as big as it is. Ford has taken care most of the problems this year, keeping the car from lumbering around drifting. The SHO kills even more of that feeling, but the limited is still all most will ever need.

The exterior has a new grill, front and rear fenders and taillights. The grill is larger with smaller slats. Wheels are new as well. The overall look is more grown up and handsome.

Upgrades to the cabin are welcomed, thank you

The cabin has been spruced with better looking and feeling materials. The door handles, center console and dash are more elegant, while the seats are really comfortable and cool – literally. The front seats are heated and cooled.

There’s much tech. The Ford MyTouch system has been improved greatly, though it can still be tricky. I’m still sold on the SYNC system which lets you voice command your way through the nicely done infotainment system. An optional package gives you blind-spot warning, cross traffic warning and adaptive cruise control with pre-collision warning. The ubiquitous backup camera is standard on the limited.

On the highway the Taurus proves to be a champ at offering a comfortable and compliant ride. It doesn’t float, but there is the feel of luxury. The V6 offers good passing power and will move you down the highway with authority. Again, that big-as-I-am feeling creeps in from time to time, but it doesn’t spoil the party.

Would I buy a new Taurus? If I needed this much space, sure. It’s a good-looking, well rounded sedan that will seat five and hold all the luggage on a trip (there’s 15 cubic feet of trunk space). If you need more space and have fewer passenger, the 60/40 split rear bench gives you even more options. It’s stylish but not short on substance.

The Taurus limited starts at $34,850. With the mountain of options added my test car, finished in a nifty kodiak brown with charcoal leather interior, was tested at $41,135.

That’s a little on the hefty side but you can trim some of the options or step down to the SEL if you don’t need AWD. If this is in your ballpark, go for it. The Taurus is well done.

 

cross@alldaytech.com

 

 

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