Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Review: Brookstone (Ambient Devices) Weather Wizard

brookstone-weatherwatcher.pngI bought the Brookstone Weather Wizard (which is made by Ambient Devices) as a Christmas gift for my weather junkie-girlfriend and thought I’d post a review now that we’ve been using it for over a month. And, I must say, it has delivered on its goal of allowing the viewer to get the weather forecast at a glance. For example, prior to buying it, I never checked the weather because it was so time consuming to get the weather forecast from the TV. Now, I get it in 2 seconds.

Overall, I recommend it but there are a few things you should know before you spend your hard earned cash on it:


  • The E-Ink display technology is pretty cool – it does a good job of making you feel like you’re reading ink on real paper, which is easier to read than traditional LCDs found in most other weather devices.
  • The various weather icons are very intuitive, have a ‘clean’ design, and are large enough to read from a decent viewing distance.
  • It’s the perfect size – not too big, not too small.
  • Includes a magnet so you can attach it to your fridge.
  • Includes a foldable stand so you can display it on a desk, nightstand, etc.
  • Automatically determines your location (we just inserted a pair of AAA batteries and after 5 – 10 mins the weather was displayed for Boston)
  • Clock is sychronized by satellite

Cons: Read the rest of this entry »


Filed under: Ambient Devices, Gadgets, Reviews, Technology, Weather, Wireless

iPhone includes 18 months free service? BOOYAH!

Jim Cramer (host of Mad Money on CNBC) believes AT&T (formerly known as Cingular) will offer buyers of the iPhone 18 months of free service in order to steal customers from Verizon Wireless.

If this turns out to be true (and there aren’t any asinine stipulations like signing a 5-year contract), I will definitely break my contract with T-Mobile and sign-up with AT&T. If your monthly bill is $80, your savings could be $1,440 over 18 months. However, I have a feeling it will not come to fruition or, if it does, they will only give you free data service for 18 months.

Update: As I figured, according to a Cingular rep, it looks like Jim Cramer was wrong.

Filed under: Apple, Gadgets, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Rumors, Smartphone

Another iPhone Hands-On Review

PC Mag’s Cade Metz was another person who got to use the iPhone during MacWorld…for 10 mins. He didn’t get to spend 1 hour with it like Andy Ihnatko but his opinions are very similar to Andy’s. His overall impression of the iPhone:

“Ten minutes isn’t much, but I can safely say that the iPhone is even more impressive than it appeared during the Jobs keynote. And that’s saying something.”

So far, everyone who has been able to demo the iPhone are in agreement about the following:

  • The iPhone is very easy and intuitive to use.
  • The iPhone’s multi-touch display works extremely well.
  • The performance of the iPhone is fast – no lag or hiccups when switching between applications.

This is where some of the reviews differ:

  • Most reviewers said the call/voice quality is superb but some people (perhaps, the only person), like Cade Metz, have reported that call quality was so-so.
  • People who have spent more than 5-10 minutes using the iPhone (Andy Ihnatko) felt the touch-sensitive keyboard was pretty easy to use. Those that spent 10 minutes or less feel so-so about it but pretty much all feel it will get easier with more use.

The good news: of all the hands-on reviews I’ve read, the conclusions are similar, if not, the same. The bad news (as we all know) is the multi-year exclusivity that Cingular/ATT has on the iPhone. The real question about the iPhone will be Cingular/ATT’s service and how much they will charge for the data plan (I have a feeling Cingular/ATT will create an “iPhone data plan” and charge a premium).

Filed under: Apple, Gadgets, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Reviews, Smartphone, Technology

A 45min iPhone Hands-On Review

Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times got to spend 45 mintues using the iPhone. His overall conclusion: it’s practically perfect. If you’re interested in the iPhone (who isn’t, right?), his article is worth a read. Below are my 4 primary concerns and thoughts after reading his article:

  1. Touchscreen: Apparently, it works flawlessly. I was concerned with how well and accurate it would work. After reading his article, I’m less worried about it. According to Andy, “This is the simplest phone ever” – wow, that’s a big statement. If most consumers feel the same way, then it’ll be very easy for Apple to meet their goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008 (read the 3rd to last paragraph).
  2. Keyboard: Andy states, “After 30 seconds, I was already typing faster with the iPhone than I ever have with any other phone.” That’s a pretty big statement – ’nuff said.
  3. Performance: No lags/hiccups/pauses whatsoever. This was a huge concern of mine – especially, since we don’t know how powerful the processor is. For reference, my T-Mobile Dash uses an Intel ARM processor running at 203Mhz and it can get bogged down when running several apps or running multimedia apps. What processor does the iPhone use? Rumor is Apple is using a Samsung processor at 400Mhz.
  4. Cingular Service/Network: I’ve never used Cingular (I’ve only used two cell providers: ATT Wireless and T-Mobile) so I don’t know how good the coverage is in the Boston-area nor do I know how good their EDGE network is. This being said, I have friends using Cingular in the Boston-area and they’re happy with the service. At the end of the day, we all know that surfing the web and the use of data-intensive applications will be slooow – thanks to EDGE.
  5. No 3G: I’m still baffled as to why Apple did not include a 3G-capable radio in the iPhone. Heck, Cingular is the only GSM provider in the US that has 3G and the iPhone is exclusively available on Cingular – why not take advanatage of their 3G network? Btw, there are rumors that the 2nd Gen iPhone will have 3G.

Well, this helps answer some of our questions/concerns but will a cell phone w/o any dedicated buttons be right for you? To find out, it looks like we’ll see each other at the nearest Apple Store in June! 🙂

Update: Looks like the processor may be an Intel Xscale after all.

Filed under: Apple, Gadgets, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Reviews, Smartphone, Technology