Friday, September 5, 2008

Updated Top 10 Best Smart Phones to buy in the tech market today

Updated Top 10 Best Smart Phones to buy in the tech market today

With the release of the latest Apple iPhone 3G Mobile, almost all smart phones makers out there rush back to their engineering department and came out with something to either chink or scratch the mighty marketing armor of the iPhone, let's take a closer look at the closest rivals in our top 10 list of Smart Phones to buy.

PC World Test Center reviews found that these 10 models are the best of the smart phones, also known as PDA phones.

By Liane Cassavoy
Apple iPhone
Bottom Line: This touch-screen phone is innovative, but it's expensive, lacks 3G network access.
PC World Rating: 82.9 (Good)
  1. Price When Reviewed: $399
  2. Design: Candy bar
  3. Carrier: AT&T
  4. OS Supported: Proprietary
  5. Battery Life Average (hh:mm): 10:00
T-Mobile Dash (Windows Mobile 6)
Bottom Line: The upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 adds support for Microsoft's productivity applications.
PC World Rating: 83.4 (Good)
  1. Price When Reviewed: $150
  2. Design: Candy bar
  3. Carrier: T-Mobile
  4. OS Supported: Windows Mobile
  5. Battery Life Average (hh:mm): 8:40
Nokia E62
Bottom Line: This affordable Symbian-based PDA phone is perfect for people who want to use productivity software.
PC World Rating: 83.5 (Good)
  1. Price When Reviewed: $130
  2. Design: Candy bar
  3. Carrier: Cingular
  4. OS Supported: Symbian
  5. Battery Life Average (hh:mm): 10:00
Samsung Instinct
Bottom Line: The Instinct's low price makes it a great deal for a good handset; but, it's no match for Apple's more diverse phone.
PC World Rating: 83.6 (Good)
  1. Price When Reviewed: $130
  2. Design: Candy bar
  3. Carrier: Sprint
  4. OS Supported: Proprietary
  5. Battery Life Average (hh:mm): 5:33
T-Mobile Shadow
Bottom Line: With the Shadow, T-Mobile delivers a smart phone smarter than most; its tinny call quality may be a concern.
PC World Rating: 85.2 (Very Good)
  1. Price When Reviewed: $200
  2. Design: Slide
  3. Carrier: T-Mobile
  4. OS Supported: Windows Mobile
  5. Battery Life Average (hh:mm): 10:00

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Latest Mobile Trends - Celebrities selling cell phones

The video for Usher's latest single, "Love in This Club," begins like any other: The singer sits alone in an ambiguous place with moody lighting.

Suddenly, Usher reaches into his pocket and pulls out a Sony Ericsson W350. A beautiful woman's photo appears on the screen. A few seconds later, she materializes in person. The rest, well, proceeds like a typical music video.

David Beckham // How celebrities sell cell phones (©

How did Sony Ericsson nab a starring role in a high-profile video? In a word, money.

Cell phones are beginning to rival cosmetics and fashion in their pursuit of celebrity star power. Sony Ericsson has Usher and tennis star Maria Sharapova. Motorola has David Beckham, Danica Patrick, Wyclef Jean and Fergie. Samsung has soccer studs Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba. And that's not counting the corps of Bollywood, Cantopop and K-pop stars the companies employ in Asia.

Motorola has used brand ambassadors for about two years. The celebrities "help elevate and build credibility for the Motorola brand and products," says Jeremy Dale, vice president of marketing for Motorola Mobile Devices.

The trend is growing as more people around the world acquire cell phones -- 3.5 billion and counting -- and phone makers realize they need to work harder to sell their wares. Brand marketers say the matchups make sense. "As the market gets more saturated, success is increasingly tied to retaining users and stealing other companies' consumers," says M:Metrics analyst Jen Wu. "The challenge for handset manufacturers is that the meaningful differences between one handset and another are small," says Allen Adamson, a managing director at San Francisco-based brand consultancy Landor Associates and author of "BrandSimple." "If you can't differentiate on a product level, you need to do it on an image level."

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That, unsurprisingly, is where celebrities come in. Sony Ericsson tapped Usher to represent its Walkman line of music phones based on his musical ability, mass appeal and youthful fan base, says Karen Morris, the company's vice president of marketing. Besides flashing Sony Ericsson in his videos, Usher will pose for in-store ads and provide exclusive photos and videos to AT&T, Sony Ericsson's U.S. carrier. In turn, Sony Ericsson will sponsor the singer's North American tour later this year.

Musicians, in turn, see phone endorsements as a respectable way to earn money amid sinking album sales. "At the rate the industry is turning, cell phones will matter more than any other mobile device [in terms of music sales]," said Usher at the press conference announcing his Sony Ericsson deal.The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Sony Ericsson isn't the only phone maker that recognizes the power of pairing musicians with music phones. Motorola employs Wyclef Jean and Fergie to talk up its Rokr phone. Samsung drafted singer Rain -- often called Asia's Justin Timberlake -- to be its "Olympic brand ambassador" and enlisted Lebanese singer Elissa to publicize its F400 music phone in the Mideast. In Hong Kong, singer-actor Andy Lau plugs LG Electronics' Shine phone. In China, Taiwanese R&B singer Jay Chou hawks Motorola.

