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Cellphones – Video on Cellphones: The Uncut Version

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Cellphones – Video on Cellphones: The Uncut Version

Cellphones, Many people can watch videos on their cellphones. But not everyone can do it like Avi Gulranjani. The 30-year-old Manhattan physician often reaches for his Apple Inc.

iPhone during work breaks. But instead checking out sports highlights or three-minute clips, he watches New York Yankees games and hourlong episodes of “The West Wing.”

Mr. Gulranjani has been able to watch longer programming on his iPhone since he began using a software application from EchoStar Communication Corp. subsidiary Sling Media. “I didn’t think I would get used to watching an hour or 30-minute show on my phone, but I’m hooked,” he says.

Until recently, cellphones’ video capability was limited to short clips, and the video selection was tiny. But now, people can watch full network and cable-TV shows and long movies.

The change is being driven by the arrival of new smart phones—the iPhone, Palm Inc.’s Pre and Nokia Corp.’s N-series phones, for instance—with big screens that make watching longer TV shows and movies on small devices more tolerable.

At the same time, services such as Sling Media’s Mobile Player, CBS  Corp.’s TV.com and Nero Inc.’s Move It have begun providing ways for consumers to view everything from live sports events to “Project Runway” on their phones. These services let people use hand-held devices either to retrieve videos stored on their digital video recorders at home or to gain access to large libraries of long-form content owned by independent media producers.

In May, for instance, Sling Media launched its Sling Media Mobile Player for the iPhone. The service lets people send TV shows, DVR recordings and other media to their phones. For between $200 and $300, users get a device called a Slingbox, which connects to a cable or satellite set-top box, as well as software for the phone. Sling says nearly a million people have signed up for the service on the iPhone.

Also in May, TV.com launched a cellphone video-watching service, which people can access by downloading free software to their mobile phone. Using the software, consumers can play full episodes of TV series such as “Gossip Girl” and cult favorites like the original “Star Trek.”

So far, the increase in video options hasn’t boosted mobile-video viewership. According to Nielsen Co., mobile viewership is flat from a year ago, when about 13 million people watched videos on their cellphones.

That’s partly because smart phones like the iPhone and Nokia’s N97 remain a small portion of the overall cellphone market. Only about 18% of the 270 million cellphone users in the U.S. have smart phones, according to Nielsen. Most other cellphones still have small screens and hard-to-reach buttons, says Roger Entner, a Nielsen analyst. The screens of smart phones like the iPhone or the Palm Pre measure more than than 3 inches diagonally—nearly an inch bigger than the screen of the Motorola Razr V8 and some other flip-model phones.

Ira Frimere, portfolio manager for Nokia, says the company has worked to improve the video-viewing experience. For some of its smart phones, Nokia now includes a kickstand—a kind of mini-tripod—to allow hands-free viewing, as well as software that gives people the option of horizontal or vertical viewing. Nokia has also added memory and processing power to some phones in order to make images appear smoother and more fluid on the screen, Mr. Frimere says.

The new mobile-TV services aren’t hassle-free. Watching a movie on a phone consumes a lot of bandwidth—the capacity of a communications channel—and that limits where some of the new services can be used. For instance, Sling Media’s iPhone service is limited to hot spots, or public areas that provide wireless Internet access, which often have greater network capacity than cellphone networks. Consumers can’t access the service using AT&T Inc.’s wireless cellphone network.

When watching some mobile-TV services on cellular networks, consumers can run into “jitter”—that is, a video’s quality becomes degraded and hard to view, with images freezing or not appearing at all. Daren Gill, general manager of Veveo Inc.’s vTap service, which powers TV.com mobile, recommends that people generally watch TV on their phones at a hot spot.

Also, some of the video services require a lot of power, which can drain a phone’s battery life. Phones with high-resolution screens, which offer better picture quality, use as much as twice as much energy as a standard phone would need.

Some of the mobile-TV services don’t allow people to transfer music videos or movies from another hand-held device such as an iPod or Sony Playstation Portable. Such transfers also require some technical know-how to get the videos to work.

To make such moves easier, media software company Nero introduced its Move It service in March. The software, which costs about $40 and can be downloaded to a phone, lets consumers move content between cellphones and other hand-held devices. It also takes care of technical issues like resizing video for a cellphone screen.

Kertis Henderson, 31, a software developer in Burlington, N.C., started using Move It about a month ago to transfer episodes of “M*A*S*H” from his iPod touch to his HTC Corp. Touch phone. “I didn’t think I would have an easy experience transferring some of my videos to my phone, but [Move It] makes the process really simple,” he says.

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GPS – Hassle-free driving companion

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GPS – Hassle-free driving companion

GPS, DRIVING in unfamiliar areas can be challenging. Chances are, you might get lost and waste time finding your way – unless you have the Garmin nuvi 255W GPS navigator.

At 12.2 centimetres by 7.4cm by 2cm, the palm-sized touch-screen device is designed to make driving hassle-free, and it’s simple to use, too. The rectangular screen is large and well-lit for the driver to easily see the map while driving.

The standard package comes with a GPS unit, a cradle for mounting on the car’s windscreen, and a vehicle power cable. The unit also has a built-in battery, which should last for about four hours. For extended battery usage, you can always plug the power cable into the car’s power outlet.

How it works

When the nuvi 255W is turned on, the maps will load in a few seconds, and a simple menu then appears on the main screen. There are basically six items on display – GPS satellite strength, battery status, “Where to” function, map, volume and tools.

Before you start, you may want to check out the tools function first, especially to set your current location. You also need to ensure that you are not in a covered area such as inside a building or garage, as this will block the satellite signal. A voice will prompt you if there is a signal.

