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All posts tagged "wifi"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Engadget Reviews MiFi 2200 Wireless Router

Posted by Ed Hansberry in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 12:00 PM


"Put simply, our hats go off to Novatel and Verizon on this one. The MiFi is drop-dead awesome in basically every meaningful way, and we'd be shocked if every top-tier carrier in the world wasn't actively looking into adding it -- or a device very similar to it -- into their lineup. Unless you have a very specific, compelling reason that you require an ExpressCard or a USB stick style modem, the MiFi's simplicity, flexibility, tethering capability, and no-compromise performance make it the way to go for your mobile data needs."

Engadget has reviewed the new MiFi 2200 wireless router for use on the Verizon network. This little credit card sized device may be the perfect companion for some of you when you need WiFi access and there isn't a Starbucks to be found.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ina Fried Tests Zune Hotspots in San Francisco

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 08:00 PM


"One of the nice things about Microsoft's new Zune is that it can download or stream songs at a hot spot. The downside: the music player won't work at just any hot spot. The big limit is that the Wi-Fi locale not only has to be free, but also of the variety that doesn't pop up a browser window before letting users online. That's because unlike the iPod Touch, the Zune has no browser."

In a repeat of her performance two years ago when she pretended to be surprised that, a mere two weeks after the device's 1.0 launch, she couldn't find another Zune owner with whom to share tracks, CNet's Ina Fried is back again, this time performing her own survey of Zune-friendly hotspots in town. Fried hits up the downtown San Francisco area and a selection of ten coffee shops, restaurants, and retail locations (including a surprising result at the Apple store), searching for a public wifi network that won't require a browser to connect. She finds that the device works at only four of the locations. Fried's point is obvious; most of the public wifi spots nowadays require some form of browser-based "I accept" page to allow you onto the network. This is a glaring oversight in Zune's implementation, to be sure, but building a browser would open another huge can of worms (literally) for Zune to address. Personally, I haven't used the new wifi features much, but when I have this restriction hasn't been that big of an issue. Let us know: is Zune's lack of browser a deal-beaker for you?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Zune Patent App Promises Recommendations Via Wifi

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Content Creation & Management" @ 07:30 PM


"A newly posted Microsoft Patent Application appears to describe technology that would provide automatic downloads to a Zune media player if newly tracks from various artists whose work is already stored on Zune or on a user’s PC-based library becomes available....Say you have five Dave Matthews Band tracks already stored on your Zune. Dave puts out some new tracks. A music service could flag a track for promotion, and that track could automatically be pushed down to a Zune- or your PC media library- in much the same way Windows Updates are pushed through to users."

This is really cool. It seems like a logical extension of podcasting, and if it could sync to the device directly, all the better. Granted, I'm typically on top of the releases from my favorite artists, but if it was coupled with an intelligent recommendation system (a la Pandora or Urge's AutoMix), and only pushed ones it really thinks I'll like, this could be amazing. I love discovering new music, Microsoft loves pushing its partners' new songs. It's a win-win.

At the same time, this has the potentially to be really annoying. Let's say I was in the mood for some Dave Matthews one day, and I start downloading his albums like mad. I check my library a few days later to actually listen to the songs, and find I really and truly hate most of them, but the Zune recommendations keep coming.... Ahh!

Plus, if the recommendation system is poorly implemented (which would never happen...right?), I'd be getting hardcore hip hop on my mostly folk-rock Zune or vice-versa. We'll see how this plays out.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Zune's New WiFi Competition: The Venzero LINQ

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 05:00 PM


"Who wouldn’t love to have online radio on the go? The new Wi-Fi enabled Venzero LINQ, which will first be presented to the public at the IFA trade show in Berlin, turns this dream into reality. In addition to Wi-Fi capability, the Venzero LINQ also offers other enticing features. The quickly increasing number of WLAN hotspots and the versatile Venzero LINQ make it possible to catch your favourite internet radio stations virtually anywhere: the integrated Wi-Fi receiver lets you to listen to online radio streams. Thanks to the useful feature to sort by genre, country and language, you can easily choose from the wide variety of internet radio stations. You can even bookmark your favourites. Via Wi-Fi you can also stream music from your PC’s Windows™ Media Player 11."

It looks like the Zune has some new competition in the form of the Venzero LINQ. I've never heard of this player, or even this company, but they've using WiFi in a different, but more practical way than the Zune is. I think the Sansa Connect has the best use of WiFi features so far, but I guarantee that I'd want to listen to Internet radio or stream music off my computer at home (locally, while I'm at home) more often than I get the opportunity to share music that times out with another Zune user.

