All posts by Juan Carlos Bagnell

Juan has been obsessed with consumer electronics since before computers had GUI’s. Out of college he worked on a JIT computing contract which supported DOE facilities in New Mexico. He’s been featured on numerous podcasts and radio shows lending his tech insights. You can also find him in LA directing voice over actors and producing spoken word recording.

The State of Commercial Air Travel: Paying extra to not be hassled.

airline travel technology seatbelt light somegadgetguyI’m not telling anyone anything they don’t already know. I wont be surprising anyone with this editorial. We’re all aware. The current state of commercial air travel for the most part is pretty miserable. The last several trips I’ve taken, I’ve been struck by how bad the experience has become. It’s been difficult. There are certain institutions we look to, things we expect will remain in operation forever, yet they’ve been degrading so rapidly I don’t know how they’ll be around by the time I have grand kids (movie theaters are another such institution, but I digress).

The most recent flight I took was a comedy of errors, and the saddest aspect of the story happens to be that everything went completely according to plan. The flight went exactly right.

See, I’m still at that age where, though I’m traveling more, I still have to be somewhat frugal about how my trips are planned. I rarely get to splurge on nicer accommodations, and I’m young enough still that I don’t quite see the cost benefit. Most of the time though, it really will come down between flying “poor” or not going at all. That’s not really a choice if you know what I mean.

The frustration of doing this often comes down to the fact that I don’t see much benefit to paying more, but spend less and you’re punished. Let me rephrase: You don’t get better service for spending more, you just get hassled less. Continue reading The State of Commercial Air Travel: Paying extra to not be hassled.

Updated: Nokia selling Devices & Services to Microsoft for 5.4 Billion Euro

And so it begins!

nokia selling to microsoft somegadgetguy devices services smartphonesRumors have been flying since the initial WP7 Lumia 900 was released, that at some point Microsoft would swallow up Nokia. These rumors have intensified in light of Redmond producing their own line of Surface tablets. Driving the Windows 8 bus like Google did with the Nexus line of phones and tablets.

Announced this evening Nokia is selling off their Devices and Services business to Microsoft for 5.44 billion Euro, with Nokia expected to gain 3.2 billion on the sale if it’s approved in 2014 by Nokia shareholders. Nokia will focus on networking infrastructure, developing their HERE platform of navigation solutions, and “Advanced Technologies”. Plus they’ll have a war chest of patents to profit off of.

Microsoft gains an incredible hardware development platform out of this transfer, responsible for the most compelling Windows Phone 8 hardware in the ecosystem. Plus they’ll receive a ten year grace on Nokia’s patent collection while becoming a “strategic licensee” of HERE solutions.

This is a very interesting development. Nokia has been struggling to gain traction with high end premier smartphones, but was finding some success in mid-range and low end hardware. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will be as interested in that segment of the market, and if they’ll continue pushing forward into developing markets with Asha devices and other low end solutions.

More commentary and analysis as this develops!

UPDATES:

Microsoft is already speaking out, making it clear they will be absorbing 32,000 Nokia employees. They will also be continuing support and development of the Asha platform. They’ll be setting up a new data center in Finland to facilitate the transfer, and that at the end of the sale Nokia executives will also transfer over to Microsoft including Mr. Stephen Elop.

Nokia will hold a press conference September 3rd at 11 a.m. EEST – http://press.nokia.com/

The Next Chapter: An Open Letter From Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop

Ralph de la Vega, president & CEO, AT&T Mobility weighed in on the sale:

“Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset business will help strengthen the Windows Phone ecosystem.  It underscores how the future of mobile computing will be software-driven and cloud-based, further taking advantage of high-speed mobile networks to transform how we live and work.”

Hit the jump for Microsoft’s official press release:

Continue reading Updated: Nokia selling Devices & Services to Microsoft for 5.4 Billion Euro

CBS & TWC mend fences in time for NFL season. CBS shows to air again tonight.

