The High-Tech Texan Blog

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I've checked my list twice (actually more than a few times) and here it is! What you should be asking for, shopping for and getting this holiday season.

Along with world peace...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saturday Shopping Show

Black Friday is in full swing and Cyber Monday is a few days away. Time for hot deals but lots of questions, right? Tune in this Saturday at 11am as it will be one of our busiest days to answer questions about electronics and other products to make sure you are getting the best deals.

What is the best deal you found? Share it!

We'll talk with Leah Bird with AT&T Wireless about hot cell phones and PDAs. Also, Steve Janisse from GM will talk about the attributes of the new Saturn Vue - a great hybrid car with a nice price.One of my favorites companies, Energy Muse Jewelry, will also be spotlighted. Timmi Jandro and Heather Askinosie will talk about their special jewelry with healing properties. I've been wearing their stuff for years and their online business is growing rapidly.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

TV Time Monday Morning

I'll be on Great Day Houston this Monday morning sometime between 9a-10a on Channel 11. Debra Duncan is doing a "Debra's Favorite Things" show and giving a ton of products away to her audience. Hmmmm, wonder where she got that idea???

There will be 6-7 technology products I will be showing off and then throwing them out to the audiene. Some pretty good stuff in there.

I'll also be on the Friday show to talk Cyber Monday, online shopping tips, online safety, etc....

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Verizon Brings On The Storm

It was June 29, 2007. The day I put down my Blackberry Pearl and started my new life with the iPhone.

It wasn't easy at first. The Pearl must have been my sixth or seventh model of the Research In Motion (RIM) device. My first Blackberry was heavy, had a black-and-white screen, a clickable track wheel on the side. It was great. Wherever I went my email followed me. I lost count of the number of times I emailed contacts from the golf course, er, my office.

They got smaller, lighter and thinner over the years. Full color screens came along. A phone was added so I didn't have to carry two devices on my belt, though the Batman look did impress a few people. Gone went the track wheel in favor of a way cool track ball. What could be better?

The iPhone, for one. When the Apple device hit the market that fateful Friday in June, I was the first in line to get one (seriously, I had the first one that was sold in Houston). It was and continues to be a game changer in the world of smartphones. No keyboard, a gorgeous screen, accelerometer for automatic portrait-landscape viewing, real web pages. And, originally, an email service that "just OK" with no corporate server support.

The iPhone grew up this summer when the 3G version came out. More memory, supposedly faster wireless connection and those very cool third-party applications. Corporations started buying them as the new device finally worked with their servers. But still the email service was "just OK" - not immediate, a bit jerky and, thanks to the AT&T 3G network , sometimes slow to download.

It wasn't Blackberry email.

So while users continue to put the iPhone at the top of Mount Gadget, many neglect to include the all-important service issues, especially email usability, reliability and simplicity. I am a mobile guy and rely heavily on smartphones and I have tried most all of them. But I keep coming back to the Blackberry since email is the most important application to me.

I recently got my hands on the newest RIM family member, the Blackberry Storm, and it seems to feature the best of both worlds. The Certs of gadgets, if you will. It's two...two devices in one. The best wireless email delivery system in the world and a full-color, touchscreen that takes commands via a few swipes of your finger.

Yes, the Storm has taken some cues from the iPhone like other recent smartphones. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Apple should be blushing red (note: if flattery = lawsuits then Apple will be seeing red).

The form factor is similar to the iPhone but I will try not to compare the two gadgets going forward as you probably know what the iPhone can do. While the Storm does have a touchscreen it also has four hard keys on the front. I find these buttons a quick way to power the device on and off, make a phone call, see the main menu and return to the previous screen.

No physical keyboard means typing letters and digits on a virtual keyboard; one that rotates from portrait to landscape modes as you turn the device. As you type a character, the 3.25" LCD screen is pressed down to assimilate the feeling of touching an actual key. RIM calls this technology SurePress. It took a few tries until I got used to the feeling but this feedback feels solid and provides assurance that a character was actually input.

When used in landscape (wide) mode a virtual QWERTY keyboard appears. As of now I favor this method as the Storm fit perfectly between my hands while my thumbs do the touching. Portrait (upright) mode finds a SureType predictive keyboard, not unlike the two-characters per button on the smaller, thinner Blackberry Pearl. This method works better for me when I want to bang out a quick email or SMS with one thumb.

The glass display is brilliant, showing 65,000 colors at a crisp 480x360-pixel resolution. You can adjust the backlighting, font size and type. This is a good point to mention the multimedia capabilities. Movies and video clips on the Storm will blow you away.

