April 2006

Torq 100 GPS PPC Phone receive Traffic Message Channel
Sound Solutions announced the Torq N100 and calls it the first Pocket PC phone with an onboard receiver allowing it to support Traffic Message Channel (TMC) functions in available countries when using popular GPS applications. The N100 can thus receive regularly updated reports of the traffic conditions ahead and so alert drivers to problems. As a phone, the Samsung 400MHz S3C2440-powered N100 supports GSM quad-band 850/900/1800/1900MHz and GPRS for voice, SMS, email, Internet, and MMS. The 4.7 x 2.45 x 0.95 inch device with RAZR-style graphics uses Windows Mobile 5.0, has a 2.8-inch touch screen, 128MB Flash and 64MB SDRAM, 1 1,440mAH Li-Ion battery, mini-SD, a 1.3M pixel CMOS camera and built in microphone allowing them to capture digital images and voice memo recordings. -- Posted Friday, April 28, 2006 by chb

Sun's McNealy steps down as CEO
Sun Microsystems' irreverent CEO Scott McNealy stepped down as CEO, but will remain chairman, the same day Sun reported a disappointing net loss. Though Sun's corporate career has been far from a failure, one cannot help but wonder "what if?" When I attended a Sun User conference in 1986, Sun's incredible networked 3/50 workstations with their 19-inch screens were a decade ahead of their time and clearly showed the future. McNealy tried everything to bring Sun into the mainstream, porting Lotus 123 to the Sun, launching the "SPARC owns the desktop" initiative, giving the world Java. Yet, in the long run, Sun, sticking with its own SPARC chips and own brand of Unix, sort of painted itself into a corner. -- Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006 by chb

Guide to Wireless Handset Processors
Picking the right baseband and applications processors will be crucial for the upcoming generation of digital TV-ready multimedia phones, smartphones, 3G phones and Pocket PC phones that will have capabilities far exceeding the limited integrated cameras and vidclips of current gen products. The Linley Group's new "A Guide to Wireless Handset Processors" examines vendors, products, standards, codecs, interfaces, etc., to provide a forward-looking view of the market and long-term market directions. -- Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006 by chb

VisionObject reco now on Pentel digital pen products
Vision Objects, which provides handwriting recognition technology, and Pentel that makes the Airpen Storage Notebook announced a distribution agreement and technology partnership where Pentel will include Vision Objects’ InkMagic handwriting recognition with their note taking solution. The Pentel Airpen Storage Notebook is an electronic pen that writes with normal ink on A5 format paper. It stores up to a hundred pages of handwritten notes, diagrams and sketches in its memory that can be uploaded to a PC. Our take: All sorts of hybrid recognition solutions have been tried in various ways (see the IBM TransNote, the Seiko SmartPad, and various others), and it's good to see that these efforts continue in various parts of the world. -- Posted Monday, April 24, 2006 by chb

Can Toshiba match BEO Hydis in wide-angle displays?
We've been raving about the BEO Hydis wide-angle displays that have set a new standard of excellence in displays, especially for Tablet PCs. Now Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology announced it has incorporated optically compensated bend (OCB) and field sequential technologies into a 9-inch TFT LCD panel. OCB technology provides wide viewing angles in all directions and ultra-fast response time. Pen Computing's Technology Editor provides initial commentary on the Toshiba wide-angle approach in the Pen Reader Q&A section. -- Posted Monday, April 24, 2006 by chb

GoodLink 4.8 raises the bar in handheld device management
Good Technology introduced GoodLink 4.8. The new rev of the messaging software and service enables enterprises to deploy, centrally manage and secure growing smartphone deployments with greater flexibility and ease, unlocking the power of mobility for businesses worldwide. Additionally, users can now choose from a broad range of Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices, including the new Treo 700w smartphone from Verizon Wireless and PPC 6700 from Sprint. -- Posted Monday, April 24, 2006 by chb