CBS Time Warner Cable agreement blackout somegadgetguy television distribution tvIn a move which I’m sure was shocking to no one, CBS and Time Warner found a way to set aside their insurmountable differences to work out an agreement JUST in time for the start of the NFL season. How fortuitous. I mean that’s just really good timing on their part.

CBS content should begin airing again for TWC subscribers starting tonight, around 6pm in fact. My DVR is very much looking forward to this reunification, and now I might finally find out how that Ted guy met the mother of his children.

In all seriousness however, details on the agreement are scarce, most likely to avoid any company overly losing face in the marketplace. This way both can turn to their customers and claim a victory.

This fight really has underscored a broader topic in telecommunications and media distribution. As networks pay more for content like airing NFL games, what rights and responsibilities do they have in broadcasting that content? To recoup their costs, where should they be allowed to display that content, and what influence should Cable and Satellite companies have over their ability to negotiate these deals? It’s a complicated dance.

We’ve seen a lot of consumer desire, especially among “cable cutters” to see offerings like HBO Go sold as a standalone web property like Netflix. Cable packages never brought us that dream of à la carte channel pricing, but a company like CBS might be able to make an end run around traditional distribution to serve customers directly. Though I’m sure Comcast, TWC, Verizon, etc loathe the idea of becoming “dumb pipes” to funnel competing content.

While I’m happy to have CBS back on my cable, this is just the beginning of a much larger conflict for viewers.

Is it weird to anyone else that both companies use an eye in their logo? Just me? Full CBS press release after the jump.

Continue reading CBS & TWC mend fences in time for NFL season. CBS shows to air again tonight.

Rumor: Samsung to release Galaxy Note 12 by years end?

move player net galaxy note 12 rumor renderComing out of South Korea, courtesy of MovePlayer.net, are reports of a leaked image of what could be a Galaxy Note 12. Now I’m not entirely sold on the idea of large tablets. Even at a fairly reasonable ten inches, larger tablets often become home convenience items. Gadgets used in comfort and safety, but rarely leaving the house.

What worries me even more is Samsung’s insistence on including hardware control buttons. On phones I think they’re great (if you include a menu key HTC), but even on a smaller tab like the Galaxy Note 8, they often felt like they were in the way, especially using the tab in landscape. This render shows those buttons below the screen in landscape. I’m not sold on that. I’d prefer Samsung use on-screen controls like the Nexus tablets so those controls move with the orientation of the screen.

Lastly, twelve inches doesn’t sound remarkably big, but that screen size can be somewhat cumbersome to hold. Discussing this rumor on Youtube, I demonstrated the difference between an iPad and my Lenovo Twist, a laptop which screen-swivels into a 12.5″ slate.

Rumors point to a 2560×1600 resolution display, which should look gorgeous on a screen this size. We’re all used to wimpy Ultrabook and Macbook Air low res displays around 13″. Plus since it’s called a “Note” we should see support for S-Pen.  Besides that we don’t really know much else about it.

If this is released it could be a really interesting, dare I say audacious, device, but I’ll be really curious to see how it performs out in the wild… Of my living room… because I’d probably never want to leave the house with it…

(via GSM Arena, Pic courtesy MovePlayer.net)

HTC to update all variations of One to 4.3 by end of September?

ATT HTC One Mini software update jelly bean 4_3If you’re checking out HTC Phones on AT&T, you’ll notice something a little curious. Firing up the One Mini you’ll see it’s running Android 4.2.2, which is a newer version of the operating system than the flagship full-sized One which is currently rocking 4.1.2. One of the biggest changes in the update can be seen on the right. The notification tray quick toggles for things like WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.

The update for 4.2.2 is already live in the UK, much to the chagrin of some One customers in the USA. Support for Android handsets has always been a dicey conversation. The relationship between Google, manufactures, and carriers can often delay support to end users. This support gets even more contentious when some phones are updated but others are not.

Apparently the Verizon version of the One will ship with 4.2.2 pre-installed. President of Global Sales Jason Mackenzie took a couple minutes to respond to some of the comments on Twitter.