Über-entertainer Beyoncé even launched her own limited-edition Samsung phone, the B'Phone, in 2007. Analyst Wu calls such phones risky ventures. "Even if the celebrity has a huge fan base, there probably aren't many hard-core fans," she notes. "And within those, only a limited number will be in the market for a new phone." Samsung says it has no plans to launch another celebrity-branded phone in the U.S.

Maria Sharapova // How celebrities sell cell phones (©

Celebrity athletes are equally in demand as public faces for cell phones. Tennis player Maria Sharapova, formerly the inspiration for Motorola's hot-pink Razr, now serves as Sony Ericsson's global brand ambassador. Soccer star David Beckham frequently promotes Motorola's Razr2 while competing abroad. In February, he made a pit stop in Seoul, where Motorola has struggled to unseat Korean rivals Samsung and LG. One local newspaper that covered the event noted, "Beckham Comes to Rescue Motorola."

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Though the practice permeates the U.S., Europe and East Asia, India is the global capital of celebrity cellphone promotions. The country is blessed with two unique characteristics: the world's fastest-growing cellphone market and a plethora of home-grown superstars. That has phone makers competing to snap up the most bankable Bollywood stars, hoping their legions of fans will follow. Motorola recently signed Abhishek Bachchan, whose celebrity stems from his own acting career; the legacy of his actor father, Amitabh Bachchan; and the fame of his actress wife, Aishwarya Rai. As recently as March, Bachchan had been the face of LG in India.

Samsung has actor/director Aamir Khan, whose work, the company says, mirrors its brand's "qualities of innovation, change, discovery, self-expression and excellence in performance." Even Nokia, which abstains from celebrity marketing elsewhere in the world, has a partnership with Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan that includes TV commercials and sponsorship of Khan's cricket team.

Not every celebrity wants to be associated with a phone, even the latest, coolest models. Some endorse phones on the sly, limiting endorsements to companies based abroad. Actor Chris Noth -- of "Sex and the City" and "Law & Order" fame -- represents LG's Secret phone in Australia, halfway around the world from his New York home.

Adamson approves the use of celebrities to promote products that mesh with their own images -- musicians for music phones, for instance. But he warns, "Using celebrities for any brand-building is tricky -- the risk is that the consumer remembers the celebrity, but not the brand." The other challenge: Celebrities handily sell fashion-focused products but usually fumble when promoting more functional goods.

That has led BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to feature glamorous entrepreneurs, such as fashion director Nina Garcia and hotelier Jason Pomeranc, in its ads, rather than traditional celebrities.

And it's one reason mobile operators don't use celebrities in their ads, focusing instead on the quality of their networks and the breadth of their services. Notes Adamson, "A hip, young star telling me about my carrier wouldn't be as persuasive as an engineer telling me that my phone will never drop a call."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Top 10 features iPhone 3G lacks or is not available

10 Things the 3G iPhone is Still Missing

By Tim Moynihan, PC World

The new App Store has unleashed a slew of great new apps for the iPhone, but there are still a few standard features we wish Apple's multimedia phone had. Here's the short list.

(© PC World)

It's great that the new iPhone has faster data service and GPS. And you could get lost for days in the new iPhone App Store looking at all the cool new toys and productivity tools. But there are still quite a few Achilles heels in Apple's 3G iPhone. What's most surprising is that these missing features come standard even in some of the most basic phones. With these added features, the 3G iPhone could come pretty close to perfect. (This isn't the first time we've complained about what's missing from the iPhone, and many of the gripes on this list are repeat offenders.)

Here's what we would still like to see in the iPhone:

1. Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Despite being fairly standard on most multimedia phones, MMS capabilities aren't part of the 3G iPhone's bag of tricks. That said, you can e-mail photos taken with the iPhone's 2-megapixel camera (or photos stored on the device). You can also share YouTube links directly from the iPhone's YouTube application. So why's it missing? The lack of MMS could be tied directly to the 3G iPhone's lack of a video camera; you can't share video files if you can't shoot or store them natively on the device. As for music, iTunes' strict limitations on sharing music are probably the reason behind that, but it would at least be nice to have audio-sharing capabilities for non-DRM-protected tracks.

2. Stereo Bluetooth / A2DP support

You've got to love the fact that the new iPhone no longer requires an adapter or headphones designed for its recessed headphone jack. But what about cutting the cable altogether? Unlike the latest BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian mobile platforms, the latest iPhone still doesn't offer the convenience of using a stereo Bluetooth headset to listen to its on-board iPod, at least without using a bulky adapter. For such a common feature, and for a company so aesthetically inclined, that's more than a little surprising.

3. Selecting, copying and pasting text

Apple fixed a few of the first-gen iPhone's shortcomings with the early-2008 firmware update (sending text messages to more than one recipient, for example), but they didn't add an option to edit text by selecting passages and copying and pasting them elsewhere in an e-mail message or note. And with the new iPhone firmware, they still haven't. This missing feature is more than a little annoying for those who write more than talk, want to copy and paste long strings from URLs, or fix links that get truncated in e-mail messages.

4. Horizontal keyboard for e-mail and notes

Another annoyance for writers -- and a confusing omission, given the fact that the iPhone's on-screen keyboard flips horizontally for some applications but not others -- is the fact that the touch-screen keyboard doesn't rotate to a landscape orientation when using the Notes, e-mail or Maps applications. Those also happen to be the three most writing-intensive apps on the iPhone, which makes the necessary one-finger hunting and pecking required by the portrait mode keyboard all the more annoying if you use those features a lot. Over time, using your thumbs to type versus holding the phone in one hand and poking at the keys with one finger is a lot more significant than you might think.

