Global TV Tech Buzz: Blackberry 10 Is Winning Fans

rim chartIt’s almost here and the anticipation has people wondering if the 2 horse race between Apple and Android might just get a legitimate 3rd contender. BlackBerry 10 will be officially unveiled this week. The buzz is building, the early returns are promising, and the $RIM stock is up 72% over the past month, and an incredible 136% over the past 3 months. It is all adding up to good things for RIM.

Part of this rise in confidence has to do with how RIM has handled the launch. The official unveiling will be later this week, but over the past 2-3 months, there has been a long road show with RIM showing off the platform to developers and journalists. The reviews have been positive, and while many would have liked to have seen this sort of OS from RIM 18 months ago, the news cycle of anticipation has been building since the fall.

So what can you expect in BB10? Here are the key points that everyone is fawning over:

HUB and PEEK and FLOW

On the software side, there are 3 main components to the new BB10: hub, peek, and flow.

BlackBerry Hub will replace your message folder. It will be an all-in-one spot for notifications, bbm, tweets, email, and communications.

BlackBerry Peek is a nifty swipe up to see your notifications, while a side swipe will bring in your email box without leaving the app. Think of it as toggling between windows on your desktop. On other devices you have to leave the app to get out and see something else, BlackBerry Peek lets you multitask easily.

BlackBerry Flow takes peek to the next level with multitaksing. You can flow between apps without popping them open or closing them. It’s a much more fluid experience that really lets you operate one handed to go between all sorts of different applications and tasks on your device.

KEYBOARD DESIGN

blackberry 10 keyboardThere are two types of smartphone users: touch screen fans, and physical keyboard fans. The physical keyboard takes up a lot of real estate that could be devoted to the screen, or makes the device too thick, so RIM is releasing a touch screen only version first to try and get people to switch. The keyboard in BB10 looks very much like the physical keyboard from older BB models. It has frets, the keys are large, and apart from not having physical keys, it looks just like the keyboard you’re used to.

There is also a funky predictive text that has words floating above the keys as you type. Just flick a letter and the word will appear. It works in both languages, and will even learn words that you like. Say you type Hey with H more often than Hi, BB10 will recognize that and suggest it.

BLACKBERRY BALANCE

Over the past number of years it has been said the iPhone is what people bought for themselves, a BlackBerry is what they got from work. Blackberry has been coveted by business because of the backend security that IT departments could control. BlackBerry 10 now has an enterprise solution that will work on both Android and iOS devices. A company can have that secure email network, and profile running on a variety of devices. You basically end up with 2 profiles, one for personal, one for work. You can’t copy files between the two, and IT can control the back end. So now, if employees want to have an iPhone or Android, it doesn’t matter – Blackberry can still help provide the corporate software.

Is all this enough? We’ll find out on Wednesday when the official announcement of BB10 and the new hardware will be made.

data-man appAPP OF THE WEEK: Data-Man [99c]
A very personalized app that will help you manage your data usage on your smartphone. You tell it your billing cycle, and then it will easily, quickly, and instantly track your data consumption on WiFi and via mobile towers.

Compared to the built in app that needs to be reset when you want to measure it, or unreliable data meters from mobile providers, this is the most reliable, and fastest app I’ve seen to keep track of your data and know when you might be facing overage charges.

Global TV Tech Buzz: CES 2013 Review

The Consumer Electronics Show was held this week in Las Vegas. It is the annual show and shine of the best and brightest new gadgets manufacturers have planned for 2013. Big tvs, smart fridges, and assorted accessories and bizarre inventions were unveiled.

Here are the things you should really pay attention to from the show:

3D IS DEAD, LONG LIVE 3D

For the past few years at CES, the majority of the show floor for tv brands was devoted to 3D. This year, 3D was very absent as a highlight. For the past number of years you were handed glasses as you entered keynotes, brands fought over which mode of 3D rendering was best, but this year it seems to have fallen off the highlight reel. Sure, if you’re looking for a high end TV, you will most likely end up with one that is 3D, but it’s a trend that just hasn’t gained enough momentum for the manufacturers.

OLÉ! OLÉ! OLED!

Instead of 3D everyone is talking about OLED (organic light emitting diode). So when looking for a tv you now have plasma, LCD, LED, and OLED. An OLED display works without a backlight. It can display deep black levels and can be thinner and lighter than a liquid crystal display (LCD). Panasonic and Sony showed off a 56″ 4K OLED tv on the show floor that was just 1/2 an inch thick. It’s still a protoype, but the development of the product is showing that crisp, clear, rich images are more preferred by consumers than 3D. Samsung‘s entry to OLED was to show a curved display. This improves viewing angles around the room, but is just a prototype.

