Microsoft Buys Danger, Maker of Hiptop!

It's surprising in some ways, but it makes good sense in others - Microsoft has purchased Danger, Inc, the maker of the Hiptop platform which I've written much about.

Seems like Danger has some piece of the picture that Microsoft wants to paint for their mobile efforts. Could it be the Hiptop user interface? Could it be the client-server part? Could it be the human expertise in running a managed platform like the Hiptop platform?

Let's recap the basics of Hiptop:

  • Only some data is held on the device. Data is stored on servers at Danger, Inc.
  • Web pages are resized by Danger's servers to help operate their web browser.
  • Third party apps are hard to come by, because of a tightly-managed software ecosystem, but the apps are all J2ME apps.
  • The OS on the device is Java-based.
  • The Hiptop is known for its killer form factor, QWERT keyboard and flip-out screen.

Could Microsoft be seeking to leverage this line of thinking into a Zune phone or some kind of Xbox mobile device?

With few details in any of the coverage out there, it looks like there are more questions than answers. This one is worth keeping an eye on with Windows Mobile as an established player, with iPhone being so buzz-laden, and with Google's Android platform making waves.

Posted on February 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bluetooth headset with buit-in camera

With the shrinking size of digital camera technology, it should be possible to fit a tiny camera into a somewhat enlarged Bluetooth headset. Transfer of photographs off the device could be via Bluetooth file transfer or via USB (which can also charge the headset!).

While the design of headsets still fluctuates to accomodate battery power, quality, features, and comfort, an innovator might be able to get this idea in motion and while the first rev may not be the most comfortable thing to wear, the idea could be useful.

Imagine the camera being oriented forward toward whatever you're looking at while you wear the headset. One of the wrap-around type of headsets could be designed so that the fit on your ear will generally get the camera to point forward, so that a mere touch of a button would snap a quick picture. With no viewfinder (unless we extend the idea to a Bluetooth earpiece/eyeglasses hybrid, or maybe a display on the handset) it would not be great for stunning photography, but if you see something happening and just want to grab a rough snapshot this should be great.

Seems like a difficult concept to get working, but possibly worthwhile.

Posted on November 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bluetooth Watches: Bluetooth is Finally Developing Into More than Headset Connection

The recent development of Bluetooth watches from Fossil are a positive sign that Bluetooth may make a greater difference to our mobile lives than just allowing wireless headsets. While other companies like Seiko have also come up with Bluetooth-equipped watches of their own, Fossil has made them stylish, basing the new gadgets on already-popular designs in their existing watch lineup.

While they seem to be focused on Sony-Ericsson phones right now, a wider support for phone manufacturers (isn't Bluetooth about standards and interoperability?) could advance their popularity.

Why is this significant? Well, for the users of Sony-Ericsson phones, they no longer have to even touch their phone or pull it out of their pocket. Their watch can tell them who's calling, and will allow them to silence or reject the call right from the watch. If they choose to answer the call, they can answer it with their headset, leaving their phone completely untouched.

The increasingly advanced features of today's mobile phones sometimes seem to get in the way of the basic task of making and receiving phone calls while on the run. Now the potential exists for segmenting this functionality from the phone, using it as a hub for its most common task, and therefore making the interface for phone calls much more intuitive. When you can answer and place calls (even with voice dialing!) without even needing the phone to be in your hand, that's a dramatic improvement in how intuitive our communications can become. Then the phone's onboard user interface could be tuned even further to allow the advanced features to be less confined by the constraints of the phone form factor.

If I hadn't just gotten my Motorola E815 (I know, it's an older model, but it's well-documented on Howardforums and is therefore very customizable) I would be considering adopting this suite. Perhaps future models will allow interoperability with Motorola phones, although that probably depends on what Bluetooth profiles are enabled on the phones themselves.

And to those who like to repeatedly point out on Slashdot that they left watch-wearing behind when they realized they could just pull their phone out of their pocket to check the time, I can now point out that if you get one of these watches (and you are lucky enough to have the right phone...) you really don't even have to take the phone out of your pocket to answer calls or check the time anymore.

Posted on October 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sidekick 3 With Bluetooth Should Support Tethering

If the FCC documents that leaked out are any indication, the Sidekick 3 (Hiptop) will include some sort of Bluetooth capability.

No doubt, this will be used with a headset profile, but what about the huge potential in allowing Bluetooth tethering to a laptop? The Hiptop is a very useful device today even without Bluetooth... I can receive email from multiple accounts over POP3 or IMAP. And the web browser works pretty nicely as well, especially with the recent addition of a Javascript interpreter.

A Bluetooth unit would allow a wireless headset first of all, making phone calls a more comfortable affair. Perhaps if there are MP3 capabilities that are used in conjunction with the new MicroSD slot, Bluetooth can also be used to drive stereo headsets. But a great use would be to allow data service to computers via tethering, something that many other T-Mobile phones support today.