QUALCOMM to demo 16-channel mobile video in Vegas
The mobile TV standards war is heating up. QUALCOMM will provide citywide coverage of FLO broadcasting during the NAB2006 show, April 24-27 in Las Vegas. FLO, a key component of MediaFLO, is an air-interface technology for multimedia content delivery to mobile handsets. The NAB2006 demonstration features multicast of 16 channels of QVGA-quality video content, audio content and data transmissions for IP datacasting applications across the city of Las Vegas. Harris Corporation will introduce a new line of television transmitters at the show that support mobile television applications using FLO technology. Harris, however, is hedging its bets by also introducing a platform for 1670 MHz Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld (DVB-H) applications, including the Modeo mobile TV service planned for the US. MediaFLO is competing with the Korean DMB and the European DVB-H standards. PAL vs NTSC vs SECAM all over?
-- Posted Monday, April 24, 2006 by chb

InPlay introduces new battery-free digital pen/digitizer
InPlay Technologies announced today that its FinePoint Innovations subsidiary has expanded its product line with the introduction of a patent-pending, battery-free computing pen system. Like FinePoint's self-powered pen technology, the new MagicPoint 820 pen is a cordless, active RF digital pen versus the analog pen used with most pen computing systems in the Tablet PC market today. Detailed info on the MagicPoint 820, including a downloadable PDF, are available from the FinePoint site. -- Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 by chb

Apple ticked at gossip sites that leak information
Apple is ticked off that online sites are spreading product information before the embargo is lifted. So much that the company is presenting its case to a California court in San Jose today. One of the questions to be settled will be whether bloggers and gossip site writers are the same as print journalists and should have the same rights, or not. Good question, actually. At Pen Computing, we've been signing NDAs and have been scrupulously observing embargos ever since we started. That means that the "news" in the Pen print version was often months old when it reached readers. Unless, of course, a company informed us of the new products way ahead of time. Over time, many companies stopped giving advance notice entirely, and we learn of a new product exactly when it is officially introduced. So punishing the gossip sites affects us as print magazine journalists. However, the line between print and online is no longer clear. These days we're spending as much time on the Pen website as on the print edition, and our new RuggedPCReview.com site is all online. -- Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 by chb

Nokia soars -- It's good to make phones
Nokia reported Q1 2006 net sales of 9.5 billion Euros (about US$12 billion), and a stunning 40% year on year device volume growth that drove a 29% net sales growth. Nokia also reported estimates of industry quarterly device volume of 215 million units, up 27% compared to the same period last year. Nokia's share for the quarter was 75.1 million units, up 40% from last year. That made for a first quarter device market share of 35%, up 3%. Nokia's net sales in the US almost doubled year on year. Our take: At that rate, we're talking an annual pace of over 800 million phones, and more and more have some sorts (or extensive) smarts. Soon, many will be able to receive digital TV and act as GPS devices. It should be very interesting to see what share of phones will eventually include full PDA functionalities, how successful those devices will be, and what the prevalent form factor will be. -- Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 by chb

Misuse of trust and funds
Almost a year ago I attended the 2005 E3 gaming show in Los Angeles. Gizmondo, makers of a most promising little gaming/communications device, had a huge presence -- an entire Vegas-style mock-up village actually. They also had plenty of enticing models and even a Porsche supercar. Well, Gizmondo is no more, having declared bankruptcy with over US$200 million in debt, and what's left is a scandalous February report of how a drunk Gizmondo executive thrashed a $1 million Ferrari Enzo in Malibu. Now there are extra charges that the wrecked Ferrari was illegally imported. Not exactly what the handheld market needs. -- Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 by chb

Handmark partners with ViaMichelin
Mobile media leader Handmark and ViaMichelin, the European expert in digital mapping and travel assistance services, announced a three-year partnership agreement under which Handmark will issue and distribute digital maps, route planning and the two world famous guides, The MICHELIN Guide and The MICHELIN Green Guide, for mobile phones and Smartphones in Europe. [See full Handmark release]

-- Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 by chb

Where are they now department: Nestor
At some point, in the dawn of the pen computing era, Nobel prize winner Dr. Charles Elbaum started Nestor and developed the NestorWriter handwriting recognizer. Today, Nestor, Inc. is a provider of video-based traffic safety solutions and services, and has roughly US$8 million in annual sales. This is an interesting case of how a handwriting recognition pioneer, instead of giving up, leveraged its neural-network software architecture experience across a variety of markets, including financial-institution credit/debit card fraud and then real-time traffic-control systems. -- Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 by chb

