The Flip is just flippin’ cool

The Flip offers one of those rare occasions where a lack of bells and whistles makes a device great. The device records “good” video with the simple “point and click” ease you find in digital cameras.

flip-video-ultra-camcorder The built-in LCD provides a good view of content without sucking the batteries dry too  fast, and connecting the device to your PC is as simple as flipping the USB connector out of the side of the device.

Editing and sharing content is also simplified through one touch software included with the device. Overall, the Flip makes it easy to capture and share decent quality video at a reasonable price. Flip models range from $129.00 to 179.00.

More information can be found at http://www.theflip.com.

Clash of the ‘bling phone’ titans – missing the mark

Last year, Apple released the iPhone on the ATT network to much criticism and acclaim for the design and interface. This year, Google launched their iPhone competitor – the Android based phone HTC G1 on the T-Mobile network. Both of these devices are great when it comes to playing media, surfing the web, and looking cool. But there is a major glaring flaw plaguing each of these devices.

Neither device, the iPhone or the Android phone, is geared towards corporate e-mail – the primary application for which most Smartphones/PDAs are purchased for. While the Android has a slide out keyboard, which makes typing relatively easy, it doesn’t support Microsoft Exchange push e-mail. And the iPhone, which has recently added Microsoft Exchange push capability, has nothing but an on-screen keyboard which makes it impractical for quickly typing e-mails. In fact, the iPhone’s issue is so great that one can often see frustrated iPhone users, at airports or coffee shops, jabbing angrily at the screen trying to get their messages entered.

So, the question comes up: What do I do if I want a device that is ‘cool’ like the iPhone or the Android but also handles my corporate e-mail without any cumbersome issues? The answer, unfortunately, is to wait a little longer. 

The two most promising devices that are likely to combine the ‘cool’ with the functional are the HTC Touch Pro and the BlackBerry Thunder. Both devices have touchscreens, and a multitude of media features. The HTC Touch has a slide out keyboard making it easy to type e-mails on, and because it is a Windows Mobile based device it supports your Exchange push e-mail. The BlackBerry Thunder, on the other hand, gets rid of the venerable physical keyboard that BlackBerry has been known for and replaces it with an on-screen keyboard that reviewers say, unlike the iPhone, actually works well. But, you will have to wait just a bit for the HTC Touch, due out any day in the U.S. market, and a little longer for the BlackBerry Thunder which is slated for Q4 2008.

Until devices such as these become available, I can only suggest that business users stick with their Motorla Qs, Palm Treo’s or BlackBerry devices.

Jott This Down

It never fails, my best thoughts come to me while driving. Try as I might, I never seem to remember them all. What I need is a way to “Jott” these thoughts down. I’d describe what I’ve found at http://www.jott.com as a bridge between my cell phone and the Internet.

In its simplest form Jott allows me to call a toll-free number and leave myself a message. Jott then transcribes the message and allows me to choose what I’d like to do with it. You can create Jott lists and assign items to them. You can sent jotts to contacts via SMS or e-mail. You can even Jott to other Web sites like RememberTheMIlk and Twitter.

I was fortunate and joined before Jott implemented a new mixed mode business model. I’m currently using up the remaining beta awards, and will soon have to pick one of the three service types. Jott Basic is a free ad-supported version with minimal features. Jott is $3.95/month and adds an Outlook Client. Jott Pro is 12.95/month and doubles your recording time and adds a BlackBerry application.

Gone are the days of texting myself notes from the car. Jott has made life easier for me and much safer for those driving around me. Give it a try: http://www.jott.com.

Let’s Face it: Being Social is Hard

Ok, maybe a better way to put it is, “Social Networking” can take a massive amount of time. With so many choices, just selecting which social networks to join can be difficult. Creating, managing and updating network profiles doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

Technology to the rescue. Specifically, atomkeep.

This service that allows users to sync profile information across multiple social networking sites. To get started simply visit http://www.atomkeep.com/ and create an account. All that’s needed is an e-mail address and password, no long sign-up process. Simple, easy, and no profile information is required.

Here’s how it works:

After account creation you will be asked to link existing social networking accounts into atomkeep. Once linked, you’re given an option to import and merge profile information from existing accounts into atomkeep. After linking all your accounts, simply edit your atomkeep profile and update any missing or incorrect information. Click Sync, and poof: techno-magic. All of your accounts are updated with your latest profile information. When joining new social networking sites you can simply link to atomkeep and push your profile information across.

Yes, it sounds too easy and maybe it is. Atomkeep is currently in beta but seems fairly complete, my overall experience has been positive. Atomkeep doesn’t fill out every profile perfectly every time, so you may want to double check some profiles. Still, I believe most of my profiles are more complete now than when they were without atomkeep.

I don’t see a real business model driving atomkeep, but that’s never stopped a Web2.0 success before. As with any site that stores account information for third party systems, I question the security. In this case I’ve decided atomkeep is an acceptable risk for me.

Overall it makes the grade, allowing me to sync my profile across multiple social service services. Now I just need to work on other socially acceptable behavior.

Chrome Shines While IE 8.0 Seems Dull

Google ChromeTechie channels are abuzz about Google’s new browser, Chrome. Built for speed,  Chrome has a minimalistic interface mimicking Google’s search page. This “one box for everything” browser seems foreign at first, but soon gives way to an efficient and enjoyable experience.

  • Unified Address Box
    Combines history, suggested sites, and searches which offers a quick solution to finding anything.
  • New Tab Page
    Offers a consolidated view of your most visited sites, bookmarked pages, recently closed tabs and most used searches.
  • Independent Tabs
    Each tab runs independently allowing one to fail without affecting the others.
  • Incognito Mode
    Allows users to browse websites without storing local history.

Chrome isn’t life changing, but it is a distinctly different browsing experience. Although Chrome is still in Beta, it seems stable. Installation time was under two minutes and required no reboot, so it’s well worth the effort. You can get chrome at http://www.google.com/chrome/.

While not a dramatically different browsing experience, it’s worth mentioning that Microsoft has released IE 8.0 Beta 2. A big push for IE 8.0 is browser personalization though Accelerators and Web Slices.

  • Accelerators
    IE plug-ins that allow you to utilize information on a web page by sending it to a different web page or service provider. For example: map an address with Live Maps.
  • Web Slices
    Allows users to subscribe to sections of a website. When content within that section of the website is updated, the browser notifies you and allows you to preview the information.

Overall IE 8.0 is rather boring and seems to be yet another MS catch-up browser release. The time to install is over 15 Minutes and requires a reboot. I’d say it’s not worth the effort, but if you want to try it out visit http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/default.mspx.

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