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ซอฟต์แวร์ปาร์คอาสาทำเว็บฟรี

Posted by comtech3 on August 3, 2009

วันจันทร์ ที่ 03 สิงหาคม 2552 จากหนังสือพิมพ์เดลินิวส์
ช่วยโรงแรม 1-3 ดาวแก้วิกฤติ

ไข้หวัดสายพันธุ์ใหม่ 2009 ทำธุรกิจท่องเที่ยวทรุด ซอฟต์แวร์ ปาร์ค จัดทำเว็บไซต์ให้ผู้ประกอบการโรงแรมระดับ 1-3 ดาวฟรี เชื่อช่วยเพิ่มลูกค้าเข้าใช้บริการมากขึ้น

นางสุวิภา วรรณสาธพ ผู้อำนวยการเขตอุตสาหกรรมซอฟต์แวร์ประเทศไทย หรือ ซอฟต์แวร์ปาร์ค เปิดเผยว่า ซอฟต์แวร์ ปาร์ค มีโครงการเข้าไปช่วยเหลือผู้ประกอบการท่องเที่ยวที่ได้รับ ผลกระทบจากภาวะเศรษฐกิจและการแพร่ระบาดของไข้หวัดใหญ่สายพันธุ์ใหม่ 2009 ด้วยการนำเทคโนโลยีสารสนเทศ (ไอที) เข้าไปมีส่วนช่วยในการเพิ่มศักยภาพการแข่งขัน โดยจะเข้าไปช่วยแนะนำการใช้ไอทีและจัดทำเว็บไซต์ให้ผู้ประกอบการโรงแรมระดับ 1-3 ดาว โดยไม่คิดค่าใช้จ่ายใด ๆ ในช่วงปีแรก ขณะนี้มีผู้ประกอบการโรงแรมที่สนใจเข้าร่วมโครงการแล้วกว่า 300 รายทั่วประเทศ

ปัจจุบันผู้ประกอบการโรงแรมและรีสอร์ทขนาดเล็กไปจนถึงกลางในประเทศไทยกว่า 90% เป็นธุรกิจเอสเอ็มอี ซึ่งยังเข้าไม่ถึงไอที เพราะไม่รู้ว่าจะเริ่มต้นตรงไหนและมีงบน้อย ทางซอฟต์แวร์ ปาร์ค จะช่วยแนะนำด้วยการจัดทำเว็บไซต์ และอบรมด้านไอทีให้แก่พนักงานของผู้ประกอบการเพื่อให้มีความรู้พร้อมที่จะนำมาใช้กับธุรกิจได้ ตั้งแต่การดูแลปรับปรุงเว็บไซต์ไปจนถึงการจองห้องพักแบบออนไลน์ โดยทำงานร่วมกับสมาคมส่งเสริมเทคโนโลยีเพื่อการท่องเที่ยว ผู้ประกอบการโรงแรมระดับ 1-3 ดาว ที่สนใจเข้าร่วมโครงการติดต่อได้ที่ซอฟต์แวร์ ปาร์ค.

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Is iPhone OS 3.0 a boon for the accessory market?

Posted by comtech3 on March 18, 2009

March 17, 2009 11:35 AM PDT

by Donald Bell

At Tuesday’s iPhone OS 3.0 preview event, Apple unveiled several new features of the iPhone operating system, including the capability to create applications specifically for interfacing with third-party hardware. Examples given included a five-band EQ interface for speaker docks, or an FM transmitter control that allows you to select broadcast frequencies based on signal strength.

Alesis ProTrack iPod recorder.

An example of the Alesis ProTrack using an application front end for recording control.

This may sound like a benign little announcement to most people, but as someone who closely monitors trends in iPod accessories, I expect that this will be huge for the industry. What company isn’t going to want to differentiate its products with a slick app?

I expect that everything from battery chargers to stereo Bluetooth headsets will (for better or worse) be given the app treatment. The products won’t necessarily be any better for it, but the gee-whiz appeal alone will probably carry manufacturers and consumers through to the end of the year.

The nightmare for me is going to be all the apps I’ll need to download for each iPod and iPhone accessory I review. Every speaker and every dock will likely require an app download to get the full picture of the product. Version updates for apps will also be a pain. If Altec Lansing hypothetically updates the EQ control on the app for its latest line of speakers, suddenly, I’ll need to add a note to all its product pages.

