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Zune Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

Last Build Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 20:33:36 GMT


Farewell, and Thank You For Everything!

Fri, 12 Oct 2012 23:59:00 GMT

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." - Dr. SeussTwelve years ago today, when I made my very first post on Pocket PC Thoughts, I couldn't possibly predict the journey I was taking the first step on. What an amazing, fulfilling, character-defining dozen years it's been! I'm so deeply indebted to all the people along this journey I've befriended, talked with in our forums, and yes, even gotten into rip-roaring arguments with. It all brought me here. So where is "here" exactly?Back in September of 2011, I shared that I had taken a job with HTC, was moving from Canada to the USA, and was selling the Thoughts Media Network. Over the past year, I've had a truly amazing time working at HTC. It's a wonderful job - it's really amazing the things you learn/realize working on "the other side" of the blogger/OEM equation - but it's also all-consuming. My multiple attempts to sell this network all failed, partially due to my lack of time to really follow through. I won't bore you with the details, but let me give some advice to any business owners: when someone offers you a nice chunk of money for your business, and you're ready to sell, don't drag your feet on the paperwork - you never know when that offer will vanish! Oh, and sell when your revenue and momentum are at their peak; don't hold on too long. Evidently these are lessons I needed to learn the hard way. Lessons to teach my son I guess. :-)So where are things at now? This won't come as a surprise to anyone who has watched what has happened to most of the sites in our network over the past year: all six sites across the Thoughts Media Network will go into a permanent state of hibernation effective tonight. This is the final post you'll see on all of them. I care deeply about all of the amazing content the Thoughts Media Team collectively created over the past dozen years, so my plans are to keep the sites online for as long as possible. One week from now, I'll shut down the forums so no new posts can be made. Right now only comments can be posted if you already have an account that has posted in the past - we've had to lock things down in that way to prevent spamming. If you have a message to share with me but don't have a forum account, please send it to me directly.I'd be remiss if I didn't give one final thank you to the amazing team of people I had the honour of working with over the past twelve years. I don't want to list names, because I'll doubtless forget someone. Suffice it to say though that I've been humbled and blessed by the generosity and effort people put into this community. From the words you've read, the videos you've watched, the spam-free forums you've read through, to the designs of the pages and the code and server loading them when you visit - none of that could have been done without the gifted volunteers who collectively helped me create everything that these sites were. I'm deeply indebted to literally hundreds of people who walked with me on this awesome journey over the past decade. THANK YOU!Also, a big thank you to the community itself. All you who came back here, day after day to read and watch our news and reviews, rants and raves. Thank you for your comments, your clicks, your shares, your views. None of this would be possible without you. Remember too the part you play in the success of any Web site: you matter, so support the sites you love so they can keep doing what you want to see.And so, this is the end. If you'd like to keep in touch with me, please reach out on Twitter (@jasondunn) or check in on my personal blog now and then. What an amazing journey this has been...thank you! [...]

Rest in Pieces Zune

Mon, 09 Jul 2012 11:21:00 GMT

"Microsoft is sending Zune to the pasture where Microsoft brands go to die. It's the end of the road for a name that once symbolized Microsoft's grand plans to curb Apple's entertainment ambitions. In a flurry of announcements that Microsoft made Monday at the E3 games conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft executives said the company planned to introduce a new music service, Xbox Music, that would run on the Xbox 360 game console, Windows phones and Windows 8 computers. That service will come out sometime in the fall."

Just in case the past six months haven't proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Microsoft has given up on Zune, the news story linked here drives the point home: Zune as a service is going away, following in the footsteps of the Zune hardware going away.

Alas, poor Zune, I barely knew ye... :-(

RCA's USB Wall Charger, Just Plug It In!

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 05:00:00 GMT

"Most modern smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and other gadgets rely on USB-based chargers. Some of these come with their own AC wall adapters, while others include nothing more than a USB cable-meaning you have to plug them into your computer to get them charged."


