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Moshi for iPad
  • By Aldo Panessidi


    The opinions are flying around the internet about how Microsoft’s Surface stacks up against the Apple iPad 3. Some of the loudest Microsoft critics are insisting that Surface is just an iPad imitation, and not the tablet with the heart of a PC Microsoft that proclaimed it to be just hours ago.


    Does Microsoft’s Surface really challenge Apple?


    According to Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White in a note to investors on Tuesday, Microsoft’s debut tablet amounts to an iPad clone. He said, “Last night, Microsoft announced Surface, a ‘new family of PCs for Windows’ that are tablets with some of the functionality of a PC. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the compliments from Microsoft poured down like a torrential storm on Apple last night. At the same time, this event indicates to us that Microsoft is still searching for its own identity in the post-PC era, something that has come naturally for Apple with the rise of the mobile Internet.”


    White said there are enterprise niches that the new Microsoft tablets can fill, but he doesn’t see Surface appealing to the masses. “On the surface, we believe Microsoft’s tablet-related products may have a place in certain parts of the enterprise world that require Windows-based solutions; however, we found little in yesterday’s presentation that would convince us that a consumer would prefer Surface over an iPad.”


    Just competing on price with the iPad is going to be a challenge for Surface. White said Surface will have to come in at a price point that offers a “healthy discount” compared to Apple’s tablets.  He doesn’t see how Microsoft can beat the iPad 2′s $399 price or even the new iPad’s $499. Then there’s the iPad “mini” that’s due to arrive later this year with a price point of somewhere between $250 and $300. As White put it, “that will provide a more cost competitive product for Apple and [open] up a new market segment.”




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  • By Aldo Panessidi


    Android apps with “energy bugs”


    Here’s something most of us don’t consider when choosing an app: how fast that app will use up our cell phone or tablet device battery power.   Well, Purdue University researchers have put a lot of thought into it, and they aren’t going to stand for a wasteful Android app.


    Researchers at Purdue have been demonstrating for awhile now how app design affects power usage. They’ve shown how some apps use huge amounts of energy just running ads. (In a previous report, they showed how Angry Birds uses 63% of its resources for peddling rather than propelling.) Now they've confirmed that lots of apps on Google Play have what they call serious "energy bugs." In other words, those apps that use Android's power control or wakelock APIs to prevent a phone going into sleep mode.


    Purdue’s results show that the majority of developers use wakelocks correctly, but around 25% of them make mistakes in how they manage APIs. The effects on battery life are substantial. It can cause a fully-charged phone to drain "in as little as five hours."


    Out of 187 wakelock-exploiting apps tested, 42 had errors. Next week’s report may list the offenders, but it is also expected to provide the means for a developer to easily check their work.




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  • By Aldo Panessidi 


    Google regularly updates its transparency report that details thousands of requests from governments around the world to censor search results, drop YouTube videos or review user data.   A sample snapshot of this report is shown below.


    Google refuses to comply with government censorship  of a Canadian destroying his passport


    Google doesn’t just bend to government’s will either. While Google did agree to cooperate on blogs promoting hate speech and violence, it refused to censor a video where a Canadian citizen creatively destroyed his passport.


    Google did however, comply and remove a tweaked iPhone 4S parts video after Apple threatened legal action.


    Google logs and details every request. Their numbers indicate that the only comply with about half of the requests, indicating Google’s fundamental respect for the right to free speech in a great majority of cases.


    Most filings come from the US, UK and India. The list makes for interesting reading.




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  • By Aldo Panessidi


    The founder of one of Europe’s leading illegal movie-streaming sites confessed and apologized for his crimes and got his sentence cut in half by a German judge.  Deutsche Welle reported that 39-year-old Kino.to founder “Dirk B.” has been sentenced to 4.5 years in jail. He could have been ordered to spend 11 years in prison, but received a reduced sentence after confessing to his copyright infringement crimes.


    Jail time and fines for Kino.to founder


    Millions of eager viewers downloaded movies and watched them on the latest smartphones including the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy2, HTC EVO 


    Many viewers also used tablets like the New iPad/iPad 3, Samsung Tab, Motorola Xoom and the HTC Flyer 


    Dirk B. will have to pay a $4.7 million fine to cover 1.1 million instances of copyright infringement. While in operation, Kino.to is estimated to have brought in as much as $8 million in advertising revenue.