5. Improved predictive text (or the ability to turn it off)

The iPhone's predictive text feature (where the phone "guesses" what you're going to write after a few characters to eliminate typos) does a decent job at streamlining typing. However, it only has an "opt-out" feature, which requires hitting a very small "x" to deselect the word it suggests. This is where that feature fails. The time it saves in correcting miscues sometimes pales in comparison to the frustration it causes in forcing you to repeatedly deselect words. And there's no way to turn it off or create a keyboard-based shortcut to deselect the predicted word.

6. Integrated IM app

Here's the first thing on the list that the new App Store's offerings fix -- at least if you're an AOL Instant Messenger user. There's still no IM client pre-loaded onto the iPhone. That said, with e-mail and text messaging and a phone and a host of third-party mobile Web-based messaging offerings (Twitter comes to mind), do we really need another form of communication built into the 3G iPhone? Well, maybe a fax machine.

7. Flash support

Sadly, no one really knows when being able to view Flash animations or films will be a reality on the iPhone. This big wish-list item for the news version is still missing from the 3G handset. Even though YouTube clips are in Flash format on the Web, they've been converted to QuickTime format specifically for the iPhone-centric version of YouTube. The lack of Flash support means Safari fumbles when it comes to YouTube clips embedded in blog posts or other pages; those just show up as broken plug-in icons, with no option to launch the clips in the iPhone's separate YouTube app.

(© Apple)

8. A better camera and a camcorder

Sorry, snapshooters and YouTube filmmakers. The 3G iPhone's still camera maxes out at 2 megapixels, and there's no way to shoot video with the camera. Those are limitations that no number of photography apps from the iPhone App Store will cure.

9. Unified e-mail inbox
Microsoft Exchange is now supported, but there's no way to get all your messages from Yahoo,, Gmail, AOL and your business account all on one page, so to speak. Then again, barring excellent spam filters across all those sites, you wouldn't want that anyway.

10. Voice dialing and voice memos

Third-party apps to the rescue! The new iPhone has no native support for voice dialing or recording audio memos, but a few third-party apps now available via the App Store build them into the 3G handset, including Jott for iPhone, which is available for free.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

World's Most Expensive Mobile Phones - is it worth the money

The World's Most Expensive Cell Phones

By Elizabeth Woyke,

The World's Most Expensive Cell Phones (© Forbes)

There is no cell phone more eagerly awaited this year than the next generation of the Apple iPhone. But for some high rollers, the ultimate iPhone is a diamond-encrusted version from London jeweler Amosu. At 20,000 pounds ($39,600), the creation ranks among the world's most expensive phones.

Even a $40,000 iPhone seems tame compared with the 8800 Arte from Austrian designer Peter Aloisson. The luxury Nokia phone is posh to begin with, featuring designer ringtones and wallpapers and an 18-karat white gold finish. Encased in more than 680 pink and white brilliant-cut diamonds -- sparing only the screen and slide-out keyboard -- the embellished phone is a marvel. And, at 85,000 euros ($134,000), it's also the price of a college education.

These super-high-end cell phones are a fascinating anomaly within the cell phone industry. While handset makers like Nokia, Samsung and Motorola churn out millions of $40 phones for developing markets such as China, Russia and India (see "Cell Phones Your Wallet Will Love"), smaller firms like Amosu and Peter Aloisson focus on serving a much smaller population at the other end of the market.

It's a trend that shows no signs of halting. Fashion firms and automakers continue to show interest on the designer side. Recently, Christian Dior unveiled a $5,000 phone that resembles a sleek cosmetic compact. Watchmaker Tag Heuer is coming out with a $6,000 phone with a crocodile leather back. Porsche and Lamborghini have phones. Ferrari collaborated with Vertu, a U.K.-based luxury phone manufacturer owned by Nokia, on a special-edition phone last year.

Luxury firms say the steady march of cell phones across the globe is further expanding the market by popularizing the notion of luxury phones. "Mobile phones are becoming more and more an object of desire for people," says Alberto Torres, president of Vertu.

So what does a multithousand-dollar phone have that a $100 or $200 phone lacks? In the case of Vertu, whose phones range from $4,000 to $300,000, the difference begins with materials. Its handsets are crafted using scratch-proof sapphire glass screens, titanium frames, ruby bearings (for minimal wear and tear), fine leather and, in some models, gold and platinum.

Design inspirations are similarly highbrow. The brand's "Signature" line features details from jewelry and watchmaking. Its "Ascent" line is based on luxury automobiles and incorporates carbon fiber and rubber. (Torres uses a red Ascent handset.) Vertu's newest phones, the "Constellation" line, are meant to evoke images of classic aviation.

Then there is the painstaking construction. Though Vertu phones incorporate Nokia technology, they are developed and manufactured separately. Some models have more than 500 mechanical pieces, all assembled by hand in Europe. Torres compares the process to that of other luxury goods, such as cars, watches and handbags.

The phones are manufactured with longevity in mind, both in terms of tough construction and classic design. Vertu tests some phones by running a car over them. The goal, says Torres, is to make the phones functional for 20 years, even if users are likely to swap phones long before then.

The combination has attracted high-profile fans, such as former Ferrari Chief Executive Jean Todt, singer Beyoncé, and actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine Deneuve and Michelle Yeoh. Strikingly, most of these people shelled out money for their Vertu handsets. "We are very careful about gifting phones," says Torres. "We think it's more important that people buy into the brand and have a commitment to it."