But there are some potentially cool things to come out of hardware-specific applications. Here’s what I’m looking forward to seeing:

Buttonless products. Call it the “Shuffle Effect,” but if you can migrate all of a product’s controls to the iPhone’s touch-screen interface, then why have buttons? I’m not saying it’s a good idea, necessarily, but the potential makes it inevitable that we’ll see a product like this sooner or later.

Game controllers. Maybe it’s just me, but I get a little giddy from the idea of plugging a reproduction of the vintage NES controller into the dock of the iPod Touch to play a little old-school Super Mario. Not every game is suited to touch screen and accelerometer controls.

Audio recorders. Companies like Alesis have already been trying to accomplish app control of hardware by advertising its product’s compatibility with Bias’ iProRecorder application. It’s not a perfect marriage, though. The iPhone/iPod Touch behaves like a recording medium, while the settings for the recording hardware are still strictly controlled by buttons and switches. Really fine-grain control over gain settings, compressor ratios, gating, panning, surround effects, and audio editing are much better handled on the screen than with hardware, allowing the expression of greater complexity and unique graphical controls.

Nike+iPod alternatives. The Nike+iPod exercise kit is a very cool way to track your progress with running and jogging, but you’ve got to buy special Nike shoes and the proprietary Nike pedometer puck, and the software isn’t for everyone. I know Apple and Nike are closely partnered on the Nike+iPod product, but I could see something come along that doesn’t compete directly and works more like the Wii Fit, with it’s own hardware and application.

I’m sure there’s way more potential here than I can come up with. Personally, I would love to see some hardware for enhancing the portable music-listening experience on the iPhone with EQ or music sharing, but I’m not sure how you would pull it off without being able to run applications in the background.

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Kindle 2: Hands-on impressions

Posted by comtech3 on February 11, 2009

February 9, 2009 3:20 PM PST

by David Carnoy

While Amazon isn’t doling out review samples of its new Kindle 2 digital reader for a few weeks, I did get a chance to play with it at the launch event and come away with some first impressions.

Let me start by saying that the Kindle 2 is a nice upgrade over the original Kindle, but we’re not talking a jump from, say, black-and-white television to color, so early adopters who own the original Kindle shouldn’t feel too dejected.

Yes, the Kindle 2 is thinner–it measures a svelte 0.36 inches at its thickest point–and weighs in at 10.2 ounces. It also has 25 percent improved battery life and is about 20 percent faster, thanks to an upgraded processor. And it’s got 16 shades of gray instead of 4, so the text pops a little more. But this is an evolution, not a revolution.

One thing that hasn’t changed much is the height and width of the new Kindle. Some people have complained that the original Kindle should have been shorter and forgone the keyboard, like the Sony Reader. Whether you’re a fan of the keyboard or not, it’s worth noting that the Kindle 2 is about the same size as the original, measuring 8 inches top to bottom. According to the specs, the screen itself is a 6-inch, diagonal, E-Ink, electronic-paper display, with 600×800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi.

One gripe that Amazon has clearly addressed is the issue with the page-advance button. On the original Kindle, that button was extra long and easy to depress, which meant it was very easy to accidentally turn pages. On the Kindle 2, the page-turn buttons are smaller, and in playing with the device I noticed that it took a bit more effort to actually click the button and advance a page.

Amazon has upped the amount of onboard memory to 2GB (from 256MB), so you can store up to 1,500 books or assorted newspaper and blog subscriptions, as well as JPEG images. But unfortunately, it left out an expansion slot for additional memory. Like the earlier model, this one can play back MP3 files, but 2GB is pretty skimpy when you start getting into multiple albums with high bit rates–so think in terms of storing only your favorite songs or albums and not your entire music library.

I noticed a few other design changes. The on/off button and headphone jack have been placed at the top of the device, which makes both easier to access (the wireless on/off is now a toggle in the menu system, not a physical button, which is also good).

There’s a USB port at the bottom of the device that doesn’t look like your standard USB port; rather it’s of the micro-USB variety, similar to the ones you find on Bluetooth headsets. You charge the unit and manually transfer files from your computer to the device via this port. I say “manually” because the Kindle 2 has the same free-of-charge, Sprint, high-speed data connection–Amazon calls it Whispernet–that allows you to make wireless book purchases in the Kindle Store, surf the Web, or have files, periodical subscription, and blogs delivered to your device over the air. Alas, the wireless aspects of the device still only work in America–and there’s no word on a European or Asian version of the Kindle.

