Archive for January 9th, 2008

UTStarcom’s CES 2008 booth tour

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Technology

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In terms of layout, UTStarcom's booth is close to a dead ringer for its showing at last year's CES; just the promos and handsets have changed, basically. The darlings of the show have to be the HSM180, an absolutely bizarre HSDPA candybar featuring two circles for a keypad, and the TXT8010, a QWERTY slider with an attitude for CDMA networks. Check 'em out, yo.

Gallery: UTStarcom's CES 2008 booth tour

 

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Comcast Quietly Leaches $3/Month From Former Adelphia Customers [Hidden Fees]

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Consumer Interest

How you can tell if Comcast is in your area. A reader from Vermont writes in to let us know that he accidentally discovered Comcast has been charging him a $3/month modem rental fee for a modem he owned, because Comcast claimed that due to poor record keeping, it had no way of distinguishing between Adelphia's modem renters and owners. This fee went on for months undetected because Comcast doesn't itemize such fees on their online statements, only on their printed bills. (Well yeah, because including such details online would waste ink...wait, what?) When our reader called Comcast to have the fees refunded, he was told he'd have to provide proof of purchase for his modem.

Here's his email. We think some of the dates may be a little off, so work out the chronology at your own peril.

First, a little bit of a back story. I signed up with Adelphia for cable internet service back in June of 2006. I went out and bought my own modem and service was fine.

Comcast bought out Adelphia, and that's when the trouble began. On 10/02/07 I started getting charged for leasing a modem (remember I have always owned and used my own). I wasn't given any notice of this, and the charge was not itemized in my online bill, only the paper bill. Since I was expecting a rate increase at that point, the additional 5% went unnoticed.

On 01/05/07 I noticed that I was being charged this fee and called up to complain and have it removed from my bill. What I was told when I called is what disturbed me the most. I was told that Adelphia offered a free lease program to its customers, a service that Comcast didn't have. The records, however, weren't good enough to determine who had the free lease program and who had their own modem, so they decided to just charge everybody and let the customers figure it out for themselves. I was also told that I needed to prove that I purchased this modem by presenting a receipt (on an 18 month old modem I could just have easily purchased off of Craigslist or from a friend).

I got angry at this point and was told by the CSR that an e-mail would be sent to the Billing and Research Department and they would "see what they could do for me" and I could expect a reply within 10 business days. I promptly filed a complaint with the BBB and on Monday received a call from somebody at Comcast. The charges were removed immediately, but who knows how many other customers out there are slowly having $3 a month stolen from them. I know the amount seems trivial, but it's how they treated the situation that got me fired up.


(Thanks to Keith!)
(Photo: Getty)


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Is Dell’s Tech Support Staff Trying To Sell You Things Yet? [Sales Pitches]

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Consumer Interest

con_dellwebsite.jpg We're curious whether anyone has had to call Dell's tech support line in the new year—and if so, did they try to upsell you on unnecessary add-ons, devices, accessories, service plans, etc.? Because we got an anonymous email the other day from someone who claims he works as a Dell tech support specialist, and he wrote that "starting after the first of the year... we are now going to be required to sell you items that you don't need."

I work for Dell as a tech support specialist, starting after the first of the year, we are going to sell you stuff when you call in for Tech support on your system. Not only are you going to be requesting for tech to trouble shoot your system, we are now going to be required to sell you items that you don't need just to make more money for Dell Inc. it's not bad enough that you spent money on a system that is not working but also have to hear a sales pitch on products that you can find else ware cheaper on web or at a local store.
A final funny touch: the email was signed "Tech support/Sales." Sadly, that sounds almost like a position someone would think was a good idea.

Let us know if you encounter any unusual sales pitches on your next Dell tech support call!

(Thanks to Tech Support/Sales!)


