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Jul
31

New streaming player set to hit market

Posted By · July 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm

The latest tech gadget that I’m excited about is the Co-Star from Vizio. It turns an HDTV into a smart TV with a one-time cost of $99, below many other streaming players on the market today.

What makes this device different is that it not only has a web browser, but it gives you the full web experience by supporting Flash and HTML 5.  This is the only streaming player I’ve seen that supports Flash, and we all know there are hundreds of thousands of web pages that use that technology.

But in addition to the browser, the Co-Star has the features of Google TV. Vizio claims this means you get access to thousands of apps in the Google Play Store along with the already installed Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.

Vizio has partnered up with OnLive, a gaming site that lets you play with no discs or downloads.  Personally I’m not a gamer, but for those that are, this is one of the most promoted aspects of Co-Star.

The remote is two-sided. One side has your normal volume, channel, input, etc. controls plus a trackpad. The other side has a QWERTY keyboard for entering text.

Vizio also has apps that turn smart phones and tablets into remotes.

Now for some of the tech details. The only output is HDMI, so if you don’t have an HDMI connection to your TV you’ll need to get some type of converter cable. I’ve got and HDMI to DVI cable that I’m hoping will do the trick.  This is the one drawback I’ve found. There is also an HDMI input. The theory is that you run a connection from your cable/satellite box to the Co-Star and then from the Co-Star to your television. This allows you to continue to watch your favorite shows while interacting on the Internet, all on one screen. Maybe you’re watching “The Office” while in a “The Office” chat room.

This player supports 1080p Full HD as well as 3D. You’ll still need a 3D television to watch 3D video.

You can connect to the device with built-in wi-fi and LAN, Bluetooth, USB and DNLA-enabled phones, tablets and computers.

The Co-Star is taking preorders, but be aware that Vizio keeps running out of the product.  There is an estimated shipping date of August 14 and will hit stores soon after that.

So not only is this the most complete streaming player I’ve found, but it’s one of the least expensive. Google TV was not ready for prime time when it debuted. But with players like this and an upgrade to the Google TV system, it may now be ready to compete with other systems like Apple TV. Only time will tell.

When I get mine I’ll let you know how well it actually works.

Warren Mills is the webmaster for WTHR-TV. He has been building and working on web sites since the mid-1990s.
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Oct
20

Drive a Real Car… Online

Posted By · October 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Mitsubishi has engineered  the world’s first online test drive
of a real car.

The vehicle  is a full sized Outlander Sport, rigged to be driven via remote control.
It is called the Mitsubishi Live Drive.

Soon, they will open it up to the public.

Go to the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport site to see the video and
sign up to take an online test drive.

(Click on “Early Sign-Up Starts Now” to participate)

Maybe one day Ferrari will get on board…

Todd Donaldson

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Oct
15

iPad for Verizon

Posted By · October 15, 2010 at 12:08 am

In a press releasetoday, Apple announced that the iPad will be sold
at Verizon Wireless stores nationwide beginning  Thursday, October 28th.

Verizon will sell Wi-Fi only iPads bundled with a MiFi 2200 mobile
hot spot device.  The bundle price depends on the memory in the iPad.

16GB iPad + MiFi = $629.99
32GB iPad + MiFi = $729.99
64GB iPad + MiFi = $829.99

These are the same prices of the iPad with the built-in AT&T 3G.

While Verizon iPads do not have a built in 3G, the MiFi bundle
has its advantages.

The MiFi 2200 is a portable broadband device capable of sharing
an internet connection with up to 5 devices.  It can run off batteries
or AC power.

So one little MiFi could provide wireless for your iPad, your
brother’s Android tablet, your sister’s iTouch, your son’s Droid and
your daughter’s laptop.

Maybe while everyone is online, they could carry on a conversation…
on Skype.

For more information, go to: www.verizonwireless.com/ipad

Todd Donaldson

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Oct
10

Happy 10.10.10 Day!

Posted By · October 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Happy October 10, 2010!

10.10.10

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Oct
10

I “LIKE” Pampers

Posted By · October 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm

You can now purchase Pampers online… via Facebook.

The feature is powered by Amazon and allows you to buy diapers for
your diminutive dandy without ever leaving your favorite site.

This is not cool because it is Pampers, it is cool because it is commerce.

E-commerce has existed in Facebook for a while, but Pampers is a sign
that it has gone mainstream.

With this critical piece, Facebook is one step closer to being an independent
world within the web.

On Facebook, you can: buy stuff, play games, find information and, of course,
talk to your friends.

Because Facebook, is a closed system, they set the rules.   While this can be
maddening, it does have some advantages.

The page loads fast, the games work without hassle and when was the last time
you got spam on Facebook?

Facebook began as a social network, it has grown into a one stop shopping for
all of your online needs.

Just be sure to check your privacy settings.

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Oct
04

Changing the World, One Book at a Time

Posted By · October 4, 2010 at 10:52 pm

The other day, I was looking through a list of the best
100 tech start-up companies.

The company locations were all to familiar.

New York, New York.

San Francisco, California.

New York, New York.

San Francisco, California.

This went back and forth for dozens of companies, until…

Elkhart, Indiana!!!!!?????????

The company is called Better World Books.  It was founded and
is still operated, right here, in Indiana.

Better World Books is a for-profit company that collects and sells
books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide.

On September 24th, the following national spot aired during the Notre Dame game.

 

 
Most companies have a single bottom line, profit.
 
