Vizio is Coming to Canada

If you ask Canadians which brand of TV  is the second biggest seller in the United States?  odds are they would never have guessed  Vizio … but it is. 

Vizio was virtually unknown when it first entered the US market in 2002 but with a core focus on innovation and price, Vizio quickly became the preferred brand for value conscious consumers south of the border and in recent years some of their products have won various Consumer Electronics awards while still maintaining their focus on innovation and price.

Over the years Costco sold a few select models of Vizio TVs and soundbars in Canada but until now the full line of Vizio Products was not available but that is about to change.

Vizio announced today that beginning next week, September 12, 2014 Vizio Televisions and Soundbars will be available for purchase in store and on line at more than 200 Future Shop and Best Buy locations in Canada.

Vizio’s product lineup for Canada will include it’s E and M Series of HDTV’s with sizes ranging from 24 inches all the way to 70”.  Vizio audio products will include the popular 42” and 54” inch sound bars as well as their innovative 21 inch sound stand.

All Vizio TVs sold in Canada will be Smart TVs featuring the Vizio Internet Apps Plus platform including Netflix, YouTube, Yahoo News, Flickr and more ….

Canadian pricing has not been released yet but it’s a anticipated that Vizio products will be aggressively priced and follow a similar marketing strategy as they do south of the border.

What about Vizio 4K TVs:  The Vizio Product launch in Canada will be for 1080P HDTV sets only at this time, but we’re told you can expect Vizio 4K sets to be available in Canada closer to the holiday and Christmas season.

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Teleprompt+3 Review

Teleprompt+ 3 is Hands down the best teleprompter app for the iPad by a mile and the benchmark for all other iOS prompting apps.

I recently set up a studio for shooting YouTube videos and was looking for an iPad teleprompter.  My research revealed a number of teleprompter apps including Teleprompt +3, Prompster Pro™, Prompterous, iQPrompter, Best Prompter Pro – Teleprompter, Prompter Pal, ProPrompter Speech Prompter, Teleprompter Pro and i-Prompt Pro.

The cost of these various apps ranged between Free to $14.99.

Initially, like most people,  I began trying out some of the Free Teleprompter Apps.  My needs were pretty basic so I figured one of the free apps might do the trick.  iPrompt Pro and Teleprompter Pro Lite were two Free apps I tried.  I had never used a teleprompter before so the Free apps allowed me to experiment on how a teleprompter works and what features are important.

During my testing I quickly discovered three features that are essential and for any teleprompter app:

1 – Change Speed:  The ability to change the speed while prompting

2 – Mirror Text: The ability to Mirror Text for use with a reflective mirror teleprompter rather than reading directly from the iPad

3 – Quick Edits:  The ability to Add, delete or edit script quickly from the prompting screen is very beneficial.

One of the Free Apps – iPrompt Pro did allow me to mirror the text however neither free app would allow me to change the speed or edit the text while the prompter was running.

With the Free Apps ruled out,  I began to search the app store once again, this time for Paid Teleprompter Apps.

Bombing Brain Interactive just released their new completely redesigned Teleprompt+3 so I thought I’d give it a try.

Teleprompt+ 3 is marketed as a professional app and initially I thought I’d be overwhelmed with all the features and controls including in the app.  After using Teleprompt+ 3 for only minutes I found the layout straight forward and the design of the app incredibly easy to use and understand.

Teleprompt+3 immediately addressed by three essential criteria for a teleprompter app:

1 – Change Speed:  Teleprompt+3 allows the user to change the scrolling speed while prompting

2 – Mirror Text: Teleprompt+3 Has a mirror text option

3 – Quick Edits:  Script editing can be done quickly right from the prompt screen and Teleprompt+3 has a rich text editor which allows me to change the color and style of text as well.

As a novice teleprompter user Teleprompt+3 addressed all my requirements however once I started using the app I quickly came to understand, appreciate and use several of the more advanced features including:

Wireless Remote Control:  Telepromter+3 can be controlled by another iOS device, bluetooth keyboard or hand held remote control

Video and Audio Recording:  This new feature allow you to display and record video using the built in camera on the iOS device.  The video feature provides you with a pop up window similar to picture in picture with the camera view and the text view side by side.

Timed Sessions:  This features allows your to set a preset time for your presentation and the teleprompter will scroll at the correct speed to match your preset time.

Import and Export:  Many teleprompter apps only allow you to store scripts within the app but teleprompt+3 allows you to import and export scripts from Dropbox and Google Drive accounts.