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Hands-on with the LimePC

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Technology

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THTF (which stands for Tsinghua Tongfang, if you must know) is at CES showing its LimePC series of simple, lightweight computers, and we took a particular interest in three of 'em, ordered by size from largest to smallest: the UMPC, HandheldPC, and PalmPC (pictured) models. All three pack an uber-low power mobileGT core from Freescale, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, and touchscreen displays; the Palm PC and HandheldPC feature either 8 or 16GB of Flash, while the UMPC upgrades to a hard drive between 30 and 100GB in capacity. Though both the hardware and the Linux-based software were extremely raw here, we see promise in these totally hackable little beasts -- particularly in the smaller of the two, both of which are totally pocketable. Check out the gallery to see all three doing their thing.

Gallery: Hands-on with the LimePC

 

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THX’s CES 2008 booth tour

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Technology

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We took a stroll through the THX booth, where they were showing off all sorts of audio Jedi magic. In-car audio got some attention, evidenced by the Lincoln MKS at the booth featuring THX tech. Worry not, though, the living room experience hasn't been forgotten.

Gallery: CES 2008 THX Booth

 

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Best Buy CEO Admits They’ll Probably Screw Up Digital TV Switchover [TV]

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Consumer Interest

If Best Buy drove a car, this is what would happen. Well, at least he's being honest—Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson announced at CES today that the 2009 switchover from analog to digital television (still a year away) poses "one of the biggest risks our industry has," whatever that means. "The number of converter boxes that is going to be required could put tremendous pressure on us." Oh, you mean because you'll have to have them in stock? Interpretation: if you're going to need a converter box or two, you'd better plan on buying them elsewhere.

Target and Circuit City, on the other hand, were acting almost as if they're in the business of consumer electronics and looking forward to the transition as a selling opportunity. Weird.

Executives with Circuit City and Target agreed the digital TV transition is fraught with challenges.

But the transition presents opportunities as well, says Steve Eastman, vice president and general merchandising manager for consumer electronics at Target. The analog-to-digital switch will get people thinking about high definition and what technology is in their homes, he says.

Target plans to have converter boxes in stores by April.


"Best Buy Fears Digital TV Switch" [CNN Money]
(Photo: Getty)


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Tony Blair will join JPMorgan Chase & Co … [Big Business]

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Consumer Interest

We are very small leaders! Tony Blair will join JPMorgan Chase & Co Inc, the third largest bank in the U.S., as a senior advisor. We wonder if Countrywide is courting President Bush for a similar position in 2009. [Reuters]


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Butt-on with the ButtKicker

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Technology

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Let's be honest, gaming chairs in all flavors of "enhancement" from vibration to sound to cup holders and beyond are quickly becoming a dime a dozen -- but the ButtKicker not only takes a different approach to vibration enhancement than other options but also wins the "most notable name" award in the arena. For one thing, it's not a chair -- it's a device you can install on any office chair to add vibration experience to not just gaming but anything producing sound on your computer including music and other media players. There are also two other versions of the device for use in home theater and auto installations (you can retrofit pretty much any old Lazy-boy in your living room). At $99 the gaming-focused version of the ButtKicker is cheaper than a lot of all-in-one gaming chair solutions as well. Oh, and how does the thing feel? Let's just say it tickled us in many nuanced ways.

Gallery: Butt-on with the ButtKicker

 

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iriver’s M20 GPS media player revealed

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Technology

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We already had the dry details on the M20: a 7-inch PMP with built-in GPS navigation and DMB television. Now the sweet visual jam spread out on your LCD display. Look, don't lick.

Gallery: iriver M20

 

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Video: eCoupled not demoing its wireless power system

Posted by Ry on Jan 09 2008 | Technology

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We were totally stoked to see eCoupled's "Intelligent Wireless Power" system in action -- the rep even said they'd try and cook us a burger on their wireless Foreman grill -- but when Veronica got there, "power fluctuations" kept them from demoing anything more than a Zune that lit up when placed directly on a charging pad. VB was way too nice to call them out on video, but come on -- you don't run around promising wireless burgers and then barely compete with a WildCharger. Check out Veronica's barely-concealed boredom after the break.

Continue reading Video: eCoupled not demoing its wireless power system

 

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