Ars Technica has a steller report on the South Carolina state legislature’s recent passage of a bill that “effectively makes it difficult, if not impossible” for town and city governments to create their own municipal Wi-Fi networks — networks that are aimed at giving citizens taxpayer-funded, free-to-use Internet service. The two big powers behind the legislation, Ars reports, were AT&T and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that creates corporate-friendly model legislation for state legislators to pass. ALEC’s primary objection to municipal Wi-Fi, it seems, is that it might compete with private Wi-Fi services and put the squeeze on incumbent carriers’ profitability. More →
A recent report from The Verge has confirmed that Apple’s new iPad does not support FaceTime video calling over LTE networks. When trying to initiate a FaceTime call over 4G, the user is prompted to first connect to a Wi-Fi network. The news comes as little surprise since FaceTime on Apple’s iPhone is also limited to Wi-Fi. Verizon and AT&T’s 4G LTE networks are faster than some Wi-Fi connections however, and it is disappointing to say the least that the service isn’t supported. Oddly enough, the iPad does support a mobile hotspot feature, at least on Verizon, and users can successfully make a FaceTime call from an iPhone while tethered to the iPad. At this time it is unclear whether FaceTime’s Wi-Fi limitation is Apple’s decision or a move requested by wireless carriers. Verizon and AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment. More →
Internet-enabled televisions have become the next big thing. LG, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp, among others, offer TV sets with apps and Wi-Fi connectivity. Just because someone has an Internet TV, however, doesn’t mean he or she it using it. “People are buying connected TVs, but they are not all using them,” said Norm Bogen, vice president for digital entertainment at research firm NPD In-Stat. According to a survey conducted by In-Stat, only 47% of all people who own an Internet-enabled TV have it connected to the Web, reports TechNewsDaily. Among those that are connected to home networks, a majority of the TV’s features go unused. “I think that people like some aspects of smart TVs,” said Paul Gagnon, the director of DisplaySearch. “Social networking and games — those are pretty lightly used. People type on laptops and mobile devices.” Gagnon explains that televisions’ ugly and cluttered user interfaces could be the reason for the lack of enthusiasm. “They’re very, very complex and unintuitive user interfaces,” he said. More →
We’re big fans of Verizon Wireless’ Novatel Mi-Fi 4510L 4G LTE hotspot, and now you can pick one up for just $49.99 with a new two-year contract — a $50 savings over the original launch price. If a hotspot isn’t quite your style, Verizon is also offering Novatel’s USB551L 4G LTE USB modem for just $19.99 with a new two-year contract. We’ve been blown away by Verizon’s 4G speeds, and we’re told the sale will only last until July 18th, so be sure to check these out if you’re in the market for a new mobile broadband product. More →
Samsung on Thursday announced the nationwide availability of its latest Android tablet starting Friday, June 17th. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 features the latest version of Google’s tablet OS — Android 3.1 Honeycomb — as well as a 10.1-inch WXGA display, Samsung’s TouchWiz UX and a 7,000 mAh battery for up to 9 hours of continuous usage per charge. We reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 last month and found the hardware to be outstanding. Google’s Honeycomb OS left much to be desired, but the Android 3.1 update has been added since our review and several key issues have been addressed. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is priced at $499 for the 16GB model and $599 for the 32GB model, perfectly in line with Apple’s iPad 2. Samsung’s full press release can be found below. More →
Motorola Mobility announced the Televation on Monday, a new device that plugs into a Wi-Fi router and uses your home network to stream live television to connected IP devices. Once it’s plugged into a router, it will automatically translate programming from MPEG-2 to MPEG 4 and match a device’s resolution to display content properly. Motorola is also providing Android and iOS SDKs so that its customers will be able to develop custom applications for finding shows and other content offered by cable providers. “Consumers love entertainment, and want easy access to TV no matter where they are in the home,” said John Burke, senior vice president and general manager, Converged Experiences, Motorola Mobility. “Coupled with the explosive popularity of tablet devices, this represents a terrific opportunity for MSOs [multiple system operators, or cable companies] to increase customer satisfaction while generating new revenue.” Unfortunately, it sounds like Televation will not be a direct-to-consumer product, and will instead be offered to Motorola’s cable partners, so pricing has not yet been announced. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Thursday that the city will soon offer free Wi-Fi in 20 of its parks. AT&T will power the service, which will be available in popular spots such as Prospect Park, Battery Park, and Central Park, later this summer, but New Yorkers can already surf for free in Battery Bosque Park, the Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx, and Thomas Jefferson Park, among others. The public will have ad-free access to the free networks for at least the next five years. No word on whether you’ll actually be able to use an AT&T phone for voice calling in the parks, however.