Universal iOS App:   Teleprompt+3 is now a universal application which means the full version is available on all iOS devices be it iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.  Some prompter apps require you to purchase separate versions for each device, but with Teleprompt+3 the same app works on all devices at no additional cost.

iCloud Sync:  In addition to Dropbox and Google Drive, Teleprompt+3 will now sync with iCloud and in the near future with Teleprompt+3 for Mac (coming soon)

Gesture Control:  Teleprompt+3 is incredibly easy to use and incorporates gesture control including Double Tap with two fingers to pause or resume playback and pinch and drag to adjust margins and drag text.

Script Printing:  Scripts can be printed directly from the app to any AirPrint compatible printer and scripts can also be emailed using the share button.

Integrated Help Screen:  Teleprompt+3 includes an integrated Help screen which contains links to online support, PDF manuals, instructional videos and links to Bombing Brain’s Blog.

See:  http://www.bombingbrain.com/teleprompt.html for even more features.

Consulsion:  Bombing Brain has a clear winner with Teleprompt+3 for the iPad and iOs devices.

Whether you’re a Pro User looking for a professional App or a Novice User like me looking for an easy to use Teleprompter for narrating YouTube videos, Teleprompt+3 is simply the best, most complete teleprompter app available today for iOS and soon Mac OS.

For more information on Teleprompt+3 visit the developers site at:  http://www.bombingbrain.com/teleprompt.html

To Download Teleprompt+3 from itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/teleprompt+-3/id859980419?mt=8#

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Would you by a Google Self-Driving Car?

Steve Jurvetson – Wiki

If you’ve ever started to doze off at the wheel during a long road trip you’ve probably said to yourself       “I wish there was a car that would drive itself” …  turns out, thanks to the engineers at Google there is.

Google first announced the self driving car project in 2010 and four years later Google has a fleet of test vehicles that yes ….  Drive Themselves!

For a couple of years now car manufactures have built in “Park Assist” a robotic operated system that steers and parallel parks your car.  While Park Assist is great technology consumers have to trust the technology and let go of the wheel for it to work!  The same is true with robotic, self driving cars.  Three things need to happen before self driving cars become mainstream.

  1. Cost: Google’s robotic cars are not cheap.  Each car is fitted with a $150,000 roof top LINDAR laser radar system.  The rangefinder laser creates a 360 degree 3D map around the car at all times and then combines that information with high resolution maps of the world and additional data to enable it to drive itself.
  2. Laws:  Laws will have to be changed before Self Driving Vehicles can be operated on public roads.  The state of Nevada changed it’s laws to allow Google’s robotic test vehicles to share the roadway with other drivers.  California has also allowed Google to test it’s vehicles there.
  3. Public Perception:  Will the general pubilic trust cars that drive themselves?  Robotic cars never get tired, fall alseep or experience road rage.  Robotic cars never speed and always make a full stop at stop sign.

Google’s robotic cars have logged over 700,000 accident free miles to date and have been involved in two incidents during their testing.  In 2011 a “human-controlled” Google robotic car was involved in a crash while the car was being driven manually at the time.  A second Google robotic car was rear ended while stopped at a traffic light.

Are you ready to share the road with driver-less,  self-driving cars?  Even if the price of technology were to drop, I think the public trust and acceptance of self driving cars has a way to go.  I still get distracted whenever I see an right hand drive imported vehicle on the road, I can only image the reaction if there were no driver at the wheel or what about a car with no steering wheel at all!

Google has no plans at this time to commercially develop robotic cars but might license the technology to car manufactures in the future.

Source: Reuters, Wiki

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Microsoft Launchs Home Automation System

Does the world really need another Home Automation System, Microsoft seems to think so.

Starting June 1st, 2014 Microsoft has partnered with Insteon to incorporate the Insteon Hub and select peripheral devices into a Windows Phone App available on any device running Windows 8.1.

Features of the system will lights, electrical plug in models, thermostats and water sensors along with garage door control and video cameras for monitoring.

The Insteon platform has been around for along time and has it’s own hub and software which can be loaded into a PC or Mac.  Apps to control Intseon devices have also been available for the iPhone and iPad however up until now there was no app or tight integration for users with Windows Phones.

The race to remotely control the home continues to speed up with the likes of Google buying NEST only a couple of months ago and now Microsoft partnering with Insteon.  Z-wave still is the most popular home control and automation protocol followed by Wi-Fi, Radio Ra2, ZigBee and a host of others including Insteon.

Doyle Serink from Ion Security and Integration compares the home automation race to previous format wars like VHS vs Betamax and  Bluray vs HD DVD.  “For Home Automation to be come truly mainstream Serink says the industry needs continuity and standards.”

“Right now everybody is trying to get into this space with their own proprietary format.  This closed approach is leaving customers confused and integrators frustrated as they try to integrate competing technologies into one reliable and easy to use connected home system.  The best advice Serink can give to customers looking for an automation system is to do your homework and talk to someone who has experience with home automation otherwise you may end up with disjointed and dysfunctional home automation system which will frustrate you everyday.  When it’s done right … home automation is a magical thing.”