The World's Most Expensive Cell Phones (© Forbes)

According to luxury phone firms, plenty of people can afford to buy their wares. Vertu had triple-digit growth in 2006 and 2007 and is now in expansion mode, opening more stand-alone boutiques, including its first U.S. shops, in the Wynn Las Vegas and Plaza (New York) hotels. Despite a slowing economy, Torres says, the U.S. is the brand's fastest-growing market.

He thinks luxury phones will eventually ring up billions in sales. But some luxury analysts say upscale cell phones and other electronic gadgets will never be as popular as designer watches, handbags and cars. The rapid pace of innovation in cell phone technology means phones don't appreciate in value the way a Rolex does, notes Pamela Danziger, a luxury marketing expert. And phones, which most people carry everywhere, but rarely secure to their bodies, can be easily lost or misplaced, making them risky investments, she adds.

"It is a very, very limited market," says Danziger.

The two exceptions, she says, are young men, who are increasingly forgoing luxury watches in favor of using cell phones to tell time, a habit that could make them more receptive to spending thousands on a phone. The other: wealthy people she calls "exfluents" (or "extreme affluents"), who "go for the best of the best in everything they purchase."

In the end, as with any extremely expensive accessory, buying a $10,000 phone isn't about logic. Torres compares luxury phones to vintage Ferraris. "They might not last forever or have the latest technology, but they're beautiful things to drive."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

3G iPhones is the iPod's killer

Apple's new iPhone may douse iPod sales

Who will buy an iPod when they can get a snazzy touch-screen phone with comparable musical functions for the same price? Apple is about to find out.

By MarketWatch

Apple seems to have developed the Midas touch over the last few years, but one could wonder if the company's latest move will kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

Apple (AAPL, news, msgs) delivered some mixed messages to investors this week when it introduced a 3G version of the iPhone at a price that will surely make customers swoon -- and may end up eating into its cash cow iPod business.

The company said the new 3G iPhone will go on sale July 11 for $199 for an 8-gigabyte version. That's half the price of its comparable device that runs on a much slower network with fewer features.

That will no doubt goose sales at the cash register when the iPhone goes on sale in July, selling at a discount to some other devices in the smart-phone space. It will also probably help Apple make its goal of selling 10 million units of the device by the end of this year -- a goal that some on Wall Street had begun to doubt as sales of the device seemed to stall.

"At $199, you are getting into mainstream consumer pricing," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. "There is no question they will blow past their 10 million number this year."

Some Wall Street analysts this week were upping their estimates for iPhone unit sales.

However, the new price also puts the iPhone at the same level as some of Apple's iPods. The 8-gigabyte version of the iPhone will sell for the same price as an iPod nano with the same amount of memory
Even given the additional recurring costs associated with the iPhone in the forms of calling and data plans, one has to wonder how many customers would want to buy an iPod when they can get the same functions plus a snazzy touch-screen phone for the same amount. Cash-strapped consumers may go for one device and not both.

A threat to the iPod business would be no small matter for Apple, which has ridden the iconic digital music player to a dramatic turnaround nearly unprecedented in corporate history.

The iPhone log

The iPhone's share of the market


BlackBerry's share of the U.S. smart-phone market


Number of iPhones sold this year

1.7 million

Price of 8-gigabyte iPhone when it was launched last June


Price of new 8-GB iPhone when it goes on sale July 11


Price of 16-GB iPhone that goes on sale July 11


Number of countries where iPhone is now sold


Number of countries where iPhone will be sold by year's end


The iPod business accounted for 24% of Apple's revenue in the company's most recent quarter, though there is some evidence that the business is starting to plateau. IPod sales in the most recent period were only up 1% in unit growth.

Besides being a strong business in its own right, the iPod is also credited with creating a "halo effect," drawing consumers into Apple's growing number of retail stores. Once inside the store, many have decided to buy Macintosh computers or notebooks. The financial highlight of Apple's fiscal second quarter was the sale of 2.29 million Macintosh computers, a 51% increase from the previous year.

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It is not clear yet how much of a halo effect the iPhone has had on Mac sales, but the fact that the iPhone is also available at AT&T (T, news, msgs) retail locations may dampen some of its ability to boost sales of other Apple products.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs noted that Apple sold 6 million first-generation iPhones since the Web-enabled device's commercial launch last summer.

Apple's news about the new iPhone seems to have caused at least some concern among investors. Its shares fell more than 5% as Jobs was showing off new models of the iPhone and about a dozen new applications for the device at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, though the shares regained some ground by the close.

Given the stock's 40% run-up over the last three months, the action may have been a "sell on the news" move by investors, thought there also may have been reaction to news that carrier partner AT&T will no longer share recurring revenue from iPhone users with Apple.

Stock Chart (Year)

Graphical chart for AAPL
That was a notable change for Apple, which made its debut into the cell phone business with a business model unseen in the rest of the industry. Now, the company will work under a more traditional model, in which carrier partners such as AT&T subsidize part of the cost of the phone in order to lock in more customers.

That may be Apple's saving grace, as it will likely collect more in revenue from iPhone sales than the $199 price tag would dictate, thanks to that subsidy. But consumers will still face an interesting choice of picking between products priced in a similar range, with very different features, at a time when gas prices continue to climb.