The nice thing about this thing is that you just plug it into the existing outlet, so it's basically a cover. No need to replace the current outlet so you don't have to worry about shocking yourself silly. And it goes for the small sum of $15.00 USD at Lowes (currently out of stock in my area), or you can get it at for $12.47 USD (currently in stock with both white and almond colored versions).

Flygrip Will Ease Your One Handed Fears

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 03:00:00 GMT

"So you're walking with your iPhone in one hand, and a Starbucks latte in the other, and granted it is possible to use the iPhone in one hand, it could prove to be "fatal" since one hand tends to offer less support compared to two, and we all know that heart wrenching feeling when your brand new gadget slips out of your hand and onto the hard pavement."


Basically very simple, as all this does is attach to the iPhone case or the iPhone itself and you slide your fingers in and can start using your iPhone one handed without fear of dropping it. I can also be attached to the back of your iPad, or any other tablet for that matter. As you can see from the photos, it doesn't have to be an Apple product to work. Three sizes (small, medium and large) depending on the finger size and you can get them for $29.95 USD each from the Flygrip store located here. That seems a bit spendy to me, and I think I would rather just spend that on a better case. What are your thoughts?

Isn't it Time to Recycle Those Old Electronics?

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 16:00:00 GMT

"This Christmas, there were reportedly nearly 7 million new Android and iOS activations (between December 24 and December 25), which was largely a result of smartphone gift-giving."


Great article on some resources so you know where to go to recycle, or get some cash for those electronics that you have replaced with newer, faster, better versions. I also find that putting them on craigslist seems to work pretty if they are still functional so someone else can get some use out of your newly replaced items. If they aren't functional, check with your local garbage/recycling company for ideas on where to take your non functioning items.

Zune Music Pass Launches In Australia

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 17:40:00 GMT


Oh, yes, fellow Aussies. You'd better believe it. The Zune Music Pass has finally launched in Australia, which means 13 million songs and unlimited music video streaming are now at your fingertips on the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, PC, and web. You can get started now with a free 14-day trial; then, if it's to your liking, continue your subscription for $11.99 AUD per month, or go all out with an annual pass that nets you twelve months for the price of ten. Happy listening!

Reminder: Audioengine A5+ Speaker Contest Closes on Friday

Wed, 26 Oct 2011 15:00:00 GMT


Just a quick reminder that our giveaway contest to win a set of Audioengine A5+ speakers (valued at $399) wraps up on Friday at noon, so enter now!

The Sweet Sound of Quality: Win a Set of $399 Audioengine A5+ Speakers

Fri, 21 Oct 2011 09:00:00 GMT


I may be selling these sites and working full time for HTC now, but who says I can't have a little more fun giving away a great prize before I go? Last week I posted about the new Audioengine A5+ powered desktop speakers; the generous folks at Audioengine have offered up a set of these new speakers for a contest. With dual inputs (3.5mm and RCA, the latter of which is easily converted to an addition 3.5mm input with a cable) and a USB charging port, the A5+ speakers are a great companion to an endless variety of devices: desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and yes, even the humble Zune. Ringing in at $399 USD, these are high-quality speakers that I guarantee will blow you away.

How do you win this contest? Simply post a comment to this discussion thread (one entry per person) telling me what your current audio solution for speakers is and how the Audioengine A5+ speakers will be better. One winner will be randomly selected from amongst all the entries and they'll get to chose either a set of black or white A5+ speakers. Due to the size and weight of this prize, it will only be shipped within the continental USA. The contest will remain open until Friday the 28th at 12 PM mountain time (GMT -7).

