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Android-powered Cameras

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Point and Shoots running Android 4.2 are dropping like cherry blossoms in the Spring. They offer built-in WiFi for local connectivity or posting to social networks and enable you to download apps from Google Play for advanced features such as HDR or timelapse, voice activation, or simply to watch videos, listen to music or use maps.

Nikon’s new $350 Coolpix S810c, a compact point-and-shoot, runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, competing with Samsung’s new Galaxy 2. The S810c features a 16 megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor, a 12x optical zoom lens with VR stabilization and built-in Wi-Fi. It replaces the Coolpix S800c.

The built-in Wi-Fi provide a simple way to directly share photos instantly with friends and family. When no external Wi-Fi network is available, users can also connect to a compatible smartphone or tablet.

The S810c offers 1080/30p HD video and built-in GPS, both offered in the preceding model, and adds a larger 3.7-inch touch screen LCD with 1.2 million dots of resolution. It also provides a headphone jack to play MP3s.

Samsung’s $450 Galaxy Camera 2 is an ultra-compact shooter powered by Android 4.3 Jelly Bean that has the option of connections to a 3G or 4G network.

The Galaxy Camera 2 features a 21X (23-483mm equiv.) lens, a 1.6 Ghz Quad Core Exynos processor and has 2GB of RAM, 8GB of user memory, a microSD slot, and a 2000 mAh battery.

A 4.8-inch touch LCD display, xenon flash, and 1080/30p video recording with built-in Wi-Fi with NFC for easy photo sharing, plus GPS (with GLONASS), and Bluetooth 4.0.

The Galaxy S4 zoom runs Android 4.2 and allows voice conversations. It’s a $350 smartphone with a 10-1 zoom lens.

The Galaxy S4 zoom is more compact than the Galaxy Camera (with a shorter zoom), and features 1.5GB(RAM)+ 8GB(eMMC) with MicroSD up to 64GB. It has Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC.

While far more images are captured with mobile devices than dedicated digital cameras, smartphones generally have tiny 1/3-inch or even 1/3.2-inch sensors which are smaller than the chips in even basic compact cameras and generally produce inferior image quality.

Having feature-packed Android Photo Apps available like Camera FV-5 and Camera ZOOM FX is handy, but they may take some time (if ever) to get optimized for the new Nikon camera.

Sony Xperia Z2 has supplanted Nokia’s 808 Pureview as the best smartphone for mobile photographers, according to DxO Labs, an organization that analyzes camera quality. The iPhone 5S is the third-best smartphone for picture-taking, earning a score of 76 to tie the Xperia Z2′s predecessor, the Xperia Z1.

C/Net tested the Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and iPhone 5S. While each handset had their strength and weaknesses, for the most part, the GS5 outperformed the One M8, with the iPhone 5S and GS5 usually neck and neck.

T-Mobile’s Simple Starter: $40/mo

Posted by Sam Churchill on

T-Mobile today introduced its all-new Simple Starter value plan which offers LTE data at $40 a month along with unlimited talk and text and up to 500MB 4G LTE data with tethering.

Starting at $50, T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plans, feature unlimited talk, text and data for up to 5 lines.

AT&T’s 300MB plan, by contrast, starts at $20/month but jumps at a rate of $20 per additional 300MB.

This has been about nothing less than freeing Americans from the greedy, absurd practices of the old wireless companies“, said T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere.

Verizon’s Prepaid plans start at $45/month with 500 MB of data a month.

Verizon has a handy calculator to estimate your monthly data total.

Sprint prepaid plans include a $45 unlimited minutes but no data and $60 a month with unlimited minutes and unlimited data.

Prepaid Reviews keeps tabs on the latest plans and prices and features a comparison tool to compare prepaid cell phone plans side by side.

However, the mobile industry’s rate plans change weekly, so the best bet might be to check each of the carrier’s websites. Virtual mobile operators, which lease spectrum and infrastructure from large carriers, often provide the best deals but your choice of handsets may be limited, unless you can bring your own phone and use their SIM card. T-Mobile’s storefronts are handy for prepaid users in that they can supply a SIM card on the spot and get you going in a few minutes.

March Win for Turner and NCAA

Posted by Sam Churchill on

According to Turner Sports, March Madness Live 2014 shattered all previous online viewing records for the tournament, netting a total of 69.7 million live streams. That includes all the platforms where the service was available, which included a website, as well as mobile apps on iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows devices.

Turner says the 2014 streams grew by 42 percent compared to last year, while TV Everywhere (enabling cable subs to access live content) also saw an increase in usage during the basketball tournament, with an 85 percent growth from March Madness 2013.

ZTE: Smartphone Superpower

Posted by Sam Churchill on

China-based ZTE launched a new Android smartphone, dubbed the Redbull, which starts at $113, reports C/Net. The China-only handset features a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, a 5-inch 720p HD display, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

ZTE is offering two versions — a “Youth” option boasting 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage and an “Energy” version that doubles those specs for $135.

China has become a major battleground for companies across the globe, says C/Net. Companies based in China, like ZTE and Xiaomi, have been able to capture serious market share with higher-end specs and affordable pricing.

Apple has faced trouble garnering significant market share, due in large part to its devices coming in hundreds of dollars higher than their China-based counterparts.

ZTE phones ranked No. 4 in both mobile phones and smartphones as of Q2 2013. ZTE holds the 5th place in U.S. smartphone market, according to some reports.

According to market research firm IDC, smartphone shipments are expected to pass 1 billion for the first time in 2014.

Comcast: WiFi in Merger Mix with TWC

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Comcast confirmed that it’s weighing plans to create a nationwide WiFi network using its routers. Comcast filed its 180-page merger plan with the FCC detailing their proposed $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner merger.

Comcast is the largest cable operator in the nation and Time Warner Cable is the second largest. On Tuesday, David Cohen, Executive VP will be testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

The merger would create a behemoth, reports the NY Times, controlling 30 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers and more than 40 percent of broadband service, nationwide. Opponents of the deal say joining the two largest providers of cable television and broadband service would create a company with inordinate market power.

“This will lead to new technologies, better services and more choices for consumer and businesses — keeping America at the forefront of the digital revolution,” Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said Wednesday in prepared testimony.

Perhaps Comcast should start with a new settop box. The Natural Resources Defense Council says the biggest energy drain in your house is the TV set-top box, not the fridge, air conditioner, or heater. It operates at near full power even when the consumer is neither watching nor recording a show.

Comcast residential customers by the hundreds of thousands across the country now have the new Xfinity routers with a public-hotspot feature.

The CableWiFi alliance was announced at last year’s Cable Show in Boston. It includes hotspots from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks. Collectively the MSOs in the partnership have laid claim to having the largest Wi-Fi network in the nation.

It makes their homes rough equivalents of coffee shops and other public venues that have long offered free Wi-Fi. Comcast didn’t say whether it is considering a hybrid mobile service or selling Wi-Fi to carriers.

Whether Comcast’s WiFi network would be truly “free” (to non-cable subscribers) is an open question. It creates a new revenue stream for Comcast but could kill competition before its starts.

The FCC recently voted to hike the power to 100 MHz of spectrum in the lower 5 GHz band. Comcast applauded the move and had lobbied for it.

France’s Free Mobile uses a similar network. Free.fr uses a set-top box that automatically shares a portion of one’s broadband connection via Wi-Fi with other Free.fr customers. Over five million set-top boxes has created a free Wi-Fi cloud enveloping major cities such as Paris.

Iliad-owned Free added 4G LTE at no extra cost to customers. Free in France offers unlimited talk, unlimited SMS and MMS messages, tethering and unlimited data with a speed reduction after 3 GB. Free charges only $25 per month and there is no contract.

Verizon could sell 4G access to Comcast outside of its footprint in exchange for access to Comcast’s Wi-Fi networks, according to GigaOm.

Comcasts’ strategy may not be unlike Republic Wireless which uses Voice over WiFi to offer monthly plans starting at just $5/month. A proprietary VoIP Android application can seamlessly switch between Sprint’s CDMA mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks.

Sprint’s Wi-Fi Calling is a free service that lets you use voice and messaging services over existing home, office and public Wi-Fi networks. Sprint now supports four phones for Wi-Fi calling, the tri-band Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S4 mini, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Mega and Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Skeptics are fearful Comcast and Time Warner Cable will simply “take out” actually free WiFi spectrum. Some people (like me), fear that by blanketing whole communities with powerful WiFi on the lower 5 GHz band, Comcast and Time Warner could largely eliminate any WiFi competition from GoWex, Facebook/Cisco, Google, the phone companies or independent providers. Comcast could charge for the air.

Other WiFi providers that plan “free” nationwide networks include:

A combined licensed/WiFi 2.0 hotspot subscription model might make a lot of sense — in the 20th century. It’s hard to imagine Comcast and Time Warner – let alone mobile phone operators – becoming a low cost provider for the unsubscribed mobile masses.

A Comcast/TWC merger may require extensive consumer protection provisions, according to Ars Technica, which has an in-depth analysis.

The Consumerist’s annual poll voted Comcast America’s worst company. The company defeated Monsanto by a margin of 3 percent.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC hikes power in the lower 5 GHz band, Google Fiber Expands to More Cities, FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, Free Broadband in France?, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free WiFi for 31 SF Parks, Ubiquiti 802.11ac Outdoor Access Points, Ubiquiti Launches “Revolution”, Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop, Enterprise-grade Firmware for Community WiFi Networks, Subsidized Access Vs Free Access, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood, Meraki Proposes Free SF Wi-Fi Network, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free WiFi: It’s a Right!, San Jose: Municipal Wi-Fi Comes Alive (Again),

Sony Xperia Z2: Top Camera Phone

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The Sony Xperia Z2 has supplanted Nokia’s 808 Pureview as the best smartphone for mobile photographers, according to DxO Labs, an organization that analyzes camera quality.

Sony’s latest flagship handset scored a 79 out of a possible 100 on the DxOMark Mobile scale, beating out Nokia’s 808, which landed a score of 77, reports C/Net. Sony’s handset comes with a 20.7-megapixel camera and can record in 4K video.

Sony announced the Xperia Z2 at Mobile World Congress in February and competes with Apple’s iPhone 5S, the HTC One M8, and Samsung’s Galaxy S5. The Android-based smartphone comes with a quad-core 2.3-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 5.2-inch HD display, and runs on Android 4.4 (KitKat).

According to DxO, the iPhone 5S is the third-best smartphone for picture-taking, earning a score of 76 to tie the Xperia Z2′s predecessor, the Xperia Z1. Apple’s old iPhone 4 scored a 50 out of 100 in the testing, leaving it at the bottom of the pack.