Based on the resounding glee among the Mac faithful and others this week, the new iPhone could be a big hit among consumers and corporate users alike. But time will tell whether Jobs & Co. have made the right move.

This article was reported and written by Therese Poletti for MarketWatch.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Right Digital Cameras For The Road or for travel

The Right Digital Cameras For The Road or for travel

Summer is fast approaching, and chances are, you're already planning to take advantage with a well-deserved vacation. Whether you're escaping the confines of your office to bask in the sun on some tropical beach, or a recent grad shaking off the obligations of school with a trot around the globe, you're going to want to make sure the memories of this relaxing excursion last for a very long time.

Digital Cameras For The Road (©

Finding the perfect digital camera for travel, one that is comfortable and durable and that will faithfully record your journey in high-quality photos, requires some research into what kind of places you'll be visiting, and some thought about what kind of photographer you aim to be.

Most travelers crave simplicity: a camera that works well when you need it and doesn't get in the way when you don't. That means light, small and easy to operate. The Canon PowerShot A470 is perhaps the finest example of a casual digital camera. Its diminutive profile (4.1 inches wide by 2.2 inches high by 1.6 inches deep) is perfect for slipping into a pocket or backpack.

Special shooting modes, like "Beach," "Night" and "Kids & Pets," instantly adjust the camera's settings to adapt to the situation you're in. The Canon A470 is also remarkably inexpensive ($120), so even if you accidentally lose it on a plane or drop it into the Seine, you won't feel so bad.

Another important feature of the A470 is its use of AA batteries. Small cameras typically use proprietary lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, which means you'll also have to lug around the camera's battery charger or buy a spare battery. If you're traveling abroad, you may also have to purchase an adapter to plug your charger into a wall outlet. AA batteries are ubiquitous: Run out of juice with the A470, and all you need to get going again is a quick stop at a corner store.

Manufacturers are unveiling lots of new models that marry high-performance photography with relatively small bodies. Panasonic has been leading the way with its TZ line of super-small extended-zoom cameras. The Panasonic Lumix TZ5 ($300) is a marvel, extraordinarily compact (4.1 inches wide by 2.3 inches high by 1.5 inches deep) yet loaded with an exceptional 10x optical zoom.

The TZ5 also has image stabilization, an absolute necessity for a camera of this size with such a long zoom. Canon recently introduced its own compact zoom camera, the PowerShot SX100 ($220), which also features 10x optical zoom and just about matches the TZ5 in dimensions.

But if your idea of leisure is trekking through the Andes mountains or diving at the Great Barrier Reef, you need a camera that is as rugged and adventure-ready as you are. The Olympus 1030SW ($375) is practically begging to be scuffed up, knocked around and completely soaked. You can drop the 1030SW on the ground from 6 feet and drag it 33 feet underwater without worrying one bit. It's crush-proof and freeze-proof, and yet with all this ruggedness it's about the size of a deck of cards (3.7 inches wide by 2.4 inches high by 0.8 inches deep).

It's not all feats of strength and endurance for the 1030SW, however. The camera can take highly detailed photographs with its 10-megapixel sensor. An in-camera panorama mode allows you to capture wide, sweeping vistas, and the integrated face-detection autofocus will zero in on the faces of your friends or family so they aren't lost in a blur.

Digital Cameras For The Road (©

For some vacationers, photography might not just be a way to capture memories; it may be the entire purpose of the trip. Serious photographers and enthusiasts won't worry about size or weight, just about capturing the perfect picture. That's where digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras like the Nikon D60 ($630, body only) and Canon Digital Rebel XSi ($800, body only) come in.

Both cameras are the latest releases from brands with proven records of success in the arena of high-level photography. These cameras require some serious commitment. You'll likely have to purchase a carrying case and possibly even some lenses. But when you're printing out poster-sized copies of your photos and impressing friends with your superb composition, you won't regret it.

There are as many cameras as there are exciting places to go, but with a little knowledge of the terrain and an understanding of your desires, finding the perfect travel camera should be easy. Taking the time beforehand to think it through means you won't have to fumble with a camera that doesn't suit your needs and instead can focus on making some memories worth snapping a picture of.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mobile Phones QnA to have 3G or no 3G

By Kent German, CNET Reviews

On Call: Answers for your cell phone questions.

3G or not 3G?

I have just purchased the Sony Ericsson K800i and was wondering if I can use the 3G capabilities in the United States. I have AT&T service and neither the AT&T nor the Sony Ericsson people seem to have an answer. Everything else works including e-mail, text and multimedia messaging, and the Internet. -- bmaberryjr
3G or not 3G? // Sony Ericsson K800i (© CNET)
A: Though the K800i is a great phone, it does not support the necessary 3G bands for use in the United States with AT&T service. While AT&T uses the 1900 UMTS (a type of 3G) band, the K800i uses the 2100 UMTS band, which is used mainly in Europe. As you note, you will be able to use the phone for all other functions, but unfortunately 3G is not one of them. If you're looking for a comparable phone that will be compatible with AT&T 3G network, I would suggest the Sony Ericsson K850i.
Buying a phone without a contract

Q: I have had my Motorola Razr V3xx for about a year and two months. I dropped it recently and the hinge broke, but I was able to tape it so that everything held together. But now the screen doesn't work, and the battery runs out very quickly. So what are my options for a replacement phone? Should I buy a phone on eBay until my contract runs out, or will AT&T replace it? Would you advise some sort of haggling? I don't have insurance. -- Sean
3G or not 3G? // Motorola Razr V3xx (© CNET)

A: Since you don't have insurance, AT&T won't replace your phone for free. But since you've been with the carrier for more than a year, there is a very good chance they'll allow you to upgrade by getting a new phone at a discount or even for free. Carriers differ on their exact policies, but most will reward longtime subscribers with rebates that are normally reserved for new customers. But I'm sure you know that rebates and free phones come at a price, and signing a new contract is usually the price you pay. From what I can tell from your e-mail, signing a new contract is something you'd prefer not to do, but I'd advise you to consider it. You could get a great deal on a dream device, and if you're not planning to leave AT&T after your service agreement ends, then maybe there's not so much harm in signing.