Alltel launches Office Sync
Alltel, owner of America's largest wireless network, is launching Office Sync, which allows users to send/receive email in real time and also view calendars and contacts from their Palm and Windows Mobile devices. Office Sync is initially available on the Treo 650 and the UTStarcom PPC-6700, a WinMo 5.0 Wi-Fi-enabled PPC. There are two versions of Office Sync. The Personal Edition delivers email, calendars and contacts from a personal desktop to a smart device. For larger businesses, the Enterprise Server Edition integrates Office Sync with a corporate server operating behind a secure firewall to deliver the information to customers' devices. Both editions are available from Alltel for $39.99 per month, including unlimited data. -- Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 by chb

Skyscape Nurses Pocket Aide for mobile platforms
Skyscape, Inc., specializing in mobile point-of-care decision support solutions, announced the release of “Prentice Hall Nurse’s Drug Guide 2006” formatted specially for PDAs and smart phones. The comprehensive guide provides safe, effective, current, and accurate drug administration information in a quickly accessible format. The fully revised 2006 edition includes the latest drugs approved by the FDA with key nursing implications highlighted throughout. This is the only drug guide to include Prototype Drugs for easier learning. Available for Palm OS, Windows Mobile Pocket PCs and smartphones, and Tablet PCs. -- Posted Monday, April 17, 2006 by chb

New release of Vision Objects' MyScript Builder product line
The natural handwriting recognition technology specialists at Vision Objects announced the release of MyScript Builder 4.1, MyScript Form 1.1 and MyScript InkSearch 2.0. These versions feature new functionalities and additional language support enabling system integrators to develop applications for form processing and note taking in a wide range of Western and Asian languages. -- Posted Friday, April 14, 2006 by chb

Virginia Tech's Tablet PC requirement controversial
TMCNet reports on the Virginia Tech University College of Engineering's unprecedented step of requiring incoming freshmen to buy a Tablet PC as part of its technology requirement. The article cites general criticism on the requirement to buy a notebook as students supposedly use it in only a few courses. Others are concerned about the price gap between Tablet PCs and standard notebooks (similar concerns were voiced four years ago when the college required notebooks over desktops). Others felt tablets should be a recommendation and not a requirement. Perhaps the most interesting criticism was that Tablet PCs are "a solution to a problem that does not exist." [see report][see our report "Buying a Tablet PC for College"] -- Posted Friday, April 14, 2006 by chb

NAVTEQ GPS mapping adds live traffic reports
NAVTEQ and CBS RADIO have teamed up to begin offering a new traffic information service via the Radio Data System (RDS) protocol. Through the use of CBS RADIO's transmission facilities in major metropolitan markets across the country with a combined population of more than 120 million people, NAVTEQ Traffic RDS is displayed on Portable Navigation Devices and PDAs. RDS traffic information enables navigation systems to display personalized, real-time traffic information for a driver's chosen route and adjacent alternative routes. The new NAVTEQ Traffic RDS service links up- to-the minute traffic information to map data and enables wireless transmission directly to a navigation device. -- Posted Monday, April 10, 2006 by chb

Homebuyers see streaming video on their PDAs
12 years after I baffled my real estate agent by taking notes and doodling skeches about homes on my Apple Newton MessagePad, Modavox, Inc. in conjunction with Arizona Home Previews.com, is launching "Video Home Showing" so potential home buyers can download instant streaming videos of homes for sale directly to Windows Mobile PDAs and cell phones using Sprint, Verizon, and Cingular. Potential buyers can view a home's interior in full, narrated video tours. -- Posted Monday, April 10, 2006 by chb

Fastech's mobile web-based survey solution
Fastech, a provider of mobile, retail merchandising solutions for the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry, introduced FastLink, an innovative Web-based survey technology to measure and respond to the needs of retail customers. Data is managed through wireless laptops, PDAs and cell phones. The system is fast and flexibility in designing surveys, as well as capturing and analyzing data that can be exported to Excel or CSV format for distribution and analysis. -- Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 by chb