Minor though it may be, it does include some nifty usability improvements like that aforementioned notification tray update. When pushed on the timing of this update Mr. Mackenzie replied:

And hopefully that’s what we’ll see. The changes between 4.1 and 4.2 and 4.3 weren’t substantial enough for Google to even change the name of the update. They’re all called “Jelly Bean”. Yet this still gives customers the impression that some are being left out in the cold. That they aren’t getting bug fixes and patches. Not a great feeling to have when you supposedly have a premier handset.

As I’m currently using the AT&T HTC One, I’ll be following up on coverage as soon as some kind of update reaches us.

Coming Soon: The Netatmo Urban Weather Station

netatmo urban weather station preview somegadgetguyWe recently moved, and we live closer to a highway now. We’re not in one of those areas being studied by scientists thankfully, but I’m still concerned about the effects of roadway pollution on our air quality.

Plus we moved to a hotter part of the Valley. Yikes.

I’m really curious to see how the netatmo Urban Weather Station performs. On the surface it’s a handy little way to see what the weather is like without all that pesky “opening a window” nonsense, but deeper than that it carries sensors to track air quality, humidity, CO2, and the audio level in side your home.

Handy weather and air quality reports tailored exactly to your home via a computer, Android, or iOS device.

Will report back once I’ve put it through its paces!

A Real Person Review: Mrs. GadgetGuy’s Thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S4

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (8)It’s important not to lose perspective when reviewing phones. You experience so many different devices that your threshold for “good” and “bad” gets severely fine. Occasionally I like to include other people on my long term reviews.

My wife Marie would never consider herself to be “tech savvy”, yet living in a household covered in glowing rectangles she does have some unique opinions on the technology she invests in. She’s spent some time playing with Samsung’s Super Phone the Galaxy S4. I asked her some questions about her experiences so far.

What phone/phones did you use before the GS4? Which have you liked? Which have you disliked?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (1)I’ved used the Blackberry, the Galaxy S2, the iPhone, and the Motorola Photon. I loved the Blackberry, but was soon totally addicted the the Galaxy S2. I know most iPhone devotees will disagree with me, but I found the S2 to be more intuitive to use than the iphone. The dedicated menu and back buttons really helped. I despised the Photon. It was an android, and had a hardware keyboard, so I thought I’d love it, but I didn’t. I never used the keyboard (it was too cumbersome). Despite resetting it and “turning it on and off,” I felt like it was really buggy much of the time.

Thoughts on build quality, design, and ergonomics of the GS4?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (9)The only issue I really had with the GS2 was it’s size. I have smaller hands and it felt huge. I’m told that the GS4 has a 5 inch screen and the GS2 only had a 4.5 inch screen and yet holding it in my hands, the GS2 felt really clunky. The GS4 feels really slim and it doesn’t cause people around me to ask if that is my “tablet”? It feels comfortable to hold and I can use it one handed (much easier when trying to answer the phone while walking the dog).

Just because I’m paranoid, I do keep a bumper on the phone, and I use screen protectors on all my phones. I want them to look proffesional when I have to use them at work.

How is the screen? Size good or bad? Have you used it for media or video?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (6)The screen is beautiful. I’m a big Netflix and Hulu watcher and the screen is really crisp and clear. I’m not bothered at all by the fact that it is a small screen because all the details are there to see. It’s replaced a lot of my tablet usage. It really is shocking compared to other phones I’ve used.

How does the phone perform? Has it locked or slowed down on you? App performance?

So far I have had none of the bugginess of the Photon. I use Google voice and it’s a pretty seamless transition. I haven’t had to “Turn it on and off again” to get things to work properly. I use pandora, google music, calendar apps, and the kindle app pretty regularly and I have had no issues. Also, since it’s an android, after updating the calendar on my phone, I can see and access those updates right away via any other device (desktop, tablet, etc). LOVE that.