That said, you do have other options. You should be able to buy a new phone from AT&T without signing a new contract. You'd have to pay full price for the handset, but if cost isn't an issue, then you should see what is available. If cost does matter, you could try haggling, but the outcome will depend on a lot of variables. Sometimes you'll talk to a very accommodating customer service representative, and other times you'll get someone who does things by the book. Just keep in mind that carriers are more interested in keeping you as a customer than they are in selling you a phone at full price. Sometimes they'll work with you, but remember that if they do something for you, they'll expect something in return. And as I said, new contracts are what carriers love most.

Another option you should consider is buying an unlocked phone. These are handsets that will work with any GSM carrier, including T-Mobile and AT&T. Not only can you avoid purchasing your phone from your carrier, but also you can take the handset with you if you decide to leave. You can buy unlocked phones online or you can purchase them from third-party retailers such as Best Buy. Finally, you can buy a phone from eBay, but I advise caution when using that route. Simply, put, you never know what you're going to get. But if you decide to make the eBay plunge, just be sure the handset you buy is certified to work with AT&T's network. To do that it must be an AT&T-branded handset or it must be an unlocked model that supports the GSM 850 and 1900 bands.

A Samsung on Verizon

Q: I am currently looking at a Samsung E420 on eBay, and I am under a Verizon Wireless contract. How do I go about activating this phone on a Verizon network? I've heard that Verizon phones do not have a SIM card. Also, the Samsung E420 is a GSM 900/1800/1900 tri-band cell phone. Is this OK for the United States? I've read that the 1800 band is used overseas. -- Annie

A: Unfortunately, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Samsung E420 will not work on Verizon's network. The E420 uses a technology called GSM, while Verizon uses an incompatible technology called CDMA. As you point out, Verizon's phones do not use SIM cards. But on the upside, the E420 will work in the United States on T-Mobile or AT&T. You're correct that the 1800 band is used in Europe (the 900 band is used there as well), but the GSM 850 and 1900 bands are used here.

3G or not 3G? // Nokia N95 (© CNET)

A 3G N series phone

Do you know which of the Nokia N series phones support AT&T's 3G service? I believe the N95 does support the service but do the N82, the N96, and so on? -- Greg

A: Besides the Nokia N95 North American Edition and the 8GB N95, the other Nokia N series phone to support AT&T 3G network is the N75.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

10 Things Your Mobile Phone can Do that you might not know

10 Things Your Mobile Phone can Do that you might not know

Read on some of the stuff that your cell phones can do and how to utilize them on the future.

Everyone knows you can make calls and send messages with your cell phone, but even the simplest handsets have a variety of uses. You don't need to download extra applications or purchase any accessories to use these features; rather, they exist on your phone from the moment you take it out of the box. While cell phone junkies should see nothing new here, other users may find new ways to use their cell phone that they didn't know before.

Flashlight: Drop your keys in the dark, or perhaps you need to read a map on a rural road? If your camera phone has a flash you should be able to use it as an emergency flashlight. If you can find a "steady" setting in the flash menu, your flash will remain on until you turn it off. If there is no such setting, and your phone has a camcorder option, try activating your flash while recording a video. The flash will remain active for the duration of the shoot, though keep in mind some camera phones cap recording time at just a few seconds.

Voice recorder: Many phones have this feature, but you might be surprised at just how useful it can be. Let's say your short term memory is down to a few seconds. With your voice recorder, also called an audio recorder on some handsets, you can record short notes to yourself and play them back later. It can be a great way to remember an address or a few random facts, or to record a shopping list. What's more, some recorders allow you to save your important notes for posterity.

Camera and notes: Most people know that camera phones can be useful for car accidents or fighting parking tickets, but they also can be great for shopping as well. Say you're shopping for a new gadget and you want to take home a full list of the specs for the models you're considering. Instead of using a pen and paper, you can take a picture of the product's placard and then refer to it later. This method is also useful for remembering rambling or unintuitive product names.

Google search: If you're on a trip in an unfamiliar city and you have a burrito craving, your cell phone can be a much better tool than the Yellow Pages. Google offers a free service that delivers a variety of information through text message. By texting simple queries to 466453 (or "Google" on most devices), you can find the closest Mexican restaurant in addition to things like the current weather forecast or movie show times at local theaters. Texting the name of a restaurant will give you the address and phone number, which you can then call for information or reservations.

Send a voice message: There may be times where you want to send your friend a message that's too long to send by text. Or maybe it's after 11 p.m. and you don't want to disturb him with a phone call. Some phones allow you to send voice mails directly to another phone's voice mail without actually placing a phone call.