    Most recently, law enforcement officials in Sweden first raided The Pirate Bay in 2006, and the company’s founders were eventually sentenced to jail and forced to pay millions in fines. The service remained online, however, and it is still operational today.   “The Swedish district attorney Fredrik Ingblad initiated a new investigation into The Pirate Bay back in 2010. Information has been leaked to us every now and then by multiple sources, almost on a regular basis. It’s an interesting read,” The Pirate Bay said on its blog. “We can certainly understand why WikiLeaks wished to be hosted in Sweden, since so much data leaks there. The reason that we get the leaks is usually that the whistleblowers do not agree with what is going on. Something that the governments should have in mind – even your own people do not agree.”




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  • By Adhurim Murtezai


    Nokia doesn’t need any more bad press, but now Reuters and BusinessWeek have been spreading the news from more than a few financial analysts and venture capitalists that Nokia’s troubles are far from over.


    Analysts anticipate more troubles for Nokia


    UBS stated that Nokia would have “to significantly discount its new Microsoft Lumia products, including the Nokia Lumia 900, Nokia Lumia 800 and the Nokia Lumia 710 in order… to gain any traction with retailers, operators and consumers.”


    Canaccord Genuity predicted “a continued sharp decline in Symbian smartphone sales…combined with a slow ramp in Windows smartphone volume.”


    Janardan Menon with Liberum Capital said that Nokia had,  ”too much baggage in terms of cost structure and legacy operating systems” to be attractive to most buyers.


    Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Company painted the worst picture. He said “if Nokia doesn’t come out of its funk within a year, Nokia is going to be finished.”


    Microsoft has been the only company talked about as a serious potential buyer.


    Nokia has been lowering its projections. Most recently they cut earnings expectations and announced layoffs of 10,000 employees by the end of 2013.




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  • By Aldo Panessidi


    Apple iPhone 5 Cases and Accessories


    It looks like Apple’s new iPhone 5 will be on the market in September or October 2012. From the rumors we’ve heard, it’s packing some big changes as well as improvements.   iLounge’s Jeremy Horowitz has published a couple of pictures of what the new iPhone might look like. They’re a great comparison between the new and the old.


    I have observed the following 3 signs of an impending iPhone 5 market release:


    1. It seems that the black iPhone 4 stocks are low... similar to what we saw a few months ago with the diminishing white iPhone 4 stock levels.   Rumor has it that Apple has instructed dealers to provide customers with comparable iPhone 4S replacements.  Just like how the launch of the iPhone 4S meant the end of the iPhone 3G, the launch of an iPhone 5 would mean the end of the iPhone 4 and a price markdown for the iPhone 4S.
    2. Apple moves to acquire 'iPhone 5' domain name: While iPhone 5 rumours have been circulating since November last year, Apple has now decided to file a claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in order to get the domain iPhone 5.com. The complaint (Case number: D2012-0951) popped up on WIPO’s website just this week.
    3. Service providers along with other vendors such as Tiger Direct and best Buy slashes price of iPhone 4S & 4: Target is now discounting new iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S by $50 with a two-year contract. This brings the new prices in-store for the iPhone 4 8GB to $50 and the 4S 16GB to $150 (both AT&T and Verizon).

    Please share other signs you think possibly hint to an impending iPhone 5 announcement in the comment section below.


    View the following video for complete rumours on iPhone 5 specs and release date



    The launch of the iPhone 5 will also drive lucrative after market accessories sales, where, brands like Incipio, Griffin, iLuv, who are all vying to be first to market with new cell phone accessories specially designed for the new iPhone 5.


    While brands like iSkin and Incase continue to perfect their accessories which traditionally results in a typical 2-4 week delivery after the iPhone 5 is launched.


    One thing remains sure... only those online accessory re-sellers, like Pure Mobile which has established  strong strategic alliances with key accessory brand manufacturers will be best positioned to be first-to-market and provide consumers with the latest iPhone 5 accessories.


    The word on the street it that the new iPhone will have a 4-inch display, and it will be taller and thinner than the current iPhone 4S. It looks like the back side of the case will have a metal pane. It doesn’t look like it will cover the entire back of the phone, so this might not be the final word.


    To make room for its thinner case, the new iPhone will have a new design for its dock connector. Third-party accessory manufacturers will be all over that change. If Apple is going in the direction of a smaller and thinner dock connector, they might be on a mission to making the iPhone incredibly thin.