Best of luck everyone, and I look forward to reading some interesting entries. :-)

UPDATE: The contest is now over, and the winner is ITforSmallBiz. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Audioengine Introduces A5+ Premium Powered Speaker System

Thu, 13 Oct 2011 13:31:00 GMT

"The Audioengine 5+ (A5+) active speakers deliver audiophile-quality sound and features at a price that continues to set the standard for affordable high-quality audio. Connect your iDevice, computer, TV, or any other audio component for great stereo sound. The goal of Audioengine is to give our customers a high-end listening experience at affordable prices with easy to use, high-quality products. The Audioengine 5 powered speaker system was Audioengine's flagship model and has become a best seller, winning numerous awards along the way. The new A5+ incorporates the same award-winning design as the original A5 but includes customer-requested upgrades and features."


Bar none, Audioengine makes the best speakers I've heard at any similar price point. They simply sound incredible - I reviewed the original A5's back in 2007, and they still sound as good today as they did back then (actually, even better since I bought an Audioengine S8 subwoofer and added it to the mix). With the built-in 3.5mm input jack, they make a great accessory for smartphones, MP3 players, laptops, tablets, etc. I love the sound of AudioEngine speakers so much I have three pairs of their smaller A2 units in my home office. You get the point. :-) AudioEngine's release of the new A5+ speakers brings with it a $50 price increase, making them a pricey accessory at $399, but a set of speakers like this will last for years, through multiple computer upgrades.

What's new about the A5+ over the previous A5's? To quote Audioengine, "advance tuned cabinet with rear-ported waveguide, improved thermal management, upgraded speaker connector binding posts,remote control, variable preamp line out, RCA and mini-jack inputs, and new stand-mount 1/4" threaded inserts". I don't see anything in that list that would make me want to replace my A5's, but if I buy another set of speakers, I'll take a serious look at the A5+ speakers.

The Passing of Zune Made Official

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 00:20:00 GMT

"We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices."


The above statement is from the Zune support page, and the above image from Engadget tells the story. Microsoft will not be making any more Zune hardware. The Zune HD was, and is, a truly great audio player. When I travel I take mine with me because I enjoy having a dedicated audio device. I especially enjoy not caring if I run down the battery on it during a long flight - and I can't say that for my phone. I can't go out and buy a Windows Phone 7 device with 64 GB of storage either, so there's not a true replacement product on the market today. It's not like we didn't see this coming a long way out, but it's still unfortunate to see.

While there are adequate portable media players from the likes of Creative, Archos, etc. none of them have the simplicity of being able to sync with the Zune desktop software. Going back to the days of dragging and dropping folders and manually managing a music collection is a big step backwards in my opinion...the Zune software does a great job at making it easy.

Zune hardware, you could have been a contender. You'll be missed.

I'm Selling These Web Sites, Moving to the USA, and I Got a Job Working for HTC. Any Questions?