HP introduces Gesture Keyboard to enter complex characters
HP announced an interesting pen-based technology developed at HP Labs India that could benefit over 1.5 billon non-Emglish speakers to enter the Kannada and other phonetic scripts to be recorded and stored directly on the computer. The technology could potentially open up the power of computing to vast numbers of new users, all in their own language and without prior knowledge of English or typing. Unlike other prevailing Indic language entry methods which either use bilingual keyboards or display the Indic keyboard layout on a monitor, the gesture-based keyboard is a low-cost (about US$50) and rugged solution that helps solve the phonetic language entry problem by allowing users to input data the way most people learn to write – with a pen. [see HP release][see keyboard layout image] -- Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 by chb

O3SIS synch client for WinMo PPC and Smartphones
O3SIS Information Technology, a provider of personal mobile applications and Over-the-Air data synchronization (DS) technology for first tier mobile network operators, today announced its new SyncML synchronization client for Pocket PC and WinMo Smartphones such as the Palm Treo 700 and HP iPAQ Mobile Messenger Series. -- Posted Thursday, April 6, 2006 by chb

Microsoft Direct Push Technology for Treo 700w
Palm announced a software update for the Treo 700w smartphone from Verizon Wireless that will enable the Windows Mobile Messaging and Security Feature Pack, which includes Direct Push Technology. The free update, which is expected to be available later this month, gives Treo 700w smartphone users fast, automatic wireless updates of their email, calendar items, contacts and tasks, allowing IT managers to deliver this information directly from Exchange Server 2003 SP2 without incurring additional third-party infrastructure costs. -- Posted Thursday, April 6, 2006 by chb

Modeo shows HTC-made TV smartphone
Modeo is showing a HTC-made production-ready DVB-H integrated WinMo 5.0 smartphone at CTIA. The handset uses a 200MHz TI OMAP850 processor, has Bluetooth, WiFi, a 1.3mp camera, micro-SD. TV and video are shown on a 2.2-inch QVGA landscape display at up to 30 fps. A 1150 mAH Li-Ion battery provides up to three hours of TV, four hours talk time or six days of standby. Size is 4.1 x 2.2 x 0.6, weight 4.23 ounces. The Modeo mobile TV architecture includes a DiBcom DVB-H Demodulator, Microtune Mobile MicroTuner MT2260 and an NVIDIA Go-Force 5500 handheld graphics processing unit. Modeo plans to launch the network and its mobile broadcast center during 2006 in select major U.S. markets. -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

TI showcases Mobile TV solution
At CTIA Texas Instruments showcases live Mobile TV on its single-chip mobile digital TV DVB-H solution, the DTV1000 Hollywood chip (DTV1000). The demo includes the DTV1000 single-chip solution; TI's OMAP2420 application processor; PacketVideo's pvTV client solution optimized for Microsoft Windows Media; Silicon & Software Systems Ltd.'s (S3's) onHandTV DVB-H Mobile DTV software stack; and SRS Labs' WOW HD for improved audio performance. [see Mobile TV overview] -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

.mobi web addresses?
Mobile Top Level Domain announced the availability of the first and only Internet address created for mobile phones: ".mobi". The dotMobi Internet address is meant to clearly indicate Internet sites and applications that are designed for consumers on the go. By 2008, 1.3 billion people will connect to the Internet through mobile devices -- a frustrating experience when hitting PC-class websites. dotMobi sites, designed in accordance with mTLD rules and practices, ensures that sites can be viewed and navigated by any mobile phone and other mobile device. Will it fly? -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

Orb partners with Hauppauge to bring TV to mobiles
By adding Hauppauge's WinTV products and Orb's software to any Windows XP PC, you can now watch TV on mobile phones and PDAs from anywhere. Right from the native Web browser and streaming media player of their mobile phone or PDA, consumers can watch live TV, previously recorded shows, and schedule future recordings. The free Orb software on the home PC streams TV to any mobile device with a Windows, Real, or 3gp streaming player. This includes Symbian, Palm, Windows Mobile, and BREW platforms. -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

VoiceSignal's VoiceMode 2.0: talk to text
VoiceSignal announced that top mobile phone OEMs will begin shipping its VoiceMode continuous dictation solution this summer. VoiceMode 2.0 delivers large vocabulary, continuous dictation embedded in the mobile device. It can input text into any application running in the mobile device including email, SMS, IM, calendar and more. VoiceSignal's portfolio of "no-training" embedded speech solutions will ship on more than 100 million handsets through the end of 2006.

-- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

QUALCOMM demonstrates MediaFLO at CTIA
QUALCOMM announced that its MediaFLO subsidiary will conduct a live, over-the-air demonstration of MediaFLO USA's datacast application capabilities during CTIA Wireless 2006. MediaFLO competes with the Korean DMB and the European DVB-H standards to deliver broadcast video to mobile devices, i.e. the stakes are high. -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

MobiTV integrates current cell nets with DVB-H
MobiTV, which provides TV and digital radio services for cellular, WiFi and broadband-enabled devices, announced it has integrated today's cellular networks with forthcoming DVB-H technologies to deliver live and on-demand television via both unicast and broadcast networks in one seamless unified service solution. MobiTV has already announced support for several other network delivery standards including DMB, MBMS, BCMCS, TDtv, WiMax, and WiFi. -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

Free AvantGo now on Alltel network
iAnywhere, a subsidiary of Sybase, and Alltel, owner of the nation's largest wireless network, announced that the two companies will jointly market the popular (and free) AvantGo mobile Internet service to Alltel subscribers. [Alltel customers sign up free] -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

Broadcom introduces HSDPA mobile phone processor
Broadcom announced the BCM2152 High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) compliant cellular baseband processor capable of delivering 7.2 Mbps download speed, multimedia functionality, and an ARM11 applications processor. The chip supports Bluetooth and WiFi, has built-in multimedia support including an up-to-5 megapixel camera, multimedia encode and decode at 30 frames per second at CIF or QVGA resolutions, and integrates HDSPA and EDGE data paths as hardware accelerators to reduce power requirements and to offload CPU cycles for applications processing. -- Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 by chb

MobiTV comes to Windows Mobile
Already available for some Palm devices, MobiTV announced collaboration with Microsoft to bring the MobiTV service and user experience to Windows Mobile-powered phones and devices. MobiTV and Microsoft will be demonstrating the delivery of live television via the MobiTV Service to a Windows Mobile-powered Pocket PC over cellular and WiFi networks at the CTIA Wireless show. -- Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 by chb

GDA shows smartphone reference design engineered in India
Not all smartphone designs originate in the US, Japan, Taiwan, China or Korea. At the Embedded Systems Conference, GDA Technologies, Inc. showed a modular smartphone reference board based on the Freestyle i.MX31 multimedia application processor that was engineered entirely by GDA's Indian branch. Currently running the OPIE environment with Embedded Linux, it will also support Windows Smartphone and Symbian. -- Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 by chb

Sony's Reader eBook to be sold at Borders
We've seen many attempts at eBooks over the years, but none as promising as the Sony Reader introduced at this year's CES. The 6.9 x 4.9 inch Reader is smaller than many paperbacks and just half an inch thick. It weighs 9 ounces and its rechargeable battery lasts up to 7,500 pages. The Reader's 64MB internal memory holds up to 80 books, and more on MemorySticks or SD Card. Sony now announced that the Reader will be sold at Borders bookstores, but the eBooks themselves must be purchased and downloaded from connect.com, Sony's own content store. The Reader uses E Ink technology that uses microcapsules that make for a true black on white reading experience and offer direct sunlight readability and a near 180 degree viewing angle. [See Sony Reader site] -- Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 by chb

HTC gets order for over half a million PDAs from Harris
According to Digitimes, Harris, which has been seleced by the US Census Bureau for a 5-year field data collection automation program, placed an order with Taiwanese PDA maker HTC for 500,000 to 650,000 units. Digitimes also reports that according to Merryl Lynch, HTC's 2005 revenues broke down as follows: 60% PDA phones, 24% smartphones, and 16% traditional PDAs. -- Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 by chb

Why does your phone have a cable, dad?
As the number of cell phone users continues to grow, so do phone options like Internet and email capabilities. According to the AP-AOL-PEW Research Center Mobile Lifestyle Survey, 51 percent of those surveyed plan to or currently do use their phone to access maps via online. The survey also found the use of landlines among young adults is becoming extinct – 40% of those between the ages of 18 to 29 say they are dropping their landline service. -- Posted Monday, April 3, 2006 by chb