    With this new design, Apple still needs to do something with the 3.5 mm headset jack. Maybe they’re planning to eliminate it and go with Bluetooth and AirPlay streaming features.




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  • By Aldo Panessidi


    Google’s possible response to Apple’s Open Street Map


    The rumor that Open Street Map will be replacing Google Maps as Apple’s default mapping application looks inevitable.  Given the symbiotic relationship that Google and Apple have enjoyed for so long, you can’t help but speculate about what this means to the future of Google’s spirit of cooperation on the app front.


    Google has always been willing to develop Apple-friendly app versions of their products, but now Apple appears to be invading Google territory with Open Street Map.


    It looks like Google has a couple of ways to respond. They can take their apps and go home, or show Apple they ain’t seen nothing yet for iOS. Of course, as a third option, Google could keep letting Apple decide where their apps are welcome and where they are not. That just doesn’t sound like Google.


    Here is some speculation (with a heavy dose of opinion) about how Google might be able to create a little independence from Apple and give Apple users Google alternatives.


    Google Maps


    Google’s possible response to Apple’s Open Street Map


    Google might want to take this opportunity to develop its own third-party iOS-compatible map application. It would give them complete control over how their product is used and what goes into the iOS version. Google’s balancing act would be to provide a map app that Apple users want to use more than their parent’s version, and be just short of what they’d get with Android so they’d consider making the switch. Of course, Google has to walk the thin line of keeping Android users at home, too.


    The opinion around here is that Google should show up Apple. Google would have more control over their maps app on the iOS platform, and not lose advertising dollars. Google should give its Android users an app that has better navigation than anything Apple’s loyalists can expect.  Android losing users to iOS has been the trend for too long. It’s time to show Apple how good they really are at maps.


    Google Drive


    Google’s possible response to Apple’s Open Street Map


    Google Drive is a strong competitor for Apple’s iCloud and Dropbox combo, but all Google seems to have done is rename Google Docs as Google Drive.  Regardless of its name, if Apple wanted to create some competition for Google Drive, they’d have to at least marry iCloud and iWork.


    Google has an iOS version of Drive in the works. Again, the challenge is how to design the app to entice Apple users to use it, and get some of them to switch to Android because of what they can only get with Android. It would come down to Google being able build a better Drive, something we haven’t heard is on the agenda right now.


    There’s another twist to Google’s dilemma. Unlike Maps, Drive has a lot of competition. Although Drive is a nice all-in-one package, other apps have features that Drive doesn’t.  Google has to give Apple users the full-featured Drive; otherwise they already have other places to go.


    Google Music


    Google’s possible response to Apple’s Open Street Map


    There is nothing else out there like Google Music. Upload your entire music collection right from iTunes, and access it from anywhere you can get on the Web – your phone, your tablet, your computer, or someone else’s computer.  Really it’s more of a question of where you can’t access it.


    Now that we’ve established that Google’s product outshines anything Apple offers, would it be worthwhile to Google to design an iOS version?


    Consider first what being a Google Play user means. When you want to buy new music, you press the Google Play button in Google Music and go right to the Google Play Store.  While you can upload the music you purchase on iTunes to your Google Music account, Apple isn’t going to make it easy to buy anything from the Google Play Store. There’s no referral money in it for them, and they’d lose their own iTunes sales.


    If Google were to release a Google Music app for iOS, instead of buying their music in iTunes and transferring it, Apple users would buy their music from Google via the Web. Besides, while Apple charges a subscription fee for iTunes Match, it’s free to sync your music to you Google Music account.  There’s no reason to make the extra effort to buy music on iTunes, and only to transfer it to Google Music.


    There is the loss of ad money to consider if they create a Google Music client on iOS, but we’re sure Google is taking a hard look at its options on this one. 


    Google Chrome


    Google’s possible response to Apple’s Open Street Map


    There is really no competition out there for Google Chrome. It’s the best browser choice on any platform.  Other competitors have tried to topple Google, but no one has come close. When you want to do a search, you “google it”, you don’t “bing it” or “yahoo it.” Does Apple (or anyone else for that matter) have any hope of competing with Google on the browser front?


    Google has been cranking up their investment in Chrome. What Google created on the Web, they’ve duplicated for mobile with Chrome for Android.  Now, with their minimalist approach to operating system design, Google has got Microsoft looking over its shoulder with Chrome OS for devices like tablets and netbooks.