Mon, 26 Sep 2011 08:00:00 GMT

I've been writing and re-writing this post in my head over the past couple of months, and that headline was the best I could come up with. It's not easy to encapsulate one of the most significant changes in my life in a single sentence. Now let's unpack that bombshell I've just dropped...The HTC JobI've been working with HTC, the mobile phone and tablet maker, since August 1st of this year. Being a long-time fan of Microsoft's efforts in the mobile space - and largely tying my career to those efforts, for better or worse - I've watched HTC grow from being a nameless, brandless, tiny Taiwanese ODM making Palm-sized PCs/Pocket PCs to the mobile powerhouse they are today. I've always had tremendous admiration for HTC as a company and loved their products, so when someone I knew from Microsoft got a job with HTC in late 2010, I reached out and we started talking. The rest, as they say, is history. I believe HTC is uniquely positioned to do some amazing things in the mobile space over the next few years and I'm excited to be a part of it!Thoughts Media is currently a vendor for HTC USA, and come October 1st, I'll be a full-time employee. I have an H1B work visa, and after closing the sale of my house this weekend (phew!), I'll be moving in the near future to the Bellevue, Washington area with my wife, our two year old son and our dog, and starting my new career. To add a little extra stress into my life, we're also building a new house and will be in temporary lodging until it's finished. Oh, did I mention this is the first corporate job I've held in 13 years? This is the single biggest career transition I've ever gone through.What am I doing for HTC? I'm a part of their social team - the team that focuses on HTC customers via Facebook, Twitter, and other communities. My title is Senior Manager of HTC Communities. I'm creating something special for them that, when the time is right, you'll hear about in a very big way. The job couldn't be more well-suited to my skill-set if I had created it myself. I'm massively excited about the opportunities I'll have at HTC, and my admiration for them as a company has only grown since I've been on the inside. A big shout-out to my awesome team at HTC for making a slightly bewildered Canuck feel right at home.Effective October 1st, I'll also be retiring from the Microsoft MVP program. This ends a 14 consecutive year run that has been profoundly rewarding on both a professional and personal level. I became a Windows CE MVP when I was 22 years old; I've been an MVP for more of my adult life than not, so it was a big decision to remove my name from being renewed for the next year. I have some amazing memories and made some great friends being a part of the program, and I'm forever grateful to Microsoft for allowing me to be a part of it.You may have noticed my recent posts about HTC on Windows Phone Thoughts or Android Thoughts have contained zero commentary - just the facts. It's been difficult to try and keep the two worlds separate, which leads me to...Selling the Thoughts Media NetworkMonths before I started seriously talking to HTC, I was exploring the sale of my Web sites. I've said no to several offers over the years, but it's now time to sell. I've loved running these sites since launching my first one (Pocket PC Thoughts) an incredible 11 years ago, but I've felt for a couple of years now that I needed a career change. When you stop acquiring new skills at a job, and you feel like you've gotten all the experience out of it that you can, it's time to look for something different.I say this with no sense of exaggeration: it has been one of the great joys in my life working with the amazing volunteers who keep things humming across all six of my sites, and I'm forever indebted to them - and to you, our awesome c[...]

Xbox Live Coming to Windows 8

Tue, 13 Sep 2011 16:56:00 GMT


The above image is from someone's Flickr account, so I'm not sure if it's real, but Engadget is reporting that Xbox Live is coming to Windows 8. This is impressive - between the Xbox hooked up to a TV, a Windows Phone, and Windows 8 on a PC or tablet, Microsoft has a three-screens entertainment strategy that can actually compete with Apple's iTunes ecosystem. Not bad Microsoft, not bad at all. Note that there's no word "Zune" anywhere in that screen shot, or on the Engadget one. That reinforces to me that the Zune brand is on the way out...but I wonder what they'll re-brand the awesome desktop software to? Xbox doesn't make sense as a media player brand - well, not to me at least.