If you have questions about home automation or would like to add home automation to your home Doyle can be reached at:  Ion Security

 

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New Sonos Controller App – Now Available

The new Sonos Controller App is now available for Android and iOS.

The new app is radically different than the old controller and takes a little getting used. Once you understand how the new controller app works you’ll find it is, a better app than  the previous version.  Be prepared,  the first time you launch the new controller app you’ll wonder “What happened … Where did everything go”?

I will be posting a full review and more details about the new Sonos Controller App next but if you’re adventurous download it and check it out today. http://www.sonos.com/music#play

 

 

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The Sony Experience

I remember the days when Sony was the number one brand of televisions and the Trinitron Color TV was often considered to be the Best Color TV money could buy.  Of course that was before the internet, high definition television and ultra thin flat screen TVs.

Over the years the Sony TV brand has really lost it’s leadership position to Samsung, LG and Sharp.

Taking a page right out of the Apple Playbook Sony hopes to revive it’s brand image by opening up Store within a Store boutiques in select BestBuy locations called the Sony Experience.

The “Sony Experience at BestBuy” will include special store fixtures, interactive displays and user friendly demonstration areas.  350 select BestBuy locations will offer the premium Sony shopping experience with specially trained “Sony Experience Experts” showing off Sony 4K Ultra HD Televisions, Media Players and 4k Cameras.  Home theater audio solutions will also be included in the “Sony Experience) and of course lets not forget the Playstation 4.

BestBuy will start rolling out the “The Sony Experience” this spring and summer.

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Yahoo! Weather: The Best Weather App for iPad and iPhone

Apple includes a built in Weather App in the operating system for the iPhone however for some reason it doesn’t include a built in Weather App in the iOS for the iPad and iPad Mini.  A search for a useful, easy to use, Ad Free weather app can be a frustrating experience.  Most Free Weather Apps for the iPad are either horribly cluttered with annoying banner ads or just plain ugly and disjointed.

Yahoo! Weather – is a simple, well laid out weather app that is useful, informative, easy to use, full of information and perhaps the best looking weather app for the iPad and iPhone.  Best of all it’s Free!

If you like the built in weather app that comes with the iPhone you’re going to love the Yahoo! Weather.  The built in iPhone weather app is powered by Yahoo but the dedicated Yahoo Weather App kicks it up a notch providing you way more information and a intuitive easy to navigate format.

The Yahoo Weather App has been completely redesigned and updated for iOS7.  The app launches to your specific location or home city and presents you with a beautiful scenic background photograph from Flickr which relates to the location of your forecast.  If you’re in Vancouver you get pictures of Vancouver if your checking out the weather in Las Vegas you get pictures of that city.

Swiping down from the home screen gives you more weather details including an hourly forecast, followed by a 10 day forecast, more details about your daily forecast, plus precipitation, wind speed and even satellite weather map for the selected area.

Swiping left or right moves between selected locations and pressing the + button allows you to add up to 20 cities or locations to the app.

Overall the Yahoo Weather App sounds busy and cluttered but it’s anything but. 

The Yahoo design team has managed to cram all the weather information you could want into an app that’s not only beautiful to look at but super fast and easy to navigate.

In my opinion,  Yahoo Weather is a must have for the iPad and the best weather app I’ve found to date.  I like Yahoo Weather so much I’ve installed it on my iPhone too and prefer it to the built in iOS 7 Weather App.

Yahoo Weather is elegant, informative and best of all it’s FREE.  Put it on you’re iPad  or iPhone today and see what you think.

Here’s a link to Yahoo Weather on the itunes store: Yahoo Weather for iOS

Yahoo Weather is also available on Android.  Yahoo Weather for Android

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Warner, Universal and Sony Buy Shares in Shazam • Apple Rumoured to buy Beats for 3.2 Billion!

It’s been a crazy week on the financial side of the music and tech industry. Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have purchased $3 million shares each in Shazam Entertainment, creators of the immensely popular music app which identifies songs based on listening to them using your smart phones mic.

Shazam is currently a private company planning to go public with an IPO.  The trio of music labels also owns a portion of Spotify the music streaming service and Universal also owns a 14% share of Beats headphones rumoured to be sold to Apple for 3.2 billion dollars. 3.2 billion seems to be a popular number these days when you’re buying or selling a company.  Smart Thermostat maker NEST was recently sold to Google for 3.2 billion and now Beats Electronics, makers of the Beats headphones by Dr. Dre,  is rumoured to be in negotiations with Apple to sell for  …. wait … you guessed it 3.2 billion dollars.  Hey guys … if you’re looking to buy an integration company, I’ve got one I’d sell you for … 3.2 billion … just saying.