    Google defined “search engine”, and it’s doing that very successfully for other platforms.  There just doesn’t seem to be any reason for Google to share it with Apple and iOS.


    Google could consider going after Safari Mobile with a Chrome iOS that is as full-featured as the Android version. There’s an inherent problem with making this effort though. With Android you can set Chrome OS as the default browser. Everything you do with the web will be done through Chrome if you want it that way. With iOS, Safari would be the default and the user would have to make the manual switch to Chrome with each search.


    Again, Google knows its stuff when it comes to this product. Google is probably already in the game on this one.


    Final words


    We’re probably not telling Google anything they don’t already know. They have had a good thing going with Apple for awhile now, but the app game is changing very quickly. Hardware and software keep out-doing one another, so there is plenty of room for new directions. One of those might be making a bigger effort at crossing platforms with some of Google’s mainstays like Maps, Music, Drive and Chrome. They are all well-designed products, and a couple of them have no serious competition.


    Go for it Google. We like choices!




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  • By Aldo Panessidi


    What’s so special about Intel’s Orange San Diego?


    Intel’s first Android cell phone, the Orange San Diego (once known as the Santa Clara), performed quite well for a debut device from a first-time smartphone manufacturer.  Packed with a (1024 x 600) 4-inch LCD, 8-megapixel camera with flash, micro-HDMI port and 1GB of RAM, the San Diego appears to be a solid, mid-range Android device. During its pre-launch, Intel didn’t over-promise on the San Diego, but focused on a few priorities: good web browsing performance, a high-quality camera and maximum battery life.


     


    Watch the following insightful video on the Intel smartphone



    Hardware:


    The Orange San Diego’s look like a smartphone should.  The cell phone case is durable but is a pretty ordinary design. Its black body is ringed by a silver border. There’s nothing special about the finish or any of the other body parts. The soft-touch backing is a nice feature for such an inexpensive phone, but it will still need the protection of a skin or a case to keep it blemish-free.


    Along the right side of the 10mm edge are the volume rocker, micro-SIM slot and two-stage camera button. The micro-USB port is at the bottom. The mini-HMDI output is along the left side. All of the buttons are responsive. The camera button even quick launches the camera.


    The Orange San Diego resembles a Samsung Galaxy S2 or an iPhone 3GS, but the prominent bezel below the screen gets in the way of it being as user-friendly as those two devices.


    That the San Diego has a 4-inch screen is a nice surprise. While there’s no Super AMOLED Plus or Super LCD 2, the contrast is sharp and the colors are rich, although there is a little discoloration on the edges. The 1024 x 600 is screen is ample. When turned up to full brightness the screen was almost readable in full daylight.


    There’s almost 11GB of storage space, but no expansion slot. The whole phone is sealed, so the battery is not removable, so a quick reset by removing the battery is not a possibility.


    The camera can be controlled by the physical button or the touchscreen. The rear-facing camera can record 1080p video. The four capacitive buttons can be read in daylight. They also illuminate if lighting is too low.


    Camera:


    This is probably the biggest disappointment. While the camera is an 8-megapixel / 1.3-megapixel camera duo, you can’t judge this phone’s performance by its specs.  Those 8-megapixels don’t live up to their reputation with this phone. While it is capable of burst capture, images are blurry and colors are washed out. Overall, photos appear dull and images aren’t very detailed.  Color reproduction indoors was no better. Problems seem to improve a bit when operating in macro mode.


    You’ve got a lot of camera control options including capturing multiple photos at differing exposures. The camera doesn’t have an HDR mode, but you can download your images, and turn them into HDR on separate hardware. The camera does have several auto exposure modes (including aperture and shutter priority), shutter-speed adjustment, anti-banding options, RAW mode, ISO settings (800 maximum) and a burst-mode capable of 15 frames per second for up to 10 shots, but you might not have much use for them given the overall mediocre performance of the camera.


    Video produced the same ho-hum results. White balancing helped with fuzziness, but also washed-out whites.  Autofocus performed well but slowly. 


    Software:


    What’s so special about Intel’s Orange San Diego?


    The San Diego’s OS is Android Gingerbread. The phone should be Android 4.0-capable, and that will be available later this year. It's hard to tell what was customized in the Orange San Diego’s OS. There are gesture features that could be useful.  Drawing a symbol with your finger across the home screen or with any app acts as a shortcut that will take you to your pre-identified location. You can assign up to 27 shortcuts to apps, contacts, playlists and even Foursquare places.


    Popular apps like Orange Wednesday come pre-installed but so do less-useful apps like the Orange Assistant, a redundant user guide and an NFC tags app. The presence of the NFC app doesn’t make much sense. The phone is NFC-capable, but it doesn’t come with taggable cards, and it’s not connected to Orange's existing payment service.


    The display keyboard is one of the most responsive of any Android device, regardless of price. Swype is offered as an option as well. The web browser performs comparably to other dual-core Android devices. Even dense websites download easily and with little stutter.


    Most apps were compatible with the new chipset, and only two didn’t work out of many tested.


    Call quality was sharp and clear. Orange provides HD voice calling between the San Diego and other HD devices. The San Diego’s earSmart voice-cancellation processing is found in higher-end phones like the Galaxy S3. 


    Performance and Battery Life:


    These are the two most important indicators of a viable future for Intel in the smartphone market.


    The San Diego’s processor can’t come near a quad-core or Snapdragon S4s, but its single-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2460 performs like a dual-core processor.


    Overall, benchmark testing was good, and performance results have been consistent since the device was originally tested at its launch. In the case of JavaScript benchmark testing against other versions of the same browser, the San Diego’s performance is nothing short of amazing. Its SunSpider score was better than the Galaxy S III’s!  There is no doubt that Intel lives up to its promise of delivering an exceptional web browser.


    Battery life didn't hold up to Intel’s promise of 14 days' in standby mode. It’s primarily due to the juice drained by powering the screen. The San Diego was tested with a video loop with the screen at 50 percent brightness. The phone ran out of power around seven hours and 20 minutes. That’s a result pretty much on par with other Android devices, but not bad for a 4-inch smartphone.


    Day-to-day use was a lot better than many other of the latest smartphones. The battery lasted two to three days between charges. Not using the smartphone features at all gave the battery a two-week lifespan between charges.


    To sum it all up:


    Overall, Intel's first Android smartphone performed admirably.


    • The real stand-out was its Medfield processor that met and, in some cases, exceeded expectations.
    • The battery didn’t live up to Intel’s claims but still held its power very well.
    • The camera was a big disappointment. Back to the drawing board Intel.
    • When compared to Samsung and HTC devices the San Diego looks cheap and somewhat fragile.
    • It needs Ice Cream Sandwich sooner rather than later.

    Priced at $308 USD, the San Diego joins a nice variety of inexpensive entry-level smartphones in the Orange family.




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  • By Aldo Panessidi


     Apple bows out of social network space With the demise of Ping


    Apple who brought the world the successful products like iPhone 4S and iPad 3, will shut down its failed social network and music sharing service Ping later this year. Ping’s demise will be timed with Apple’s debut of its next major iTunes release in the fall. According to All Things D, Apple will pull the plug on Ping and focus its social networking efforts on Twitter and Facebook integration.


    Apple designed Ping, in part, to keep iTunes users browsing in the iTunes store and encouraging them to regularly purchase more music. Apple launched Ping in September 2010, but Apple fans never got caught up in their usual Apple product frenzy. Apple tried a couple of times to remind users that Ping was the place for social music sharing, but it never caught on.




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  • By Aldo Panessidi


    Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has stated for the record that the company plans to ramp up its efforts in the affordable phone market in a big way by expanding its line of low-price Windows Phones like the Nokia Lumia 900. With the help of Microsoft pricing, Nokia plans to focus its efforts on producing cheap handsets in its Lumia line with a wide range of price points and features. The exact words were that the company "needs to compete with Android aggressively".


    Microsoft helping Nokia produce more affordable devices


    Currently the only entry-level phone in the Windows 7 line is the Nokia Lumia 610. Elop noted that there will be more of these devices to come with even lower pricing. The company will be achieving that goal with the help of Microsoft’s "specific support" to get to lower prices than Nokia "had a sight to."


    Nokia has to do everything it can to compete on cost in the very competitive low-end Android smartphone markets like China. The battle will be all about price. The company also plans to save costs by refocusing their launches with more ambitious plans in just a few key countries.


    Nokia's entry level phones have been its bread and butter for a long time. No wonder it is trying to replicate the same strategy with the Windows Phone OS.


    Elop wouldn’t say when we can expect the new line of low-end Lumia’s to hit the market.




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