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Vonage Phones in Hot WiFi Plans

The New York Post picked up on Motorola's slope-friendly announcement today. "Ski resorts next winter will be a lot noisier and folks just might be asking the jacket behind them on the lift to tone it down a bit thanks to a new line of interactive gear coming from Motorola and Burton Snowboards. The gear -- a jacket, helmet and beanie cap -- will allow the wearer to enjoy music or phone calls or to toggle between the two with their Bluetooth-enabled Motorola phone and iPod wired into a padded pocket. The pocket adapter is connected to a selector on the sleeve and integrated with the phone, according to Motorola's Bruce Hauber. For the helmet and beanie cap, the wearer will listen to music through the specially equipped phone. The music will pause when a phone call is received."
New York Post: Staid Motorola Tries Ski Wire

What? You're Breaking up on Me!

Vonage is not the only reason cell phone carriers should be worried. "More than half of U.S. consumers are less than satisfied with their mobile telephone service and give the lowest ratings to providers involved in large mergers, according to a Consumer Reports survey. Poor call quality, difficulty comparing service plans and less than helpful customer service were problems cited in a survey from the magazine's September survey of 39,000 people in 17 major cities," Reuters reported. Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA fared well in the survey. The San Francisco Chronicle also picked up the report.
Reuters: Consumers Gripe About Cell Phones In Survey

_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
Tech Giants Double Down in Vegas (washingtonpost.com, Jan 6, 2005)
CES 2005: Form, Function and Stylin' (washingtonpost.com, Jan 4, 2005)
Tsunami Prompts Online Outpouring (washingtonpost.com, Jan 3, 2005)
The Year in Technology (washingtonpost.com, Dec 22, 2004)
Shooting for Video Game Success (washingtonpost.com, Dec 21, 2004)
More Past Issues
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Reviews like this are helping carriers look for ways to boost heir service. Just today, the Wall Street Journal reported that some 26 wireless companies and telco gear makers are taking a closer look at 3G or third-generation wireless technology and "have agreed to study the development of advanced wireless technology to greatly increase the speeds offered by wireless networks. Cingular Wireless, Vodafone Group PLC, Qualcomm Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc. and Motorola Inc. are among the companies taking part in the effort."
The Wall Street Journal: Wireless Industry Agrees to Study Standard to Boost Network Speed (Subscription required)

HP Plays Entertainer

Computer maker Hewlett-Packard is using CES to tout its move into the digital entertainment arena. The company will "announce a TiVo-like media hub that can store video, music and photos and two new hybrid PC/entertainment systems. The new products are part of an aggressive, 2-year-old digital entertainment strategy that pits H-P against the top players in the computer and electronics industries. H-P has aggressively moved into the digital camera, media PC and television markets. It's also signed a unique deal with Apple allowing it to sell its own version of the popular iPod digital music player," USA Today reported. "The goal, H-P Chief Executive Carly Fiorina says, is 'delivering simplicity into what is today a much too complicated world.' Digital electronics in general are too expensive and too difficult for consumers to use, says Fiorina, who will give a speech Friday at the giant trade show."

"HP's move is part of a larger effort by information technology companies to compete more directly against consumer electronics makers. As more video and music becomes digitized, the lines between computers and entertainment devices are blurring," the Los Angeles Times said. "We absolutely know from the research we've done... that there is a big set of consumers that are not comfortable enough with the PC to say, 'I want this to be the center of my living room experience,'" Fiorina said, according to the paper. "But they do want to be able to do, in their living rooms, something like take their digital photos and put them to music and come up with a great slide show, and do it in an easy way."
USA Today: H-P Kicks Digital Entertainment Into High Gear
Los Angeles Times: Living Room Taking Center Stage At HP (Registration required)

HP's media hub plans also give a nod to the growing popularity of Linux. "Hewlett already offers similar devices based on Microsoft's Windows Media Center Edition. The device, called the HP Media Hub, will be based on the Linux operating system. Carleton S. Fiorina, the chief executive, said that by using Linux, rather than Windows, Hewlett can reduce the cost of the device, which has not been set, she said," the New York Times reported. The Merc has more details on the hub. "In an acknowledgment that not all consumers want to meld the PC and the TV, HP is developing a non-PC hub for the living room. The company is seeking to make its products simpler to use, and it is developing the new platform using the Linux operating system for consumers who are not interested in computer technology. ... HP is working on a media hub that will eliminate the need for the cable box. HP has also designed an electronic programming guide that lets consumers find and record content. A music database service will give consumers access to song titles, CD artwork and other artist information."
The New York Times: Hewlett To Offer TV Media Hub (Registration required)
San Jose Mercury News: New HP Lineup Targets Home Entertainment (Registration required)

Forbes and the Chronicle have more on HP's digital entertainment plans.

Finding Relief Online

Tsunami relief continues, with more aid and donations coming via the Internet (see Monday's Filter for more online relief coverage). The New York Times today chimed in with yet another piece on the Internet's role in helping link the disaster's victims with aids and help connect families with news about missing loved ones. An excerpt: "The Internet has also become the main conduit of private donations for what is shaping up to be the biggest international relief effort in decades. By Tuesday, Amazon.com said it had raised more than $14 million by offering its site as a way to donate to the American Red Cross. About half of the $92 million in donations to the American Red Cross so far have come over the Internet, a spokeswoman said." The article also noted the limitations of finding information online. "Most of the dead were not tourists but residents of Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and other places where Internet access is hardly widespread. But even Americans and Europeans using the Internet seemed more likely to find condolences than a loved one: of a dozen people contacted by The New York Times who posted notices seeking missing relatives, none got a reply with useful information. Esther Dyson, editor of the online journal Release 1.0 and a prominent writer on the Internet's impact, said people should not judge the bulletin boards a failure. They represent an astonishing technological leap beyond what would have been possible in a disaster a decade ago, she said."
The New York Times: To Those Seeking Help and Giving It, Computer Is A Lifeline (Registration required)

Survey Says ...

Don't forget to send me your nominations for the top tech trends of 2004, especially those developments that will continue to flourish in 2005. I will publish some reader feedback in an upcoming Filter. Thanks to all readers who have submitted their ideas so far. Please include your full name, city and state.

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com. (Yes, those spammers have been having a lot of fun with my e-mail address lately.)


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