T-Mobile, keep up the great work and make sure to allow tethering on the upcoming Sidekick 3. I'm sure many of us would even be willing to pay a few dollars extra for the freedom, on top of our existing unlimited data plans.

Otherwise, you're making the MDA a much more attractive option with its WiFi, Bluetooth, and wider application support via WM5, including video playback. The Sidekick 3, which is rumored to be launching this summer according to, is widely believed to have similar capabilities minus the WiFi. I won't call WM5 a definitive gain because as I've written many times before, the Hiptop OS is a wonderful approach with its own set of strengths too . I will be seriously considering the MDA, however, if the Sidekick 3 falls short. (Don't even bother bringing up the Mototola Q, launched by Verizon - I can live with GPRS speeds as long as Verizon's EDGE plans are so pricey)

Posted on May 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Second iGo Wallpower 6500 Power Adapter Fails

In February I wrote about how I exchanged my first iGo Wallpower adapter for a new unit after the first one ceased powering my iBook and decided instead to emit a bizarre buzzing sound.

A few short months later, I'm sorry to report that the second adapter has gone bad. This one emits no noise, but gets very hot very fast. I imagine I was lucky to discover this before my home was incinerated.

I'm left with a dilemma- do I begin shouting at iGo in hopes of getting a new unit (I pay shipping and handling), or do I just go get a new Apple adapter? Well, despite my concerns over the thin wire on the Apple adapter, I'm leaning toward getting it because the thin wire is my only material concern.

The iGo system is a really great concept, but if I can't trust the hardware then what good is it? If they send me a third unit, how can I be sure it's safe after two incidents that indicate the opposite? Should I really have to install a halon fire protection system just to use what should be a simple power adapter?

The original iBook power adapter that came with my iBook was of the yo-yo design and lasted for years, until the unit was damaged by my own lack of care. I've taken good care of the iGo device, and two of them have failed utterly.

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Posted on May 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Origami Update

Quick update to the previous post: Origami's price will probably range between $600-$1000, but Bill Gates believes that a $500 price point could be achieved with careful selection of components.  Yikes, I wonder what that could mean... how carefully do you select components to make something less expensive?

The battery life is to be something like 3-4 hours of use, so it's not too different from an efficient laptop. No huge advancements in power consumption or battery life were made with the UltraMobile PC, as had been rumored.

Still, I will likely be quite tempted when I see them on the store shelves.

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Posted on March 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Origami Revealed: The Ultra-Mobile PC

Here it is: the Origami Project from Microsoft has been unveiled, and it's pretty consistent with the rumors. It's similar to a Tablet PC except with a smaller, handheld form factor that's too big to be a pocket computer but a bit more compact and portable than a tablet. And it runs the full install of Windows XP, eventually to include Vista.

The MS site is light on details, but it gives two  models pictured on the page with the promise of more to come.  Powered by the Celeron M, we may one day see Linux running on these devices. They have decent hard drives, around 60 gigs, and USB connectivity as well as WiFi.

I have to admit that if the pricing is good, I may be tempted in spite of my preference for Mac OS X.

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Posted on March 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The iGo Power Adapter

Today over lunch hour I visited the local Radio Shack to exchange my iGo Wallpower 6500. The Radio Shack staffer, whom I believe was a manager at that store, was very accomodating, exchanging the unit without giving me any hassle. The previous unit, I had for just a couple of months before it ceased putting out current to my iBook and began instead emitting a high-pitched whine that sounded as though the thing could blow up at any second. Hopefully that was a fluke and this one will last for some time.

The Apple Adapter had such a thin wire that it got damaged very easily, and Apple adapters aren't cheap. Therefore, I decided to get a more robust solution. The iGo has a heaver, more solid construction. But the cool thing is the iTips, which are interchangable tips that adapt the unit to one of a whole slew of different mobile devices. Mobile phones, mp3 players, laptops, you name it, it's likely they have a tip for it. No need to worry about voltage settings- it's all built in to the tip itself, which is a large factor in my buying decision.

As if interchangable tips aren't enough, you can swap out the iGo power unit as well, from a wall unit to a car unit, to airplane use, etc.  I'll be sticking with the wall unit for now, because I don't tend to travel with my laptop.

I'm hoping this unit lasts... I will be sure to make note of it here if it doesn't!

Posted on February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Developments from Motorola

Motorola's announcement of the ROKR E2, which will apparently not include Apple's iTunes Mobile version, has been bounces around the blogosphere as an unfortunate, but inevitable outcome of the poor design limitations of the ROKR E1. The 100 song limit and brick form factor put many off the ROKR E1, even though the iTunes mobile app was expected to be killer.