Better World Books claims to adhere to a triple bottom line, which is revealed in
the following ways.
 
Social: power to the people
The company provides funding for over 80 literacy partners.  This knowledge gives
families around the world hope for a better life.
 
Environmental: love your mother
The company implemented the first carbon neutral shopping cart.  By reselling used
material, they have kept over 8,000 tons of books out of landfills.
 
Economic: true accounting
The company maintains profit to ensure long-term viability.  The company answers
equally to their employees, customers, literacy partners, investors and the environment.
 
 
 
I venture to say Better World Books has a fourth bottom line… helping Hoosiers.
 
They provide jobs in northern Indiana, an area hit hard by RV manufacturer
layoffs.
 
World Books shows everyone that Hoosiers can be technological
leaders and change the world, one book at a time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Sep
23

How Much Do You Trust Your Facebook Friends?

Posted By · September 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm

FACEBOOK POST:

Todd: Look at our great vacation photos! 

     IamAthief: Look, I am robbing your house!

I am actually surprised this doesn’t happen more on Facebook.

Family brags about their far-off vacation, and some “friend” takes
note and robs them blind.

Maybe I am paranoid, but I don’t post vacation photos
until we are back home.   Otherwise, it would be like posting
a sign outside our house saying: “We are NOT home”

While Facebook robberies seem possible, it doesn’t happen very often.

On September 10, 2010, NECN.com, a news agency in New England, reported
about a burglary ring which targets Facebook users in New Hampshire.

The police alleged three men broke into more than 50 homes and stole
over $100,000 worth of property.

Facebook responded with the following statement:

“We’ve been in contact with the Nashua police, and they confirmed that they while they have an ongoing investigation and have already made a number of arrests, the only Facebook link was that one of those arrested had a Facebook friend who posted about leaving town in the near future (which is why they believe that home was targeted) and it had nothing to do with Facebook Places. The police confirmed that the other burglaries had nothing to do with Facebook altogether.”

Facebook basically brushed the robberies as one part of a larger theft ring. 

So is this a potential problem?  Am I just paranoid?

I guess the real question is:

How much do you trust your Facebook friends?

Todd Donaldson

p.s. Props to anyone who can identify this famous home.

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Sep
17

Oh Brother, (Microsoft) Where Art Thou?

Posted By · September 17, 2010 at 12:47 am

Apple released the iPad.
Google released several versions of an Android based tablet.

Apple introduced a the iPhone 4.
Google unleashed an army of Android based phones.

Apple announced Apple TV.
Google, which owns YouTube, began streaming live video.

These two companies battle for technology supremacy, but
do you know who is missing from this discussion?

Microsoft.

Originally, I was going to write a blog about how
lazy Microsoft has become.

I was going to paint the picture of Microsoft as a
teen slacker living in his Mom’s basement.

Mom: “Microsoft, when are you going to stop playing
XBox, and get a real job?”

Microsoft: “I quit my job so I could play Halo
full time.”

While most Microsoft products don’t generate a buzz
from consumers, they do generate profit.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, the net
revenue for Microsoft was $62.48 Billion.  It was
a record for the company.

Net income was $18.76 Billion, also a record.
(a growth of 29% over the previous fiscal year)

Not bad for a company no one talks about…

So where did the buzz go?

Vista was a buzz kill.  Consumers lost confidence
with Microsoft, and those Apple commercials didn’t help.

It must be noted that, Microsoft caters to business.  Products like
Sharepoint do not create consumer excitement, they DO create revenue.
(see sales figures above)

Microsoft is also missing a strong spokesman who can
highlight the success and smooth over the rough spots.

Someone like… Bill Gates.

In the early years, Microsoft fed off of Gates’ drive.
Bill was able to sell the heck out of software, even
though he knew it was buggy.

Under the leadership of Gates, Microsoft became a
powerhouse, a company to be admired and feared by
the competition. 

(Kinda like what Steve Jobs did for Apple)

Then on June 15, 2006, Bill announced he was stepping
down in 2008. And with him, the wind went out of the
company’s sails.

While he is not a charismatic showman, Steven Ballmer,
the current CEO, has made some tough decisions.

With the recent economic downtown, Microsoft has
streamlined operations.  They currently have
88,596 employees, down from previous high of 92,736.

In addition to fiscal responsibility, Microsoft
shored up its product line.

Windows 7, actually works!

As a result, the OS has been a hit, but it has not
been easy.  Microsoft has spent millions in ads,
which basically say: “We don’t stink anymore!”

While a stable operating system is nice, it doesn’t
generate buzz with consumers… or Wall Street.

Over 5 years ago, I bought Microsoft stock for 24.35 a share.
On September 16th, my stock closed at 25.33 a share.

On September 16th, Apple closed at $276.57
Google closed at $481.06.

This shows two things.

1) I bought the wrong stock.

2) Wall Street values innovation and consumer buzz.

As a shareholder, I applaud Microsoft for maintaining a solid
company with a strong foundation on business products.  I am
glad Ballmer streamlined Microsoft and stabilized the product
lines.

But…

As a greedy shareholder, I just want to say:
“Get off your Mom’s couch and innovate!”

But leave your XBox controller, I want to play Halo.

Todd Donaldson

P.S.  I know Microsoft created buzz this week with the
release of Halo Reach.  But don’t you think it’s time
to make a new version the game system?

XBox 360 was launched in 2005!

At the very least, it needs a blu-ray player!

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