By simply clicking the “Where am I” menu, the device will display your location in longitude and latitude format, the nearest intersection, and surrounding landmarks such as hospitals, police stations and petrol stations. This feature is handy especially when you are in an unfamiliar area and need to know your surrounding within a fivekilometre radius.

From point A to point B

The nuvi 255W is pre-loaded with the free Malsingmaps, which is one of the biggest GPS communities in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. It comes pre-installed with road maps for the three countries.

To move from one point to another, go to the main menu, click “Where to” and select your destination either by address, point of interest, recently found, favourites, intersection or simply browsing the map.

When you key in the address, do not type “Jalan” because the system will not recognise it. Just type the street name. If you need to search for a restaurant, school or bank, use the Point of Interest tool. Tap on the desired destination and press Go.

The device will draw up the best possible route marked in blue. Now you are ready to start your journey. The screen will automatically show the three-dimensional map, but you can change it to a 2-D version by tapping on it once.

The map is pretty accurate; you can actually see where you are while driving. But be careful if you are in a housing area with many small lanes and corners because the device may not be able to create a good route for you; it will keep recalculating the direction.

So, the device may not lead you through shortcuts, but that’s OK if you are not familiar with the area. Otherwise, the instructions given are correct, plus navigating the screen is a pleasure, easily from one menu to another.

You also can view your trip log, that is the route that you have taken, time and distance covered. The device even records the places you recently visited for easy navigation in the future.

It’s multi-lingual, too

The nuvi 255W comes in a variety of languages – American English, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Thai, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakka. So, this should make it attractive to Malaysian users.

What’s more, the words spoken by the device are so clear and sharp that you can opt not to look at its screen while driving. The Malay voice feature sounds a bit awkward, though, especially the way the sentences are structured.

For example, the device will say “In 500 metres, turn left” as “Dalam lima seratus meter, belok kiri”, or “Two point one kilometres, exit left” as “Dalam dua titik satu kilometer, belok kiri” instead of “Dalam dua perpuluhan satu kilometer…”.

I would say American English is the best voice option. It would be good if Garmin could improve the Bahasa Malaysia feature to woo the non-English-speaking community.

More features

The nuvi 255W also comes equipped with the junction view capability, which allows you to see the real image of a junction once you reach a certain place. At present, Garmin has 300 junction views for the Malaysia map.

The review model is said to be able to say the street name as you approach that street such as Jalan Maarof in Bangsar. Unfortunately, it couldn’t for this testing. After some research on the Internet, I found that the feature is currently available for only American and European street names. Let’s hope this feature will be made available for Malaysian road users since it will make driving using the GPS unit even easier.

Also, the device comes with a safety feature that automatically locks the map while your vehicle is moving.

Conclusion

The nuvi 255W is truly handy when driving in unfamiliar areas. It is simple enough to use and you can be rest assured of good guidance for your journey.
Product: nuvi 255W
Manufacturer: Garmin
Enquiries: Aeco Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd(03-92858062)
Price: RM1,150

Specifications
Dimensions: 12.2cm by 7.4cm by 2cm
Weight: 173g
Display type: WQVGA colour TFT with white backlight
Display resolution: 480 by 272 pixels
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
Pre-loaded maps: Malsingmaps
for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei
Data card slot: SD
Built-in memory: Internal solid state

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Screwdriver – So small and fast

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Screwdriver – So small and fast

Screwdriver, ALL of the do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement programmes on television must surely have you itching to get some equipment that will allow you to do the same kind of wonders to your home.

Well, you might just be halfway there if you have Bosch’s GSR ProDrive Professional screwdriver, which is said to be the world’s smallest cordless screwdriver for professionals.

At 500 grams, the model is small and handy enough to make it the right power tool for anyone, not just the furniture or kitchen fitters, joiners, electricians and computer builders that the tool is targeted at.

And it is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand. Despite the small size, the GSR ProDrive Professional is able to offer all of the functions of a cordless screwdriver for professionals. It can drive screws up to five millimetres in diameter into softwood.

The manual says the speed of a maximum 250 revolutions per minute ensures fast screwdriving, and the accelerator switch enables a smooth start when driving screws. Well, it certainly feels like that. Also, the motor brake immediately brings the screwdriver to a halt when you cut the power off, making it ideal for precision work or driving rows of screws. The magnetic bit holder holds screws up to a size of 4mm by 40mm.

A nice feature of the GSR ProDrive Professional is its integrated LED light. This is especially helpful as it provides bright light when driving screws in dark areas. Discard any fear you might have about the screwdriver dying on you. The tool is powered by two replaceable premium lithium-ion batteries from Bosch. The GSR ProDrive Professional 3.6-volt lithium-ions have low self-discharge and can be recharged at any time without any ill effects.

And on one battery charge, it can drive about 110 3.5mm screws. According to the company, its Electronic Cell Protection technology protects the batteries against overload, overheating and total discharge. Moreover, the battery pack is said to be robust enough to withstand a drop from two metres high onto concrete and remain fully functional.

Bosch supplies the GSR ProDrive Professional as a set in a bag with a carrying strap. The set includes a 24-piece screwdriver bit cassette, two batteries, a multi-charging station and removeable accessory bags.

Product: GSR ProDrive Professional Manufacturer: Bosch Enquiries: Robert Bosch Sdn Bhd (03-79663137) Price: RM199 for West Malaysia, RM219 for East Malaysia SPECIFICATIONS Speed: Up to 250rpm Battery: Premium lithium-ion Battery capacity: 1.3Ah Torque: 7Nm Maximum screw diameter: 5mm Weight: 0.5kg


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