V-MODA Vibrato Headphones Reviewed: They're Worth It

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 07:30:00 GMT

If you've ever shopped for headphones, you've likely come across V-MODA. They make a variety of headphones in different price segments, but I've never reviewed any of them until now. I was offered the chance to review the V-MODA Vibrato headphones ($129.99 USD from Amazon), and since I'd heard good things about V-MODA headphones, I said yes. I'm glad I did, though that conclusion took some time to get to. Confused? Keep reading.You see, when I first got the Vibrato's, I tried all four sizes of the black silicone tips (they also give you a set of clear tips) and settled on the largest size because the fit seemed right. I proceeded to test the Vibrato's over the next two weeks, and was very underwhelmed by their sound - the lows in particular were missing. I did something I rarely do: I checked out what other reviewers said about this product. Every review I found was quite positive about the sound quality, especially the bass, so I was puzzled. I went back to the silicone tips and went down by one size...and guess what? I finally got a proper seal and now I see what everyone is raving about! The lesson? Don't assume you have the best fit the first time you try.The dynamic range of the Vibrato's is impressive. This is the part of the review where most reviewers would start to name-drop obscure artists and songs to somehow prove their elite status as audiophiles worthy of gracing you with their opinion. Not here. I listened to the kind of music I enjoy: pop (Kelly Clarkson, Glee), worship (Jeremy Camp, Jesus Culture), rock (John Mayer, Red, Daughtry), orchestral scores (Two Steps From Hell), country (Johnny Cash) and even some rap (Mr. Marshall Mathers is one of the few rap artists I enjoy). Everything sounded great - the high end is crisp, mid-tones well-balanced, and the bottom end is really quite impressive for headphones of this size. Describing audio quality is like trying to describe a colour, but suffice it to say I don't enjoy crappy sounding headphones and I like sound from the Vibrato's a lot. I found they needed some decent volume to really sound good (volume level 20 of 30 on my Zune HD), but that varies depending on your hearing.The gold standard for me are my Ultimate Ears headphones. About five years ago I got my hands on a few different models of Ultimate Ears, and everything I plug in gets compared to those. The V-MODA Vibrato headphones sound better and have fuller bottom end than the 2 ($99), but they should given the price difference. I also compared them to the dual-driver 5 EB, and they couldn't quite measure up to the bass - but the EB's were $249 when they were on the market. The point is, the Vibrato's stack up quite well against the competition at the price point.Beyond the strong sound quality, I really like the fact that the cables are wrapped in Kevlar-reinforced fabric - it helps keep them from getting tangled. The 3.5mm connector is plated in 24K gold, and it veers off at a 45 degree angle. I'm sure there's a good reason for it, but it looks cool. There's also a pendant where the two headphone cables meet; it's made of the kind of shiny plastic that will doubtless look terrible after a few months of nicks and scratches, but it helps keep the headphone cables from flying around too much.Here's the really good news: the Vibrato's are perhaps the most comfortable in-ear headphones I've ever used. My much-vaunted Ultimate Ears headphones sound fantastic, but after two hours or so my ears would be quite sore. I've used the Vibrato headphones for four hours straight and there isn't the slightest bit of discomfort. That's incredibly valuable to me. Ditto for the slender carrying case; it's very travel friendly compared to the metal container of my Supfe[...]

Zune Client Updated, Ready for Mangoey Goodness

Fri, 26 Aug 2011 12:00:00 GMT

"Microsoft released a new version of the Zune software client today. This incremental update brings the version number up to 4.8 and adds support for Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” handsets. The Zune software and services are also available in a wider selection of countries, including Canada and Australia. Interestingly, Zune Pass has been renamed to Zune Music Pass. Could an all-you-can-eat video subscription service be coming in the near future? We hope so. A video subscription service has been rumored for a long time, and it would make the Zune service even more compelling on the PC, Zune devices, Windows Phone, and Xbox."


Hot and fresh, the Zune 4 .8 update is out with support for the new generation of Windows Phone 7.5 (a.k.a. Mango) phones, and bumps up the number of supported languages in the software to 22 languages. The software is available to download in 39 countries, but the confusing array of international availability hasn't been remedied much in this release. There were signs a few weeks ago of the Marketplace expanding to countries beyond US and Western Europe but they're conspicuously absent in this release (although they should still be coming soon). Also added is 48-hour movie rentals, a streamlined update and sync/backup experience, and an option to see what apps are compatible with your phone before you buy them. In all a relatively minor update but certainly welcome to Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" users.

Zune Marketplace Semi-Live in Canada, Official soon?

Wed, 17 Aug 2011 13:45:00 GMT

"So as you now know, traces of the Canadian music Marketplace have shown up a few times quite late at night. This time though, I was able to pull a digital “stakeout” and dig a bit deeper into the availability. As I had previously posted, purchases and individual artist pages were unavailable and would throw an error message back to me, yielding nothing usable or interesting. Last night at 11:24 pm I tried a search for The Bird and the Bee and to my surprise, it showed up with a picture and the artist’s albums available on the Marketplace. Before the network went back down I clicked on a song that I wanted to purchase and viola! It worked! No error message telling me that those services “are not available in my region.” The song downloaded without error and I have officially purchased my first song through the Zune Marketplace."