I really had high hopes for the WiFi on the Zune, but wasn't too surprised when out of the box it didn't do much with WiFi (actually, out of the box with the 1.0 firmware it didn't do ANYTHING with WiFi). What I was expecting was, maybe three months after launch, they'd release the update they didn't have time for when they had to ship the final software off to the factory for production in August or September of last year. You know, a software update that would have some cool, useful WiFi features. That update never came, and here we are nearly a year later and the WiFi on the Zune remains an unfulfilled promise.

Tags: wifi, venzero

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Could Anyone Spare a Tune?

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"A few weeks ago, Newsweek technology columnist Steven Levy spoke to a group of Microsoft employees about the iPod and the book he wrote about Apple's music player. During his talk, Levy pulled out his Zune, the new pocket music and video player that Microsoft hopes will give the iPod some competition... But guess what? Even in an auditorium full of Microsofties, Levy's Zune couldn't find another Zune to talk to. Levy wrote on his blog that when he told the crowd that his Zune was feeling lonely, one person eventually popped up and sent him a song. It made me wonder: If the people who make and sell the Zune aren't buying into the music-player community idea, what's the chance that the rest of us will?"

Oo-oo! I know this one! Slim to none, right? Ric Manning goes on to say that even though the song-swapping process is smooth, that's not why he'd buy a Zune. I agree wholeheartedly, Ric. Microsoft keeps touting the Zune's WiFi sharing capabilities, but it's been implemented so poorly that geeks like us don't see anything special about it, and people less in the know are likely to find it a frustrating experience. I bought a Zune because of its great screen and sturdy build quality. I certainly didn't buy it because there are all these Zunes floating about waiting to share their songs with me. I've never even turned my Zune's WiFi on. I think I would have found an AM radio more useful...

Tags: wifi, sharing

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

WiFi Competition Heating Up

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 10:30 AM


"Several companies are following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Zune, and coming out with their own versions of Wi-Fi equipped digital audio players. Among those jumping on the wi-fi bandwagon are Sandisk, iRiver, Archos, Polaroid, and AOL. Sandisk's $250 Sansa Connect device will work with a service called Zing to allow users to share music, stream internet radio, and download tracks."

Not only are a number of DAP manufacturers adding WiFi to upcoming devices, but many are trying to pick up where Microsoft dropped the ball by adding many of the features the Zune community has been asking for. Microsoft better be careful to not drag their feet too long on Zune improvements or future models, or their Social might just be surpassed.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Zune Evangelism in Retail Stores

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"When we walked up to the Zune area he started looking at the accessories while I caught a bit of a conversation between a young man and a couple at the Zune demo area. Turns out the Zune on display was not functioning and the couple was looking to by one. The young man owned one and was explaining why he thought it was the best "MP3" player out. I interjected and told about my son and his buddies sharing last night which the couple thought was cool. My son then hearing me offered to let them take a look at his since the display was not working. The other young man at this point said something about not thinking and pulled out his Zune (just for clarification this is the first time ever I have been at the Zune stand and seen tow people with Zunes together. I hope it is a sign of things to come.). Then he and my son proceeded to demo the whole sharing piece which really wowed the couple. When my son and I left the couple was having a Circuit City representative assist them in getting a white one (so it would look like their friends iPod). I really wish we would see this kind of explicit advertising letting people know exactly what the Zune is capable of."

I thought this was a great story - have you been doing any "Zune Evangelising" (I'm going to resist the urge to call it something like "Zunegelising" or another equally horrid term) in any retail stores, or even amongst your friends? Retail stores in particular are always a bit odd for me - I really enjoy helping people with technology, and teaching them about what to look for, but I also don't like being the guy that the staff complains about ("Why is that idiot customer doing our job for us?"). Sometimes big box retail staff are happy to have help, but it gets a little bit dicey when they're giving our false information and you correct them - like the Best Buy salesperson who told a customer the 120 GB 2.5" portable hard drive he was looking at was "flash-based" and "had no moving parts". I just had to speak up then, and the Best Buy employee didn't seem to appreciate it much.