Bluetooth file transfers: Everyone knows about Bluetooth headsets, but Bluetooth has a long list of other uses. Previously some manufacturers and carriers restricted how Bluetooth was used on their phones, but most of those limitations no longer exist. Using Bluetooth, you can transfer photos and other files off your camera phone to another Bluetooth device. The process is exceedingly easy, and it's free since you won't have to use your carrier's messaging service.

Record calls: Some handsets allow you to record your conversations. This feature may be buried under an obscure menu, and it may record only for a limited time, but it works much better than trying to use any kind of external recording device. But before you start taking cues from Linda Tripp, it's important to remember that some states require you to notify the person that you're recording the conversation.

Organizer features: Every cell phone on the market has at least a couple of organizer features. The alarm clock is one of the most useful offerings, particularly when you're traveling, and most of the time your phone does not need to be on for the alarm to sound. Other features can include a calendar, a calculator, a notepad, a world clock, a stopwatch, a countdown timer, and applications for converting currencies or units of measurement. But the best feature of all has to be the convenient tip calculator. You can punch in the total bill amount, calculate the tip, and divide the total cost by the number of people down to the last penny. Though it's not available in every cell phone, it can save a lot of drama at group dinners.

POP3 e-mail: If your phone has a Web browser, and the vast majority do, you can access POP3 e-mail accounts like Yahoo or Hotmail. The interface will be different than on a PC, and graphics may not render properly, but if you need to read an important e-mail while on the go, this is the way to do it. After opening your browser, just type in the correct link then enter your login and password as normal.

Ringtone composer: Many phones, particularly Sony Ericsson and Motorola models, allow you to compose your own ringtones. Not only does this allow you to add an extreme level of personalization to your phone, but you can avoid buying new ringtones from your carrier. You don't need to be musically gifted, but it can help.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Turn your iPhone or iTouch into a 3G mobile Hacking secret

Watch and Learn the hacking of an iPhone to a 3G mobile

“At the moment, as a consumer, you need to be very careful about unlocking the iPhone, and know how you want to use it,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi, who attended the presentation. “If you unlock it, you are not going to have a flat rate, and you will not have access to the 7,500 hot spots.”

It’s a little tricky and involves hacking your Windows Mobile phone, but the gist of it is that by sharing the phone’s 3G connection over Wi-Fi with your iPhone (or iPod Touch), you basically bypass the clunky EDGE connection and have 3G speeds for browsing wherever. Your old phone needs to be nearby, of course. I have a similar hack going with a 3G phone and a Bluetooth PAN, which I just keep hidden in my laptop bag, but this seems like a more compatible solution.

It’s true: after the 1.1.1 update to the iPhone, I thought things would never again be the same when it came to installing third-party applications. But I should never have doubted my own sage words of advice. If anything, the latest method of installing third-party applications is even easier than the prior AppTapp method: you don’t even have to connect the iPhone to your computer.

Before installing, it’s recommended you get on a Wi-Fi network and set your phone’s auto-lock to “never” (under Settings -> General -> Auto Lock). Then just point Safari towards Read the information, and then head down to the bottom where it says “Install AppSnapp.” Clicking that link will cause Safari to quit and return you to the home screen—but don’t touch anything yet. After a minute or so, the iPhone will return you to the “Slide to unlock” screen. And then you’re all set: on your Home screen you’ll find the icon for the new (which, incidentally, is a lot slicker-looking than even the earlier versions).

Now, here’s the scary part. This hack relies on a vulnerability in Safari’s handling of TIFF files, meaning that essentially it’s giving arbitrary code on the web access to your entire phone. If that worries you, don’t install this hack. The good news, however, is that if you install the hack, it will supposedly patch that vulnerability. So there you go! Me, I’m just psyched to have third-party apps back.

Watch and Learn the hacking of an iPhone to a 3G mobile

Step-by-Step Guide

So here is the step-by-step guide on how to turn your iPod Touch (and iPhone) into a 3.5G iPhone! This is suitable for beginners as it involves no hacking at all of the iPod, and only a simple registry edit on the Windows phone.

What You Need

1) An iPod Touch or an iPhone.

2) A Phone/PDA with Windows Mobile 5 or 6.

I tested this on a HTC Ameo/Athena with WM6 but it should also work on any other touchscreen WM5 or 6. I've read that it will probably not work on the non-touchscreen Pocket PC versions. Your best bet is probably the O2 XDA Mini S which goes on eBay for around £150-200 new or £90-100 used. You can get it free from O2 if you really want a contract. It's otherwise known as the HTC Wizard. Anything from the HTC range of PDA phones should be fine.

3) A SIM card. These can be bought for 99p from almost anywhere now.

4) Download and install the free PHM Registry Editor onto the Windows phone. You can get it from

Hey, don't panic! I'm not going to ask you to actually use Wince ;-) At least not once you've done the initial setup. The Windows phone just acts as a mobile access point that can stay hidden in your pocket or bag.

The Procedure

This should only take about 10-15 minutes. If you have any problems at all, feel free to ask other users in my forum.

1) Setup the Windows phone as follows:

a) Go to settings/connections/wifi
b) Select the network adaptors tab, and select your Wifi card (should be obviously named)
c) Manualy set an IP address, lets use Then click in netmask and let it auto-fill with
d) Go back to the Wireless tab, and select NEW network (make sure the option to show both fixed and adhoc networks is selected).
e) Name the network whatever you want. I called it 'iPod'. Then tick 'This is a device-to-device (adhoc)' option. Hit 'Next'
f) Turn off data encryption. You CAN use it, but it makes things more complex, and only 1 device can connect to this network anyway so nobody else will be able to use it.
g) Hit next and finish. You should see the network name appear with 'Connecting'. It will sit there untill you finish the client side before it says connected.