BIG ASS TV

There is always a race at CES to have the biggest tv on the block. This year, Samsung unveiled a 110 inch UHDTV. Price wasn’t revealed, but you can put it at north of the $20 000 that Sony and LG charge for their 84 inch models.

The “bigger is better” model has long been consistent at CES from tv manufacturers who now want consumers to think of a 60″ set as the smallest that will work in a home theatre. You’ll need to consider room size when buying your set, you should sit 7 1/2 feet away from a 60″ screen and 10 feet away from an 80″ one.

sony xperia zSMARTER SMARTPHONES

Sony Xperia Z raised a lot of eyebrows on the show floor as a sleek 5″ Android handset with a 13 megapixel camera. One of the demos featured the phone being answered in the shower as a way to prove it is waterproof. That is something we don’t need to Facebook, please.

Samsung also introduced the Youm, a plastic OLED screen that is bendable. This is the proof-of-concept sort of thing you see at CES where companies demonstrate the future of technology rather than a specific product.

THE BIZARRE AND THE WEIRD

Hapi Fork – slow down and enjoy your food. This fork will vibrate in your hand if you eat too quickly, the idea being that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to tell you that you’re full. The slower you eat, the better you’ll eat.

ipottyiPotty – an iPad stand with a potty attached. If you didn’t think kids had enough problems being drawn to technolgy, this one will drive you made. It’s an actual potty trainer for kids with a built in iPad stand so they can play potty games, and, perhaps sit on the potty longer for training without complaining.

Winbot – this is a robot that does windows. Roomba has revolutionized apartment vacuuming with their cute little robots. They even expanded to the Scooba which will mop or do pools. Now meet the Winbot, it sticks to your windows like Spider-Man and does them for you.

Global TV Tech Buzz: Digital Resolutions

Well the first week of 2013 is in the books, and if you’re like me you’re still trying to get back in to the routine and drop the extra wait and get a workout.

Losing Weight is the top resolution, so you can imagine there’s “an app for that.” There is, lots of them, and so this week a look at some of the best apps you can get on your phone to get in a workout.

GymPact [free]
Conquer excuses with $$$ and get your butt to the gym.
Commit to exercise. Checkin at the gym or track outdoor workouts via RunKeeper.Earn cash for meeting your goal, paid for by non-exercisers!

100 Pushups [99c]
The concept is simple: this app will teach you how to do 100 pushups. It doesn’t matter if you can only do 1 right now, this app will get you on a 3 day a week plan doing pushup intervals to work your way up to 100 nonstop. If you like the idea, check out the companion app 200 Situps.

Nike Training Club [free]
If you get bored at the gym because you don’t know what exercises to do, and you can’t afford a personal trainer, the Nike Training Club is genius. Workouts from 5 minutes to 45 minutes that don’t need a lot of equipment and will have you sweating up a storm. This is my go-to app for cross training, and is my favorite fitness app.

Aherk
Aherk is a self-blackmail service that lets you define a goal, set a deadline and let your Facebook friends decide if you’ve achieved the goal. If not, it uploads a compromising photo of you on Facebook for all your friends to see. You may argue that you can just submit a non-compromising photo of you to the app, rendering the consequence negligible, but at least it incorporates a bit of social pressure into your goal by asking your friends to vet your success.

Yoga Download [free podcast]
You don’t have to pay the $15 drop in fees for the trendy yoga studios in town, you can subscribe to podcasts and get your downward dog on in the comfort of your home, or if you travel, you can do it in a hotel room, on the beach, anywhere. The new Podcast App for iOS devices makes it easy to subscribe to programs, and this is one of many you can have for free.

Pump Up [free]
PumpUp is meant for people who want to get started with a fitness routine but don’t know what to do, or those who want to take their fitness to the next level. PumpUp shows users what to do, how to do it, and over time, adapts their plans to ensure they don’t plateau.

Navy SEAL Fitness [$1.99]
If you’re more serious about amping up your workouts for the new year and are looking for a challenge, why not try and keep up with the big boys? This one will test your mettle.

Runner’s World Smart Coach [free]
If you have a 5k, 10k, or longer race on your calendar for the year, this app will help you with the distances you need to do each day to stay on pace. This is the app I’ve used to train for my Team Diabetes events and I’ve got it ready to go for my half marathon this may with Team Diabetes in Edinburgh.

TWITTER FOLLOW OF THE WEEK
Since the segment was all about apps this week, I thought I would switch things up and give you a must-follow for your Twitter account. Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut who has just started a 6 month tour of duty aboard the International Space Station. Up until now his tweets have been very interesting photos of the planet, and facts about life in space. Then William Shatner tweeted Hadfield and it all got a little surreal.

Leonard Nimoy, Wil Weaton, and Buzz Aldrin have all gotten in on the game. Following Hadfield is an absolute must. It’s delicious nerd fun.