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April 16, 2007

Sansa Connect raises the bar for MP3 player Wi-Fi


Sansa Connect

Ever since the Microsoft Zune MP3 player botched its Wi-Fi implementation by using it only for very restricted sharing with the scarce group of other Zune users, it has been inevitable that someone would get Wi-Fi right. Last week, SanDisk raised the bar considerably with the announcement of the Sansa Connect, even if it isn’t perfect.

Spec-wise the Sansa Connect is a 4GB flash-based MP3 player with a 2.2 inch TFT LCD screen, internal speaker, microSD card slot for additional capacity, and supports PlaysForSure music as well as photos. All that is fairly standard except for the speaker (and perhaps the lack of video support), but where the Sansa Connect really gets different is that it can connect to any open Wi-Fi network allowing the user to:

The Yahoo! theme is intentional – you won’t get real value from the Wi-Fi feature without using the Yahoo! Internet services mentioned above. While LAUNCHcast, Messenger, and Flickr are free, Yahoo! Music Unlimited is a $12/month subscription service and frankly the Sansa Connect isn’t worth the $249.99 list price without it.

Some review snippets:

Gadgetaholic:

Sandisk has another winner here; I have no doubt. I am thoroughly impressed with the features available on this little device. Once you hooked this player up to your wifi network, it is almost impossible to put it down. This is what the Zune should have been.

Engadget:

The Connect is tied to Yahoo! Music Unlimited for its subscription download model and streaming radio, and we’ve gotta say, a WiFi DAP really brings the model into its own.

We’re disappointed that the Connect isn’t a little more open than it is; we’d like to be able to stream whatever the heck we want for starters, but Yahoo! Music Unlimited and LAUNCHcast aren’t bad starts. Now the trick is to keep up the WiFi momentum for these things — Apple, Creative, iRiver, Archos, we’re looking straight at you!

PC Magazine:

If you can stomach the $12 monthly charge for Yahoo! Music Unlimited To Go, the Sansa Connect is a fantastic device.

Bottom line: If you have frequent proximity to Wi-Fi networks and don’t mind the subscription fee, the Sansa Connect is one nifty gadget. The Wi-Fi connection to the Yahoo! Music Unlimited library obviates the need for larger capacity in the device.


Posted at 7:59 am. Filed under Companies, MP3 Player, Portable Audio, SanDisk, Wi-Fi, Yahoo

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April 26, 2006

Yahoo offers free software personal video recorder for Windows


I’ve mentioned software PVRs before – they’re add-on applications that give your Windows XP PC more or less the equivalent functionality of an XP Media Center PC or for that matter, a dedicated hardware PVR like TiVo. Now Yahoo has stirred things up by offering a software PVR for free:

Yahoo has released a beta version of software that turns a PC into a digital video recorder.

The software, Yahoo Go for TV, is free to download. After the software is installed, people plug their computer into their television’s video and audio input connections. The computer can then record and play back shows on the TV just like with a standalone DVR. Consumers can also play DVDs, music, photos or other downloaded content.

The cost of a few cables and TV tuner card, in comparison with the hundreds of dollars being shelled out for DVD players or DVRs, could lure consumers away from DVR competitors like TiVo. And many industry leaders see TV-computer combinations as the portal for reaching consumers.

The package, acquired from startup Meedio, seems to have the expected functions including television listings and also incorporates other Yahoo properties like the Flickr photo sharing service.

Microsoft said recently that its Windows XP Media Center software is outselling the standard edition of the software, and Hewlett-Packard announced last year that it is developing technology to let high-definition televisions directly access digital content from home computers.

And there’s the rub, of course. You don’t need Yahoo Go for TV if you already have a Media Center PC. Still, it might be attractive for owners of an XP machine that would like to turn it to home entertainment use, so it’s interesting to check out the early reviews and comments.

Dave Zatz has many screen shots but will do a review later

Eirik Solheim has a detailed review which is complicated a little by the fact that he is in Norway which technically isn’t supported. On the other hand, he’s very familiar with Meedio. His net is that very few of the good features of Meedio made the transition to Yahoo, at least in this version, and:

This is what’s going to happen

The existing Meedio community will flee to MediaPortal. This free and open source solution will outperform Yahoo! Go for TV in all areas for the advanced user. With some plugins, the Democracy player in the background, TVTonic and some simple tweaks you get loads of online content for that solution.

For the regular user, Windows Media Center Edition will give you a solid core functionality and huge amounts of content from the net through Online Spotlight.

Thomas Hawk sees no advantages over Media Center, although he may do a full review later.

Dan Ackerman at CNET:

When trying to initially install Yahoo Go for TV, we couldn’t get it to recognize our TV tuner card, even when we swapped in a card on the very short list of supported TV tuner cards. We’re currently troubleshooting the TV tuner card issue, so stay tuned for a full review of Yahoo Go for TV later in the week.

Update: After much installing and uninstalling of hardware, we got one of the TV tuner devices supported by Yahoo Go for TV up and running. Via an external Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-USB2 TV tuner box, we were able to watch live TV and download a local program guide through the Yahoo Go for TV setup interface.

I still think there’s a place for a software PVR on plain Windows XP systems, but it doesn’t look like Yahoo’s current offering is it.


Posted at 11:44 pm. Filed under Companies, Software, Software PVR, Yahoo

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February 23, 2006

Google launches free web site service


Is it nostalgia for the 90′s or am I caught in a time warp? Google has resuscitated the “build yourself a free home page service” concept with a spiffy AJAX Page Creator and mercifully without the annoying ads that were the hallmark of such services in the past. Chris Sherman has the details at SearchEngineWatch:

Google Page Creator is a web based application that uses a basic what-you-see is what-you-get style of interface, designed to allow anyone to create and publish web pages, regardless of skill or knowledge level.

Google Page Creator is a web-based application that runs on any computer or operating system. To use it, you must have a Google account and a Gmail address. Pages that you create are stored on Google servers using a URL convention of gmailname.googlepages.com.

Each user is provided with 100 megabytes of free storage space, and while there is a limit on the amount of bandwidth a site is allowed, Rosenstein says he doubts most people will ever reach the limit. The limit is primarily in place to foil the efforts of spammers, he said.

There are few restrictions on the type of content Google will allow users to publish, though Rosenstein said there won’t be any mechanisms for ecommerce or interactivity.

Pages hosted on Google Pages are ordinary web pages, and will be included in Google’s (and presumably other search engines) web index, though they won’t be given any special treatment in ranking.

Despite their best intentions, I think they are going to have a problem with various forms of abuse. However, a bigger question is, why? Google already has the free Blogger service for would-be webloggers, so the suspicion is that it’s market positioning against the wildly popular MySpace. If so, they are going to need more than a few generalized web site templates to play the interactive user community game.

As for the other players, Yahoo and Lycos still have those golden oldies, GeoCities and Tripod, complete with the annoying ads. The real question is if or how the big names are planning to compete with MySpace.


Posted at 10:11 am. Filed under Companies, Google, Internet, Lycos, Microsoft, Web Design, Web site, Yahoo

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