The original Kindle had a little rolling wheel to assist with navigation. The Kindle 2 moves to a five-way rocker button that’s more straightforward and helps solve some–but not all–of the quirky navigational issues the device has.

Amazon has made some nice tweaks to the interface and made it easier to access the embedded dictionary to look words up. But it’s far from a total revamp, so you’re still left with moments when you’re not sure whether you should go forward or back or which button you should hit to get to where you want to go. In other words, it’s not entirely intuitive, so Kindle newbies will have to play around with the device for a day or two to really get the hang of it (that’s pretty good, all things considered).

In many ways, these types of devices lend themselves to a touch-screen interface (that way, you can go to a virtual keyboard and shrink the device) and Sony went that route with its PRS-700 Reader.

Unfortunately, in going to a touch screen, Sony managed to lose some contrast and has run into some snags with glare issues. So, until the engineers improve the E-ink touch-screen technology, Amazon has made the right choice with its nontouch display, though some CNET readers are waiting for color, especially when it comes to Web surfing. (It’s worth noting that the Sony PRS-700 allegedly has the same processor as the Kindle 2’s, so they should run at very similar speeds).

At the press conference, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made it a point to highlight two new features. The first is Whispersync, which gives you the ability to sync two or more Kindle devices and “allows you to seamlessly switch back and forth between your Kindle devices while keeping your reading location synchronized” and pick up in a book where you left off. The word is this feature will eventually apply to other wireless mobile devices, though no details were given at the launch–and no mention of the iPhone (not yet anyway).

The second is called “Read-to-me,” a new “experimental” feature that allows you to have text read to you (this would come in handy if you were driving, for instance). In the onstage demo, the reading sounded really good, but in my brief tests there was still a pronounced robotic element to it. In other words, don’t expect to get a true audiobook experience, though you can choose between a male or female digitized voice.

One warning: Unlike its predecessor, the Kindle 2 doesn’t ship with a protective carrying case. The case that was included with the original was mediocre at best, but it’s too bad Amazon has chosen to ship the Kindle 2 completely naked. So, while the price of the Kindle 2 is $359, you can expect to tack on another $20-$30 for a protective case. Amazon’s Kindle 2 case will run you $29.99.

That gripe aside, the Kindle 2 is a nice upgrade over the original and I think those who waited for this new model to arrive will be happy they did. But remember, these are only our initial first impressions and as always, we’ll wait to pass final judgment until we get our review sample and put the product through more rigorous testing.

Editor’s note: The first batch of Kindle 2s are scheduled to ship out February 24 and word is that people who ordered the original Kindle during the holiday season (or even more recently) will receive the new model.

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Door shutting on Windows 7 beta

Posted by comtech3 on February 11, 2009

February 10, 2009 7:31 AM PST

by Ina Fried

Correction at 10:45 a.m. PST: The ability to start downloading the beta ended at the start of Tuesday.

The clock is ticking for those that want to play around with the Windows 7 beta.

Microsoft issued a late reminder on Monday that people had only until midnight Pacific time to start downloading the operating system.

Those who started their download in time have until 9 a.m. PST Thursday to finish the process, Microsoft has said. Those who went to the site on Tuesday were able to get a product key, but not the code itself.

“We’re sorry, but downloads are no longer available,” Microsoft says when users click through from the download page.

The betta fish, the unofficial mascot of the Windows 7 beta.

(Credit: CNET News)

Although the beta version will cease being available to the general public, members of Microsoft’s MSDN and TechNet developer programs will continue to have access to the code.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the Windows 7 Beta at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. After a slight hiccup, Microsoft made the code available on January 10.

The software maker has said the next test version of Windows 7 will be a near-final “release candidate” version, although it has not said when to expect that to arrive. Officially Microsoft has said that the final version of Windows 7 will come by the end of January 2010, although the company has been aiming to get it done in time to be on PCs that ship for this year’s holiday-shopping season.

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Microsoft offers to just ‘Fix it’

Posted by comtech3 on February 6, 2009

February 5, 2009 4:00 AM PST

Posted by Ina Fried

When people encounter a problem with their PC, they often go to the Web and do a search to see if others have had the problem. If they are lucky, someone has found a fix and listed the steps on either a support document or within a user forum.

Now, they may have an even better option.

Over the past six weeks, Microsoft has quietly added a “Fix it” button to a few of the thousands of help documents on its Web site. When clicked, the computer then takes all the recommended steps automatically.

An example of the “Fix it” button that has started showing up in some Microsoft help documents, offering users a one-click solution.

(Credit: CNET News)

“If we know what those 15 steps are why shouldn’t we just script it,” said Lori Brownell, Microsoft’s general manager of product quality and online support

The “Fix it” option is still fairly rare, showing up in around 100 different help documents. The effort is growing rapidly, though, up from just four such fixes when the program quietly began in December.

Microsoft continues to offer users the option of doing things on their own if they either don’t trust Microsoft or just like being in control.

“We’re not trying to hide anything,” she said.

The first fixes included a number of common issues, including restoring a missing Internet Explorer icon to the desktop, how to enable the DVD library in Vista’s Windows Media Center as well as what to do when encountering the error message in Street & Trips 2008 that “Construction information for routes could not be downloaded”

For now, Microsoft is having to go back and search its archives to see which of its problem solving tips can be automated. Eventually, it hopes to create the automated fixes at the same time the help articles are created.

Where it can, Microsoft is also adding the “Fix it” option into the error reporting tool built into Windows. Initially, all users could do when a program crashed was send a report to Microsoft. More recently, the system has started checking to see if there is any information on the issue. Next up, said Brownell, is offering the option to have the issue solved automatically.

Long term, the company has even broader hopes.

While it would like to just eliminate bugs and glitches, Brownell said that is not an attainable goal.

“We’d love for our customers to never have problems,” she said. “We’ll never ship bug-free software as hard as we try.”

Instead, she said she is aiming for a day when Microsoft’s products themselves will be able to spot problems and proactively offer fixes. As an example, she noted that in Exchange, it’s a pretty safe bet that once one gets low on disk space, bad things will happen. Making sure that users take action before problems occur is an example where the company is headed.

Another example, she said, would be for Microsoft to be able to notify users if they are running two drivers that others have found to conflict with one another. Assuming the appropriate privacy safeguards were in place, Brownell said it would be great for the user to be alerted and offered a fix before a problem occurred.

That proactive world is still largely a vision rather than a reality. That said, Brownell said that the company is putting in place some of the plumbing necessary to make such things possible.

With Windows 7, Microsoft has added an “action center” that Brownell said offers the underlying capability needed to serve up fixes within the operating system. She said that she would expect some opportunities for that over the life of the product, though the current beta version of Windows 7 has few examples of that.

Personally, I’d just like to see the “Fix it” button extended to other areas of my life. I’d really like one that would make travel plans, fill out my expense reports and hire a plumber. That would make me (and my partner) much happier.

For what would you like to see a “fix it” button?

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Bump up your old iPod to 240GB

Posted by comtech3 on February 6, 2009

February 4, 2009 2:54 PM PST

Posted by Donald Bell

Photo of Toshiba iPod hard drive.

I’ll catch some hell for saying it, but Apple’s fifth-generation iPod (aka the iPod Video) is one of the best hard-drive MP3 players of all time.

Say what you will about sound quality or the easily scratched screen, compared with today’s iPod models the 5G iPod has a lot of advantages: it’s compatible with just about every iPod accessory ever made; video output is built right in; you can use it with older computers and old versions of iTunes; and there are countless ways to hack and modify it. Unfortunately, the old guy just doesn’t offer enough storage.

Don’t throw out that old 5G just yet. Rapid Repair now offers a 240GB replacement hard drive specifically made for the 5G iPod (iPod Classic and Zune users will have to look elsewhere). Granted, the drive will set you back $294, but it could be worthwhile if you just can’t live without your entire music collection in your pocket or you insist on listening to large lossless audio files.

I could also see the justification for upgrading if you’ve already invested in a lot of iPod accessories (speakers, car stereos, video docks) that won’t work with new iPod models due to differences in voltage or video output. Spending $300 to upgrade an MP3 player you love makes much more sense than spending the same money to upgrade all your perfectly good iPod accessories.

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Windows 7 will come in many flavors

Posted by comtech3 on February 4, 2009

February 3, 2009 9:50 AM PST

Posted by Ina Fried

Despite criticism that Windows Vista came in too many versions, Microsoft is moving ahead with plans to offer just as many editions of Windows 7.

Although the software maker will offer at least six distinct versions of the new operating system, Microsoft said to expect almost all PCs sold in the U.S. to come with either the Home Premium or Professional editions of the operating system.

Veghte

(Credit: Microsoft)

“We’re going to focus on two versions,” Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte said in an interview, noting that those two versions will likely account for 80 percent of Windows 7 sales.

Still, versions of Windows 7 will include: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. Unlike with Vista, however, the Home Basic version will be sold only in emerging markets.

So, if Microsoft is going to focus on two, why bother with all of the other versions? Veghte says it comes down to the fact that there are just so many places in which Windows is sold.

For emerging markets, for example, Microsoft needs to have lower-priced versions. As a result, Microsoft plans the severely limited Windows 7 Starter as well as the bare bones, but relatively full-featured home basic version. Volume license customers will be able to get an enterprise version that includes BitLocker encryption and a couple of other enterprise-only features. For consumers who really want access to those features, there will again be an Ultimate version of the operating system.

That’s not to say Microsoft is doing everything the same with Windows 7. Veghte said that Microsoft learned some important lessons from Vista.

One specific criticism with the Vista packages was the fact that there were features in Home Premium that weren’t in the pricier Vista Business edition. With Windows 7, each higher-priced version will be a superset of the other versions. For example, the Professional version of Windows 7 includes Windows Media Center.

Also, Microsoft will make it easier to move from one version to another. With Vista, Microsoft introduced the notion of being able to easily upgrade from one version to another, though a special upgrade disk was needed. Windows 7, despite its many versions, will actually come as a single piece of code, or image. That means all the features will come loaded onto a Windows 7 PC, ready to be unlocked with an upgrade product key.

As for the specific versions, Windows 7 Starter has some of the key features of WIndows 7, such as the new taskbar, but not the live thumbnail previews. It is also limited to three applications running at a time and will have limitations on the kinds of screen resolutions and processors it will support.

Home Basic, which will be sold only in emerging markets, removes the screen size, processor, and open application limits and adds support for Internet connection sharing and the new sensor and location-based features. However, Home Basic lacks such things as multitouch support or the Aero interface. DVD playback and Windows Media Center are also found in the Home Premium and Professional editions, but not in Basic or Starter.

The ability to use presentation mode or join a domain are two examples of features that are found in Windows 7 Professional, but not in any of the home versions. Finally, you’ll need either Ultimate or Enterprise for a few features, such as DirectAccess, BitLocker, or booting from a virtual hard drive.

Regardless of the rationale, having so many versions of Windows 7–not to mention any additional versions mandated by antitrust regulators around the world–will certainly open Microsoft up to additional criticism and probably some mocking from the folks in Cupertino.

To some degree, the customization is necessary. After all, while Apple may boast of only having one version–it essentially targets only the high end of the consumer market–the segment served by Home Premium.

However, the need for an Ultimate version, particularly now that the Professional version will have Media Center and other consumer features, seems somewhat dubious.

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T-Mobile’s Nokia 7510 goes on sale

Posted by comtech3 on January 30, 2009

January 28, 2009 10:24 AM PST
Posted by Kent German

It’s a busy day for T-Mobile. In addition to announcing the availability of the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 and the new T-Mobile Shadow, the carrier also started shipping another CES phone, the Nokia 7510.

Though T-Mobile isn’t using the “Supernova” label as part of the 7510’s name, the phone offers everything we saw in Las Vegas. Its most prominent design features are the replaceable front covers in brown, red, and espresso and the hidden external display that flashes nifty animation intermittently.

Features include a 2-megapixel camera, a music and video player, support for T-Mobile myFaves, messaging and e-mail, instant messaging, Bluetooth, an expandable memory slot, a speakerphone, and a personal organizer. It also has integrated Wi-Fi for use with T-Mobile’s HotSpot @Home service.

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T-Mobile Shadow: hands-on impressions and photo gallery

Posted by comtech3 on January 28, 2009

January 27, 2009 9:01 PM PST

Posted by Bonnie Cha

In addition to the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900, T-Mobile also announced the retail availability of the T-Mobile Shadow on Tuesday night. The Windows Mobile 6.1 device was first announced at CES 2009 as the replacement to the original Shadow and can now be purchased online and at T-Mobile stores for $149.99 with a two-year contract.

I actually have the T-Mobile Shadow in hand but only received it a few hours ago, so I’m still checking out the smartphone and putting through its paces. I’ll have a full review for you tomorrow morning, but for now I wanted to share some initial thoughts and hands-on photos of the smartphone with you.

Design
From afar, the T-Mobile Shadow looks like a more modern, hipper version of the original Shadow. By the numbers, it’s the same size as its predecessor at 4 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.6 inch deep and 5.3 ounces, but the smartphone now sports curved edges, shinier face, and a new paint job that gives it a fresh look. I received the white/mint version (it’s also available in black/burgundy) and found it quite attractive, especially the back where it slowly transforms from white to mint.

However, that’s about where the attraction ends. Up close and in the hand, I couldn’t help but think that the T-Mobile Shadow looked like a toy and didn’t really see any vast improvements or benefits over its predecessor. In fact, I actually favor the original model’s design. The new Shadow has a smaller 1.6-inch QVGA display that doesn’t look all that sharp or bright, showing just 64,000 colors at a 320×240 pixel resolution. The navigation toggle/wheel below the screen also feels loose and cheap. I did like the user interface for its cool animated effect and how it organizes the phone’s applications into eight main categories, all of which are accessible right from the Today screen.

T-Mobile Shadow

T-Mobile Shadow

(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CBS Interactive)

The Shadow offers the same slider design as the first Shadow. To access the SureType 20-button keypad, just slide the screen up. It requires a good push but the sliding mechanism feels strong and the screen securely locks into place. What greets you when you finally open the phone, however, is a bit disappointing. Allow me to illustrate.

Two co-workers happened to be around my desk when I received the phone (one who was actually considering purchasing the T-Mobile Shadow for herself) and as soon as I pushed up the screen, they both immediately went off about how the worn down and ugly the keypad looked–that’s never a good sign. But they’re right. While the buttons are large and easy to press, the backlighting is really uneven and dim and only illuminates about five buttons. It just looks bad. I’m even more disappointed considering that HTC made the Shadow, and the company has quite a reputation for making some high-quality devices.

Features and performance
The new features didn’t particularly wow me either. The main difference is that the Shadow now ships with Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard out of the box and includes a faster processor (260MHz versus 200MHz) and UMA support so you can now make calls over Wi-Fi using T-Mobile’s Unlimited HotSpot Calling service. Everything else is pretty much status quo. I think I would have at least liked to seen an upgraded camera, 3G support, or integrated GPS.

Call quality was decent with good volume and fairly clear audio. There was some slight background hissing but nothing incredibly distracting. We did run into a bit of that notorious Windows Mobile sluggishness in the way of a pause or few-second delay when launching applications or performing some tasks. I’ll obviously give you a more in-depth look at some of these issues in my full review on Wednesday.

Outlook
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve only had a few hours with T-Mobile Shadow so I won’t deliver my final verdict yet. However, if I had to describe my experience thus far, I guess I would say I feel underwhelmed. It feels like HTC and T-Mobile simply tweaked the design slightly, threw in a couple new tricks, and put it out for sale without bringing any real innovation or benefit over its predecessor. I just don’t see anything compelling for current Shadow owners to make the upgrade.

That said, I feel like the T-Mobile Shadow has a place and purpose. I think it’s a good device for customers crossing over from a regular cell phone to their first smartphone, since it introduces the extra functionality in consumer-friendly package. Perfect for T-Mobile’s younger demographic.

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New browsing apps available for the iPhone

Posted by comtech3 on January 20, 2009

January 14, 2009 5:49 AM PST

Posted by Caroline McCarthy

We’re guessing that they won’t surpass iBeer in popularity any time soon, but this is big news for the App Store: Apple has quietly started allowing Web browser applications in.

According to MacRumors, a small bunch of browser apps were recently let into the App Store. They include the free Edge Browser, the historyless Incognito ($1.99), the tabbed WebMate ($0.99), and something called Shaking Web ($1.99) that attempts to make Web sites easier to read.

Previously, Apple had not approved third-party browsers for the App Store; its own Safari browser is preinstalled on the iPhone. Other browsers weren’t allowed, citing “duplicating functionality.”

The browser apps currently in the App Store all have some kind of quirk that sets them apart from standard browsers, ranging from a slant in design (Edge) to one in privacy (Incognito). They’re all built using Safari as a base too. So it’s not yet clear whether Apple will open the gates to iPhone versions of completely separate third-party browsers, such as Firefox or Opera.

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