2) Configure the Internet connection sharing,

a) Run Internet sharing on your device, select 'Bluetooh PAN' and check the box below shows your GPRS data connection.
b) Open PHM Registry Editor and go to 'HKLM\Comm\ConnectionSharing\PrivateInterface=BTPAN1'
c) Change 'PrivateInterface=BTPAN1' to 'TIACXWLN1', Ok and save this. Exit the registry editor.

3) Configure the WiFi settings on your iPod/iPhone (these instructions are for iPod Touch. Presumably iPhone is the same or very similiar. Just let me know in the forum how you get on!)

a) From the home page tap 'Settings' then 'Wifi' then 'Turn on WiFi'.
b) Select your new 'iPod' network from the list. Wait a few seconds. It should connect.
c) Press the 'Home' button and open Safari. Go to a webpage. It should connect with no trouble. I occasionally got the message, 'Cannot connect to iPod'. Turning it off and on (rebooting) should fix this. If not, reboot the Windows phone also and start from scratch.

And that's it! You've ended up with an iPhone that is 3G, is slimmer and lighter, and cost about 10 times less than an actual iPhone! Have fun with this and do feedback in the forum with any suggestions or further ideas.

Limitations and Followup Ideas

Ok, the first thing you might say is 'So how do I make voice calls on it? Well, if you're really sad enough to want to do that, then clearly you can't with an iPod touch because it doesn't have a microphone. I suggest you just take a normal phone out of your pocket and use that instead, as it's much more sensible for voice calls. You could even use the Windows phone in your other pocket if you don't mind looking like a complete dork holding a PDA to your head.

The iPhone could conceivably make VOIP calls this way, over a 3G network. I will let you know if anyone tried this with success!

I have tried MSN Messenger using the great web based messenger service, Meebo. It also allows you to use Aim, Yahoo and Google Talk, although I haven't tested those.

Monday, April 14, 2008

CTIA Wireless: The Class of 2008 from the largest North American wireless telecom show

CTIA Wireless: The Class of 2008

CTIA Wireless 2008 is history, but the handsets we saw April 1-3 in Las Vegas are far from it. Here's a look at some of the most interesting cell phones -- some influenced by the red-hot iPhone, some not at all -- slated to appear in the weeks and months to come.

CTIA Wireless: The Class of 2008

Samsung Instinct: Best of Breed Among iPhone Competitors
The phone everyone was talking about -- the Instinct -- a collaboration between Sprint (which badly needs customers) and Samsung (always interested in cutting-edge design) shapes up as the most serious iPhone wannabe yet.

It has true 3G data support (via Sprint's EVDO network), real (not cleverly triangulated) GPS to support its navigation app, plenty of customization features, the possibility of third-party support via its Java/Brew underpinnings … and, oh yes, did we mention it should significantly undercut the iPhone in price? It's a little thicker and a tad narrower, but it certainly is in the ballpark for those enamored of the iPhone form factor, and it is a touch-screen phone -- with haptics feedback, no less. Could it be an iPhone killer? Maybe not, but given Sprint's intention of spending $100 million to market it, we'll be interested to see how things play out.

Anti-iPhone: The Itsy Bitsy Neo Plays Music and Video Too
I'm not sure it's quite accurate to call Neonode's N2 an iPhone wannabe, given its diminutive size -- it weighs only about 2 ounces and is generally about the shape of a midsize restaurant matchbox. It does have a proprietary touch-screen interface, and support for music and video playback, as well as browsing and e-mail (although with no Wi-Fi or high-speed data support, you might not enjoy the latter tasks -- read Dialed In columnist Grace Aquino's recent review of the N2TEXT). Neonode says it will launch by mid-summer as an unlocked phone, for people who mean it when they say small is beautiful.

Anti-iPhone: The Itsy Bitsy Neo Plays Music and Video Too

Casio's G'z One for Verizon Wireless
Casio bills the G'z (pronounced Geeze, or they'll be very unhappy with you) One as shockproof and waterproof; at the show, they displayed it in a goldfish bowl. There's nothing fancy in terms of mobile broadband here -- just a slightly (but not incredibly) bulky rubberized clamshell that appears to work, even when dripping wet. I also like the way they've made a design minus (the antenna) into a design plus by curving it and turning in to a sort of handle for a lanyard.

The target market would appear to be people who can't wait to make a phone call after surfing or scuba diving -- or who are just pool accident-prone. The G'z One is supposed to be available from Verizon Wireless in June for about $100.

Casio's G'z One for Verizon Wireless

A RAZR-Slim Slider from Motorola
The Moto Z9, expected to appear midmonth on AT&T Wireless, is a slider designed in the skinny tradition of Motorola's hit superslim RAZR clamshell, with support for AT&T's high-speed HSDPA/UMTS network and assisted-GPS technology to power AT&T's navigation service (it has AT&T's brand now but is basically just good ol' TeleNav). The Z9 will be the first Motorola handset to support AT&T's application for sharing video in real time between handsets. Expect to pay $250 (with a two-year contract, before any mail-in rebates).
A RAZR-Slim Slider from Motorola