The Blackberry Storm's multimedia player can play various music and video formats, including MP3, WMA, AAC, MIDI music files, MPEG-4, WMV, and H.263 video clips. There's a search function, playlist creation, shuffle and repeat, and you get a full-screen mode for video playback. The included software CD also contains a copy of Roxio Easy Media Creator, so you can create MP3s from CDs and add audio tags.

Sound has been an issue with other smartphones as speakers tend to be small and low powered. The Storm has just one speaker in the back but believe me, it can crank. The microphone also picks up noise well from both the front and back of the device. Oh, did I not mention it takes full-motion video complete with a zoom feature?

Most every cell phone and smartphone has a built-in camera which makes it convenient to email your contacts some funny faces or your current location (check this out dude, I'm at the bar!). That's all good but these cameras have generally been grainy due to a low resolution sensor, usually 2 megapixels. The Storm is equipped with a 3.2 megapixel camera with a flash, auto focus, 2x zoom and image stabilization. With the built-in GPS you can even geotag photos.

Onto the GPS features. The wireless radios in the Storm are an integrated and assisted GPS, meaning it will use both satellites and cellular triangulation to get a fix on your position. You can use the Storm as a handheld navigator and if you subscribe to Verizon's VZ Navigator location-based service, you can get real-time turn-by-turn directions, traffic data and more.

Browsing the web has become commonplace on smartphones and surfing the Internet on the Blackberry Storm looks great thanks to the bright VGA screen. It has a full HTML browser that uses Internet Explorer or Firefox, your choice. You can navigate with your finger via pan mode or cursor mode. To select a hyperlink, just highlight the link and then click. And yes kids, there is support for streaming media, including YouTube's mobile site

The Storm also features the new BlackBerry Application Center where you can download more programs and utilities to your device. The full store is anticipated to launch next Spring but there are eight applications currently available, including Facebook, Flickr, and several IM clients.

The specs on the battery life seem impressive though I have yet to deplete my initial charge. It comes with a replaceable lithium ion battery (I repeat, REPLACEABLE) with a rated talk time of 5.5 hours and up to 15 days of standby time.

The Blackberry Storm is offered exclusively with Verizon Wireless service. The package includes a solid set of accessories, including a travel charger with various adapters, a USB cable, an 8GB microSD card, a SIM card, a wired headset, a software CD, and reference material.

And finally, the price. Verizon Wireless set the price at $199.99 with a $50 main-in rebate with a new two-year service agreement.

So what goes around, comes around. After almost a year and a half of a Blackberry-less life I am once again sending and receiving emails like a fiend on the new Storm. I suspect Crackberry addicts all over the world will clamor for the gadget and show off their new appendage with pride. But with all new technology products there comes a dilemma.

What do I do with my iPhone?

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blackberry Storm Hits U.S. Stores on November 21

The secret is out. At least on this blog first.

The much-anticipated and highly teased Blackberry Storm will hit U.S. stores on Friday, November 21, according to a Verizon Wireless spokesperson I talked to yesterday.

Specs: touchscreen (no keyboard) with a tactile click response, music player, 3.2 megapixel camera, full HTML browser.

I didn't get a price point but Internet rumors place it around $225 with a two-year service plan from VZW. I'm expecting my sneak preview demo review unit any day now so keep checking back.

Confirmed. Just received an official press release.
BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – The BlackBerry® Storm™ (model 9530) from Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) – the first touch screen BlackBerry smartphone with the world’s first “clickable” touch screen – will be available beginning Nov. 21 in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at for $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement.

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More Fill-In For Joe Pags Thursday

Joe Pags is taking another day off from his afternoon drive time show on The 9-5-0 this Thursday. And back by popular demand to kill, er fill, time from 3p-5p....MOI!

I sat in for Pags on Monday and my originally planned topic of new technology in the Obama administration didn't sit too well with the right-leaning, conservative, red blooded, Republicans who mostly listen to the station. Maybe this time I will just read the comics aloud.

Any local and topical suggestions are welcome. UTMB laying off so many people? Does anyone realize the Latin Grammy's are here in our town? Why is still so freakin' humid in November? TALK TO ME, PEOPLE!

And stand by for my annual High-Tech Texan Holiday Gift Guide. Just a few more days and I will publish my selections for the hottest (and coolest) gift this holiday season. Is there an iPhone killer? Will there be a laptop AND desktop computer in the list year? And what in the world would I suggest with a price tag of $24,000?

Send me any of your last-minute fave suggestions.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Drive-time Radio

Oh, I remember this blog thing. Anyone still out there reading this? That's cool, as long you are listening to me on The 9-5-0, KTRH, etc...

Since you're here...I'll be sitting in for Joe Pags today during his 3p-5p show on The 9-5-0. Pags, I believe, yaps a little about politics and other boring things so I'll try to spice your afternoon up a bit.

Feel free to send topic ideas.

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