What has it been like talking about the Zune features - do you find it's a hard sell, or are people eager to Join the Social after you show them what it can do? Or are they put off by some of the limitations around WiFi sharing and supported video formats? I know that when I tell people about the WiFi sharing they're instantly interested, but when I explain the 3 days/3 plays limitation they say "Oh, never mind then" - it seems to kill the deal for them. What has your experience been?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Flash-Based Zune On the Way?

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:00 AM


"It looks like the same discussion with Chris Stephenson that yielded that 2007 European Zune launch figure also gave up a few more details about the Zune line: apparently we can expect a flash-based Zune for the holiday season later this year (damn they're taking their dear sweet time on that) and apparently Stephenson also hinted at "a truly WiFi-enabled device" at some point in the future, according to Digital Music News."

Well, that's good news for fans of flash-based players. The iPod Nano is easily one of the hottest players on the market, and if Microsoft's strategy is to succeed, they really need to target that demographic. As for a 'truly WiFi-enabled device', well, I agree wholeheartedly with Engadget when they said "upgrade the firmware and add the features, don't try to sell us a v2 device that does what the V1 device can and should." The Digital Music News article can be found here.

Tags: wifi, flash-based

Friday, January 12, 2007

Could 3 Days / 3 Plays Be Up For Review?

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 06:30 AM


"Zune owners can share songs with each other, but the music will only last for three days or three plays, whichever comes first. And that restriction is present regardless of whether the song is copyrighted. But in a meeting coming up soon between executives of the music industry and at Microsoft, those restrictions will be up for review."

One of the most advertised, and criticized, features of the Zune is its wireless capabilities. Zune's wireless offers much promise, but is very lacking in its current implementation. We are currently limited to photo and music sharing, and as you know, the music sharing is hampered by a 3 day or 3 play DRM restriction, even if the source material isn't copyrighted. Well, this limitation, as well as other wireless scenarios, could soon be under fire at a meeting between Microsoft and music industry executives. We will have to wait and see what comes out of this meeting. Considering the music industry’s and Microsoft's, track records, my hopes aren't very high.

Tags: wifi, sharing, drm

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Getting Around Zune Sharing DRM

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 04:00 PM


"We knew it would be done sooner or later, and now that we have the mod to use your Zune as a portable hard drive, a method to bypass the Zune's WiFi sharing DRM is finally here."

I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before the Zune DRM is cracked, just like about all other DRM schemes. In the mean time, utilizing ZuneBoard's hard drive hack, there is a workaround, albeit a rather cumbersome one, to send a DRM-less file using Zune's WiFi sharing. Check out the above Gizmodo article for the all the details. This workaround, basically tricking the Zune into sending a file as a photo, involves a little too much manual work for what can easily be accomplished, sans-Zune. Since both ends require a PC and the hard drive hack before the file is usable, what's the point? I guess W?BIC is the answer! :)

Tags: wifi, drm, hack

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gartner: Music Sharing Matters

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:00 AM


"Microsoft sees the youthful audience for the Zune wireless-sharing MP3 player (which allows music sharing for three days or three plays, then gives users a chance to buy it) and associated downloading service as more than just a target market, said industry analysts: It also sees it as an ally in its quest to topple the king-of-the-hill Apple iPod/iTunes. Mike McGuire, VP of research for mobile devices and consumer services at Gartner Inc., San Jose, Calif., said he sees Microsoft's social-networking strategy as being based on recommendations that lead to sales. "The social nature of music as a form of currency is well established," he said. "But from the larger industry perspective, where it gets interesting and powerful is when music sharing can lead to actual purchase.""

With a limited distribution base and restricted playback rights, Zune's sharing capabilities via Wi-Fi may not be all that appealing, but Gartner thinks that Microsoft is on the right track. The end goal is to have music discovery lead to sales, and sales lead to more money in the pockets of Microsoft and the labels. Of course, it won't take off until users receive some sort of incentive for sharing. Until then, only one party benefits.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Not the Only Wi-Fi in Town

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"Microsoft's Zune is generating buzz as the first mass-marketed Wi-Fi-enabled MP3 player, but it isn't the only -- nor the first -- portable media gadget to go wireless. Other lesser-known Wi-Fi-enabled portables can do something the Zune can't do (yet)."