[Via The New York Times] More →
Best Buy announced on Thursday that it will be the exclusive retailer of the Wi-Fi HTC Flyer when it lands in stores and online on May 22nd. The Flyer is a 7-inch Android tablet with a 1.5GHz single core processor, a 4,000 mAh battery, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, HDMI-out, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chats. It was originally announced during Mobile World Congress in February, where we had a chance to get up close for a hands-on. Best Buy has not yet revealed how much the tablet will cost but with the 22nd three short days away, we won’t have long to wait to find out. Hit the jump for the full announcement. More →
Last week a screenshot leaked suggested T-Mobile would reintroduce free unlimited Wi-Fi calls beginning on May 11th. That day passed without an announcement, but on Monday GigaOm obtained a confirmation from a T-Mobile representative that confirms customers can now place unlimited Wi-Fi calls without consuming their monthly minute allotment. Here’s what the T-Mobile rep had to say:
T-Mobile is excited to expand our Wi-Fi Calling feature, a unique and valuable service T-Mobile has been offering customers for over three years. Starting today, T-Mobile customers can add Free Wi-Fi Calling to their rate plan – at no additional charge – to place calls over Wi-Fi without deducting from their allotment of minutes. This new feature is available at T-Mobile retail stores to all customers on Even More and Even More Plus Postpaid rate plans who have Wi-Fi Calling capable handsets.
GigaOm says the feature is available on Android devices that have the pre-installed Smart Wi-Fi application, which suggests that this feature isn’t available for T-Mobile users looking for unlimited calling on UMA-equipped BlackBerry smartphones — at least for the time being. More →
While Sprint has yet to announce a release date for RIM’s Wi-Fi-only BlackBerry PlayBook or the WiMAX-enabled BlackBerry 4G PlayBook, the former was recently rumored to be set for a May 8th launch. According to a purported communication sent from Sprint to dealers, however, the launch may have been pushed back. “The launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet has been delayed for all Dealers,” the supposed note from Sprint states. “The new launch date will be communicated as soon as it is available.” The cause of the delay is not specified, though initial sales are believed by some analysts to be exceeding expectations, which may have caused supply constraints. Others believe the large quantities of Apple iPad 2 units being produced by Chinese manufacturers are causing manufacturing delays for various Apple competitors. Then again, Sprint may be waiting for an imminent software update from RIM that will add various much needed functionality currently missing from the PlayBook, such as an email client and BlackBerry Messenger support. More →
LG officially announced the long rumored LG Optimus Big on Friday, making it the Korean firm’s largest Android smartphone to date. The Optimus Big runs Android 2.2, sports a 4.3-inch Nova Display, and is equipped with an HDMI-out port, a 1GHz processor, a 5-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and a 1,500 mAh battery. The NOVA Display is the star of that spec sheet though, and we loved the rich colors and deep blacks when we first saw it on the Optimus Black. The Optimus Big will make its debut on Korea’s LG U+ on April 28th and there’s no word if this beast will swim itself to the United States — but we’d welcome it with open arms if it did. More →
When EA launched NBA Jam for the iPhone and iPod touch in February, there was one glaring omission: the ability to dunk on your friends. On Thursday EA fixed that by updating the game with local multiplayer, which means you’ll be able to take to the court and play against your buddies using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. If you use an iPad, there’s more good news – EA also launched NBA Jam HD for $9.99. NBA Jam has been a staple on our devices since its debut, and it’s been updated with the current NBA roster, too. Lace up those Nike’s and install the update. More →
The 3DS, Nintendo’s latest portable gaming platform and the first with a 3D display, made its U.S. debut on March 27th. Nintendo moved 400,000 units on launch day in Japan, and Amazon U.K. said the device broke console pre-order records as well. So, being the subway riding gamer that I am, I knew I had to find out what all this hype was about. I took it for a spin over the last week, staying up late trying to beat games and carrying it in my backpack to rock on the subway. And now, after a week of 3D gaming, it’s time to drop the hammer and see if the 3DS really is worthy of all that hype.More →