Thoughts on the camera? What kinds of pics/video do you like to take? Does the GS4 camera accomplish that usage?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (3)I don’t really take a lot of pics and I’m not the photographer in the family (as I’m sure most readers are aware), so I can’t speak to all the various camera settings. I’ve tried a few, but wouldn’t be able to say if they made the picture better. I did notice this past weekend after taking a lot of pics in strange low-light, that most came out really well. In focus and clear.

Have you had an issues using WIFI GPS or NFC?

Sadly, I haven’t used the awesome NFC option yet. But I love knowing it’s there. I use Wifi pretty regularly and it’s easy and has always worked. It’s fast on our home cable internet connection. I’ve used several apps that would require GPS (Google Maps/Navigations, Waze, MyTracks, etc) and it has always been able to fire right up. It only has issues if I am not in a great signal area. So, not a problem with the phone.

How does the phone handle phone calls? Is the earpiece loud enough? Speakerphone?

Calls are clear. The speakerphone is loud enough to be heard clearly, but I prefer to use a headset option.

What do you think of the software that came pre-installed? Touchwiz UI? AT&T apps? Are menus easy to use/find? Settings?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (7)Menus are easy to find and use. I’ve played with them a bit more on this phone than any other because, again, they are pretty intuitive. I have not used any of the AT&T preset apps. I’ve been using the pre-installed keyboard and I have had no complaints. I like that auto-correct is not automatic. It offers a suggestion and I can choose that word if I want, but it won’t change it automatically.

It was easier going to the GS4 than trying out the Photon. There’s a ton more software on the GS4 than the GS2, but it looks “right”, like I know where everything is. I haven’t turned on gestures, but I like the eye tracking features. I keep my screen time out really short to save battery.

Speaking of, how has battery life been?

So far, I have been able to go all day with the phone without being worried about the battery. I do have to charge it every night, but that’s been pretty normal since leaving Blackberry.

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (5)Any final thoughts? Do you enjoy using it? Does it feel like an upgrade over other phones you’ve used?

This phone definitely brings all the best aspects of the GS2, while fixing the minor issues I had with it. I have no complaints about this phone, and would definitely recommend it to friends and family. Especially if they are big Google app users. They work together so well.

Thanks Marie!

A Letter to HTC: The HTC One Mini isn’t THAT mini…

Dear HTC,

I like the One Mini a lot. I think you’ve largely succeeded in bringing a nicer experience to the mid range Android ecosystem. The fit and finish are outstanding, and in many ways it out shines its bigger brother One. There are a few things I’m going to be critical about when I wrap up my review, but honestly there aren’t any severe deal breakers here. It’s a great little phone.

You know what is bothering me about the HTC One Mini however? Your advertising for the phone.

You remember two sentences ago, when I said it was “…a great little phone”? The problem is, it’s not THAT little. In fact it’s ever so slightly bigger than the Moto X. This wouldn’t be a problem by itself. The phone IS smaller than the original One, so you have every right to call it the “Mini”. I guess I’m just a little disappointed to continue seeing press pictures of the Mini like this on your official HTC site:

htc one mini ad size comparison somegadgetguy

Nice! That makes the Mini look like it’s a tiny wunder-phone. A Mighty Mouse here to save the day from all of these gargantuan mini-tablets! Huzzah!

Unfortunately reality look more like this:

htc one mini size comparison somegadgetguy

Yeah… See that’s not what you showed us it would be. That’s actually pretty close in size to the original One. This is the problem with forced perspective and Photoshop. Moving the Mini in front of the One would actually make the One appear to be smaller as it would be slightly farther away from the “camera”. To recreate the size difference you showcase I actually had to move the One closer to the camera:

htc one mini size comparison faked somegadgetguy

I know, I know a LOT of tech has to be crammed in there like a 4.3″ 720p screen and those terrific Boomsound speakers. I get it. But you didn’t have to lie to us.

Ahem, I mean, you didn’t have to exaggerate the differences in size for dramatic effect.

Love,

SomeGadgetGuy

P.S.

Click here to watch my video first impressions of the HTC One Mini.