We have all heard the buzz: Welcome to the Social. I was excited as anyone about Zune's wireless capabilities. Notice I said "was". I'm extremely disappointed with the crippled capabilities in this first wave. I am still excited about the potential. I like to leave a DMP in my car. I want to be able to pull into my driveway and sync my device without dragging it into the house and plugging into my PC. (Is that so much to ask?) Contrary to all the press, however, the Zune is not boldly going where no DMP has gone before. Drowned out by the Zune’s wireless buzz are a number of lesser-known DMPs with Wi-Fi built in, already doing some of what the Zune aspires to. Cnet gives a nice rundown of Wi-Fi enabled devices, their benefits, and drawbacks. What is the most important wireless for you?

Tags: wifi, wi-fi

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Support for Vista, Podcasts, and Device-Based Marketplace Access

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"And although Microsoft is starting with a small feature list, Erickson said the company will be able to make additions fairly quickly through software updates. First on that list is compatibility with Windows Vista."

Yes, we all know that the Zune is a little crippled in its current form. First, the lack of Windows Vista support, but they're working on that (expect an update by November 30; if not, well before January 30). The lack of support for podcasts is a deal breaker for some, but that's going to be amended in the short term too. You can also expect a new and easy way to get videos on to the device (cryptic, I have to admit). In the long term, Microsoft is hoping to open up the Wi-Fi and perhaps reach out to enemy territory. Flagging and purchasing songs direct from the device? Mac support? It's all under consideration. The Zune team at Microsoft has ideas and wants the consumers to tell them what's hot and what's not, so go on, post 'em in this thread and we'll do our best to ensure they read it. ;-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jobs on Zune's Sharing: Too Slow

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:52 AM


"I've seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left! You're much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you're connected with about two feet of headphone cable."

That's a quote from Newsweek's interview with Apple's head honcho, Steve Jobs. While the Zune's wireless sharing feature is a little crippled in its current form, I do think it has potential, yet Apple appears to not even embrace the concept. Could this say something about future iPods? Will they never incorporate any sort of sharing capabilities?

Monday, October 2, 2006

Zune WiFi Sharing Explained

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 07:23 AM


David Caulton from Zunester explains exactly what you can and can't do with WiFi on the Zune in his post over at Zunester. The explanation is a mixed bag - it's pretty much what I was expecting, though some of it's a disappointment. Here's what you can do out of the box:
  • You can discover nearby Zunes to create an ad-hoc network (Zune to Zune) and interact with those players. Range is an unknown at this point. It's WiFi based, so one would hope it would be a few hundred feet, but it's also going to be a low-power chipset so they may have sacrificed range in order to achieve greater battery life. Given the scenarios related to music sharing, I don't imagine you'd need to have 1000 feet of range.
  • Once connected to that other Zune, you can send it a song or an entire album. The tracks are wrapped in a 3/3 DRM package: the songs can be kept for three plays or three days, whichever comes first. After that, the songs are deleted the next time the Zune is synched. Notice they're not deleted immediately on the device - and since the Zune is an updated Gigabeat S PMC, there's probably no delete function on the device itself. That could make for some full hard drives if a lot of Zune owners get together and don't sync often.
  • There's a lot of confusion about the 3/3 DRM. I've asked for clarification from a Microsoft contact: what happens if I create a song in ACID, put it on my Zune, and want to share it with everyone else. Will that song, wholly my own creation, have DRM on it? Some sites are reporting yes, some sites are reporting no. I aim to answer the question once and for all shortly...
  • Transmitted songs include all the metadata and album art. No word yet on whether the Zune supports embedded album art. I'm waiting on a response from a Microsoft contact on that issue.
  • You can send photos for unlimited viewing, and they can sync back to the PC. I imagine that means 320 x 240 JPEGs, which I presume is what the Zune will transcode the images to, unless the Zune desktop app allows for more control than Windows Media Player 11 (doubtful).
So that's the good news - none of it unexpected given what we know of the Zune so far. Equally unexpected is the news of what the Zune will not be able to do at launch:
  • The Zune will not be able to connect to the Internet
  • The Zune will not be able to download songs over the air from the Zune Marketplace
  • The Zune will not synchronize with your PC using WiFi
Frankly, I'm disappointed, though not all that surprised. It would have been a killer scenario to be able to load up your Zune with new content sitting at the airport (from the Zune Marketplace) or sitting in your bed (from your PC). Those are scenarios that blow open the current paradigm of digital audio players being slaves to desktops and laptops, and Microsoft isn't taking advantage of them. Why? I suspect it's the same old thing that guides most new products: do a few things, do them well, then add on more new things in the next version. The question is, will that be enough to make a splash in the market?

Tags: songs, wifi, sharing

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