Currently the sale of Beats to Apple is strictly a rumour, Apple has made no official word to confirm or deny the purchase of Beats but if the rumour is true it will be the largest acquisition Apple has ever made and according to Forbes at 3.2 billion, Apple will be paying a hefty premium for the headphone manufacturer.  Forbes estimates the value of Beats Electronics at about $2 billion.

What exactly Apple would do with Beats if they did purchase them is unclear.  Sure they could package Beats headphones with iPhones and iPods.  Beats audio processing could be incorporated into iPhones, iPads, iMacs and Macbook Pros but odds are Apples primary interest in Beats might be Beats Music streaming service. Some analysts are predicting the sale of Beats to Apple might come as soon as next week while others discredit the rumour saying it won’t happen at all.  Apple is making no comment at this time… Say tuned.

Sources:  forbes, wall street journal, the music network

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eBay Advises Members to Change their Passwords following Cyberattack

eBay is advising it’s members to Change their Passwords following a cyberattack which affected a “large number” of user accounts.

The attack actually occurred late February and early March when a small number of employee log-in credentials were compromised.  The data breach includes eBay customer names, passwords, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and date of birth.

eBay first detected the cyberattack a couple weeks ago and after their investigation made a public announcement this morning encouraging users to change their passwords.

According to ebay, no indication of increased fraudulent activity has been observed on ebay and PayPal financial information remains secure since it is stored on a separate network.

eBay is encouraging it’s users to Change their Passwords immediately on their site and any other sites where the same password has been utilized.

eBay is just the latest company to be targeted by cyber criminals and comes on the heals of recent announcements by the US government about China cyber spying, warnings about microsoft internet explorer and the Heartbleed bug.

As the old saying goes …. Why do criminals rob banks?   Cause that’s were the money is

Source,  streetinsider, tech crunch

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Netflix Continues to be a Bandwidth Hog

According to the latest study by Sandvine Corp, Netflix downloads accounts for more than 34% of internet data consumption during the peak hours.  That’s bigger than YouTube (13.19%), HTTP (11.65%), iTunes (3.64 %) or even BitTorrent at 3.4%.

BitTorrent accounts for the highest upload usage at 24.53% followed by HTTP (14.57%) and SSL with 6.54%.

Based on the usage numbers Netflix consumes three (3x) times more bandwidth than next nearest service Youtube with only 12.28% of peak internet traffic.

So what’s all this mean for Netflix and for the internet?  Well it means the arguments for and against Net Neutrality aren’t going away anytime soon.  It also means our Video media consumption is continuing to shift from standard broadcast and cable TV to Streaming Video and Media.

Torrent uploads and downloads account for only 5.96% of internet traffic and while this is still a concern for copyright infringement the numbers are far lower post Netflix, itunes, amazon video and hulu than they were before those services launched.

Source: Sandvine

Streaming audio and video will continue to grow in the future especially as we consume more media on our mobile devices rather than our home computers or laptops.  Every cable service provider and network have already launched or will be launching a mobile viewing app so consumers can watch their favorite shows on the go.  As mobile grows so to will streaming data consumption so service like Netflix will become even bigger bandwidth hogs in the future.

What does this mean for consumers?

1 – Higher fees for Netflix and other streaming media services.  In the future Netflix and others services may have to pay a bandwidth toll to ISP’s for using their networks.  This is already happing in select markets and will continue to become the norm in the future.  If Netflix has to pay fees to the ISP’s they will have to raise their prices accordingly … this too is already happening.  Netflix announced price increases for new subscribers.

2 – Data Caps:  We are already familiar with Data Caps on our cellphone plans but many homeowners (those without teenage kids) don’t even know they have a data cap on their home internet.  Some ISP strictly enforce their data caps while others are more liberal and forgiving.  In the future tiered internet packages will become more rigid and strict as bandwidth consumption rises.

3 – Wireless Data:  Wireless data will become cheaper and data caps will increase.  This is already happening now and the trend will continue.  Wireless (Cellular) data capacity will grow, speeds will increase and prices will drop.  Wireless data may never be as cheap as wired data but some services may switch to a wireless model rather than paying ISP’s a toll to use their infrastructure.  Some companies such as alarm.com recently announce a partnership with Verizon in the US to channel all alarm.com services through Verizon 4G LTE rather than using wired ISP’s networks.  Look for more of this in the future.

4 – Mobile:  Smart Phone screen sizes and even bigger Phablet screens range between 5-8 inches.  For two thirds of the world the Smart Phone is their only internet connected device and mobile is the only wave to access the web.  Mobile data speeds in some areas now rival wired internet connections (wireless up to 250mbs) and cellular data price plans have fallen dramatically.  Two years ago 10GB a month of cellular data cost $250, today it’s $80.

 

Source:  Sandvine

 

 

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