While Zune users in the U.S. have had the ability to buy and rent music, movies, and TV shows for as long as they've been offered on the Marketplace, international users (like our own Jason Dunn, from Canada) have generally been treated like second-class citizens, gaining access several years late or not at all. The situation was fixed somewhat in 2009 with the introduction of Movies and TV shows to Canada, U.K., France, Italy, and others, but still no music store. This seems to be changing, as Zunited's Josh Martin noticed that the Marketplace was often live in Canada during the night, an indication of them testing the service for a possible upcoming launch. That he was able to search for and purchase music is definitely a good sign of an international launch, but it seems a bit odd they'd flip the switch to allow public users before making an official announcement. Here's hoping we hear something soon. The Marketplace needs to go international. And fast.

Have Music Subscription Service Finally Gone Mainstream?

Fri, 12 Aug 2011 13:00:00 GMT

"Acquiring new music can be a very addictive and expensive hobby. Downloading an album or the new single from that hot new band from iTunes a few times a month can add up quickly. Which is why new subscription services are garnering so much buzz lately - for $5 to $10 a month these websites offer an easy, affordable (and somewhat legal) way to get all the music you want."

I can hear the people inside the Zune offices at Microsoft screaming "We've been doing this for years!?!" as they sob quietly in their cubicles. For whatever reason - likely because it's Microsoft - the Zune Pass option just never managed to gain wide-spread traction. The price probably had a lot to do with it - $15 is too expensive for many people, especially when the competition comes in closer to the $10 price point.

I've personally never really gravitated toward a service like this because my own collection of music is somewhere in the realm of 14,000 songs. When it comes to needing music to listen to, I've got it covered - however, I've shifted from purchasing full CDs to the more common practice of cherry-picking the tracks I want and the growth of that collection has slowed considerably.

The social aspect of these services may be their most compelling feature; I just signed up for a trial of Rdio, a service I'd heard of but hadn't tried, and I'm really impressed with how I can see what others are listening to and explore music in different ways. Yes, Zune has had similar features for a while now, but I've never found the Web-based version of Zune very intuitive or functional. Part of that is the ongoing struggle I have being a Canadian trying to use Zune services. I grew tired of the cat-and-mouse game with the Zune team making it increasingly more difficult for non-supported countries to access Zune goodness. But let's not get started down that road, or I'll be spitting at my screen in no time.

Do you subscribe to a service like Rdio, Spotify, Rhapsody, Zune Pass, etc.?

Get Extra Device Power with the Tekkeon myPower MP3750 External Battery

Mon, 25 Jul 2011 07:30:00 GMT

Please click on the video title above to watch it on YouTube in 1080p full screen video.Who doesn't' want more battery life from their mobile device? I think we all do. I've been on a personal quest for years to find the best multipurpose external battery that I could find. I've looked at a few of them of the years (such as this one, and this one), but every one I've looked at has had limited functionality in some way. Usually it's that it's not compatible with whatever new laptop I'm using. The Tekkeon myPower MP3750, which sells for $119 in the Digital Home Thoughts store, is versatile battery in that it not only serves as a power source for a laptop, but with the USB port it can power a variety of devices. I was eager to take a look at it, and for the most part have been quite impressed with it. How did it perform? In the video I talked about using it with my Dell Vostro V13, but I was rattling off numbers from a test I did at least six months ago. My test notes tell a different, and better, story. I used my Dell Vostro V13, at full screen brightness with Wi-Fi turned off, on a three hour car trip with it connected to the MP3750. At the end of the trip, my Vostro V13 still had a full charge, and the MP3750 still had three of six charge bars remaining. Based on that performance, I should be able to get around six hours from the MP3750, then a minimum of another three from the V13, all at full screen brightness. The MP3750 allows me to turn my Vostro V13 into a 9-hour laptop (sans WiFi mind you), which is something I've wanted since I moved on from my dual-battery Fujitsu P7010 laptop.Next I fired up the extended edition of Lord of the Rings, which clocks in at 2 hours and 51 minutes long. With a fully charged V13 battery, and a fully charged MP3750, I set the brightness on my laptop to 100%, turned off WiFi, and let it play. Normally, the V13 can't make it through the entire movie - it comes very close at 2 hours a 46 minutes. By leaning on the MP3750 for power, I was able to play the entire LOTR movie twice, all the way through, which amounts to 5 hours and 42 minutes. Amazingly, the V13 still had 15% battery life remaining.When it comes to charging devices via the USB power, the MP3750 seems to be much less efficient, being essentially drained after recharging my iPad 2 once even though the battery indicates it should be able to do nearly two full charges. Still, it's incredibly useful to have something that can kick out enough juice to charge an iPad 2 and also be compatible with a laptop. If you're a frequent traveller and you find yourself away from a wall socket for extended periods of time, the Tekkeon MP3750 is worth serious consideration.Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, his wonderful son Logan, and his sometimes obedient dog. He likes devices that have long battery life, but he won't be happy until battery life is measured in days, not hours, of usage.Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information. [...]