The ROKR E2 is to include Motorola's own iRadio functionality. iRadio looks promising as a competitor to XM and Sirius satellite radio services- digital radio programming on the go. But what does Motorola have to contribute to the mix, and why might they be a force to be reckoned with?

iRadio Features

iRadio will have a similar programming format to Sirius and XM- digital audio channels carrying diverse content to a portable player. But a key difference is the player itself. iRadio will be carried on mobile phones.  This gives a device which many people already carry on their person with a receiver for terrestrial digital radio wherever their carrier's network allows. A bookmarking feature allows the user to hit a button on their phone to mark a song they hear and like, which they will be able to download through the carrier's music service of choice either over the air or on their PC when they get home.  The audio quality is said to be higher than satellite radio, and plays over Bluetooth stereo headsets.

iPod Still in the Picture

Something else Motorola announced that everyone seems to have ignored is the Media Duo. This is a bundled Bluetooth adaptor for current-gen iPods with a Motorola stereo headset. The bundle allows wireless iPodding, and when the user's Bluetooth-compatible phone gets a call, they can easily pause the music and answer the call.  A nice feature of the ROKR E1, the pause capability will be a welcome addition to regular iPod use.

Motorola in the Home

Mototola has also announced a push in the direction of home media networking. They plan to release set-top boxes that are capable of using the internal coaxial wiring of many homes (wired for cable TV) as a network for shuttling content between different devices in different rooms. The overall theme of CES this year appears to be online video, with many vendors announcing Media Center PC ventures, especially those embracing Intel's new Viiv marketing initiative. Many other announcements involved HD-DVD, and even holographic storage. Motorola is certainly not behind the trends in this case, having a set of strong offerings that should compete well in the marketplace if positioned correctly.

Below is an extended quote from the Motorola press release for more detail:

...the Motorola ROKR E2 delivers an optimized multimedia experience. With up to 2GB of removable SD™ mass memory*, ROKR E2 lets you store as many as 500 of your favorite tunes, and wirelessly stream music from your handset to compatible Bluetooth®-stereo-enabled devices. And, oh yes, you also can make and receive phone calls, take pictures, send text messages and much more. All with one Motorola mobile handset – “the device formerly known as the cell phone.”

iRadio™ Digital Music Service. The award-winning Motorola iRadio debuts its subscription service with 435 commercial-free channels and a listening experience that seamlessly follows you from home to car to headphones. It’s a complete audio experience enabled by the one device you’re never without – your mobile handset.

O ROKR Sunglasses. Building on the excitement around the innovative RAZRWIRE™ Bluetooth enabled eyewear, Motorola and Oakley do it again with O ROKR™, the world’s first sunglasses featuring integrated, Bluetooth stereo technology for wireless communications and wire-free music enjoyment. Go wirelessly incognito as you stream music from your compatible mobile handset or portable music player equipped with a separately available add-on Bluetooth adapter.

Audex™ Burton Jacket Series. Audex Burton jackets deliver a new high for mountain- and mogul-loving audiophiles! Combining Burton’s active sportswear for snowboarding, Motorola mobile communications and Bluetooth wireless technology, Audex Burton jackets enable hands-free fun and mobility – again, taking wearable communication to new heights of fun and functionality.

Motorola Music Duo. At last, iPod™ can deliver the music without the wires! Music Duo – a combination of the TEN Technology naviPlay™ Bluetooth® Adapter for iPod™ and the Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones – lets you stream music from your iPod** to your Motorola Bluetooth Stereo headphones. Now you don’t have to miss a beat – or a call! With the Music Duo, you’re in control – and in charge. Listen to your music, pause to take your calls, and resume playing music when you’re done.

JBL On Tour™ Mobile. Optimized to work with your favorite Motorola music-enabled phones, JBL on Tour Mobile portable music box and speakerphone connects with your mobile phone and fills your room with music while you stay connected to your calls.


Mobile TV Solutions. On-demand entertainment meets your wireless lifestyle! See how Motorola is combining leadership in mobile devices, wireless and broadband networks and digital video encoding to drive broadcast-mobile convergence. This must-see experience will demonstrate live television streaming to an automobile headrest and to your mobile device.

Whole-Home Media Software. Seamlessly access stored digital entertainment – whether high-definition video on a DVR, music on a laptop or pictures on a digital camera – from any connected device in your home. Or, if you’re out and about, view recordings synched from your Motorola DVR to a mobile device.

Digital Set-Tops with Integrated Home Media Networking. Create a connected home network to access and share high-definition content through the existing coaxial cable in the walls of your home. These new set-tops also support high-definition digital video recording, video-on-demand, an interactive program guide and other technologies. Verizon Communications is deploying this product as part of the Verizon FiOS™ TV service now available in parts of Texas, Virginia and Florida.

Posted on January 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sony PSP Firmware Update Adds RSS and WMA

As reported in an uncharacteristically short entry on Robin Good's site, Sony has released a new firmware update to the PSP that allows RSS reading and WMA audio on the handheld device. Alongside TiVo2Go adding PSP support for television, we're seeing this gaming handheld become quite a useful and interesting machine. Perhaps I will get my hands on one to see where the limits lie.

Posted on November 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack