BlackBerry PlayBook: A Few Kind Words for a Forgotten Tablet

A year ago the BlackBerry PlayBook could have been a contender. The seven-inch tablet from Research in Motion could have carved out a nice market niche for itself if RIM could have delivered useful apps to go with the PlayBook’s sleek hardware¬†and user-friendly operating system (OS) software in a timely fashion.

Unfortunately it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that RIM finally delivered the PlayBook 2.0 OS, which included top-notch e-mail, calendar and contacts apps. Unfortunately it all comes very late in the game, maybe too late. Now we have a brand new, hot-selling iPad from Apple and a raft of new, powerful Android tablets. The PlayBook is now deeply discounted, and is not exactly on the top of most tablet buyers’ wish lists.

Still there are some good things to say about the BlackBerry PlayBook and in a recent interview with radio host Mark Laiosa on WBAI-FM in New York, I go over some of the aspects of the new apps and the new PlayBook 2.0 operating system.

Link to audio clip:

Text Copyright 2012 Stadium Circle Features
Audio clip courtesy of WBAI-FM

World’s Largest QR Code? Maybe Not, But…

Video screen above Times Square American Eagle Outfitters store.

It may not be the world’s largest QR code, but it may be one of the most effective. While there are plenty of bright and flashy video screens in New York’s Times Square, there aren’t many that will prompt people to put aside their high-quality still and video cameras in favor of their little cameraphones.

Why? So they can snap an image of the huge QR (quick response) code which appears at regular intervals on the massive video screen of the American Eagle Outfitters store at 1551 Broadway.

These QR codes, which usually appear in somewhat smaller form in magazines, newspapers and sometimes the sides of bus stops, provide instant access to discount coupons or other assets like digital music clips, movie trailers or printed articles. As long as your smartphone has a bar code/QR code reading application–and there are many available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry phone users–you can scan the code, send it over the Internet for processing and download whatever goodie is attached to the code.

When snapped on Nov. 16, the Times Square American Eagle Outfitters QR code lead to a coupon good for 15% off its merchandise.

The L-shaped video screen section which includes the code in the photo measures roughly 79 feet wide by 44 feet tall, making it hard to miss even in the visual cacophony of Times Square. And there are 11 other sign sections in the massive structure above the store.

It was indeed amusing to watch tourists and hardened New Yorkers alike snatch their smartphones from their pockets as if they were Old West gunslingers in an effort to start their phones’ code-reading apps and scan the code before it disappeared.

So what’s your favorite bar code/QR code  reading app? This inquiring mind would like to know.

Photo and text Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

Palm Pre: Preview to a Palm comeback?

The 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing in Las Vegas right now (I’m not there this year) and so is the inescapable blizzard of press releases, Twitter tweets and other flashes from the show floor.

While there are plenty of nifty new devices that make good use of today’s technologies, there are not many product announcements that have made a major ripple so far.
One notable exception, however, is Palm Inc.’s new Palm Pre smartphone. Like Apple’s iPhone, the Pre has a touchscreen, but unlike the iPhone, it also has a slide-down QWERTY keyboard.
Palm has authored a new operating system for the new phone: Palm webOS. Like the Android software developed by Google for T-Mobile’s G1 smartphone, webOS is an open platform, which bodes well for seeing nifty applications for the Pre from independent software developers.
The Pre has a 3.1-inch touchscreen, a 3-megapixel digital camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a Web browser, e-mail and instant-messaging software, eight gigabytes of data space and some preinstalled applications. It will be available from Sprint later this year and support the carrier’s 3G high-speed data network. No pricing has been announced yet, however.

Like any Palm device, a lot of time has been put into developing the unit’s calendar and contact list applications. The phone merges data from different sources to make it easier to manage. For example, if you have the same person listed in the contact list on your computer and on your Gmail contact list, the phone will detect that it’s the same person and provide just one listing for that person on the phone. The Pre can run multiple applications at once and allows you to flip quickly between them.
It’s been a while since Palm has created this much buzz for a new product. The announcement of the Pre sparked a boost in Palm’s stock price. It remains to be seen if this unit will have the necessary level of user-friendliness and reliability to make a dent in a market dominated by Research in Motion’s Blackberry devices.
Is the Pre for you? Why or why not?
Text Copyright 2008 Stadium Circle Features
Images courtesy of Palm Inc.