25% of Car Crashes Occur Because of Gadget Distraction

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 10:00:00 GMT

"Driving distractions, primarily by cellphones and other electronic devices, are associated with up to 25 percent of U.S. car crashes, according to a report released on Thursday. The study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a nonprofit group that works to improve traffic safety, assessed research from more than 350 scientific papers published since 2000."


This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone, but no matter how good of a driver you are, the second that anything - a cell phone, the radio, reaching for a cup of coffee, etc. - takes you eyes off the road, you're dramatically increasing the risk of having an accident. Texting and overall cell phone use is just the latest trend in a problem that has occurred since the invention of the automobile...though I'd guess that back in the Ford Model T days, with no radio to fiddle with, GPS to check, or phone to answer, there were a lot less accidents due to distracted driving. Topping out at 45 Mph also helped!

The Zune HD is Dead. Long Live the Zune HD!

Wed, 06 Jul 2011 11:22:00 GMT


There have been a few updates in the world of Zune over the past week or so.

First, Microsoft has discontinued Zune Originals. That's right, no more custom Zune HDs are available for order. I did a little eye-roll when this happened, because I wanted a 64 GB Zune HD but was waiting for the price to drop a little more. Looks like I waited too long! The Zune Originals Web site says to go look for a Zune HD at Best Buy or Wal-mart, but good luck with that. Zune all but died at retail a long time ago.

In the same week, the Zune team released nine new Zune HD apps, along with updates for a few older apps. Anythingbutipod has the full breakdown on the new apps. I'm in Canada, and despite the announcement two full months ago about the Zune HD apps coming to Canada, I'm still seeing this ugly error when I try to browse the Zune HD apps in the marketplace:


Lastly, there's software update for the Zune HD that takes it from 4.5 Build 109 to 4.5 Build 114. I have no idea what it adds or changes, because Microsoft doesn't release changelogs about the update.

It baffles me as to why Microsoft continues to release apps for a product they've ignored and marginalized in an epic way. I mean, what's the point?

Nanosys Screen Technology: A Quantum Leap Forward in Colour Accuracy?

Fri, 24 Jun 2011 21:00:00 GMT

"When Nanosys CEO Jason Hartlove pulled two iPads out of his bag and turned them on one looked like when I first saw my first Kodachrome slide while the other looked muddy and crappy in comparison (I pulled out my own iPad and saw my screen looked muddy and crappy in comparison too). The new one was clear, beautiful, stunning, with richer colors than I had ever seen on a screen before."


I highly value great display technology and based on what I'm reading about Nanosys, this could be a major leap forward. The challenge here is that since none of us are going to watch this video on a Nanosys display, we can't actually tell how much better it is. While I don't think "our lives will change forever" as the hyperbolic Robert Scoble puts it, it looks like Nanosys is positioned to make a big splash in the display industry. The Nanosys system allows for just over 60% of the colour gamut that the human eye can see. In comparison, a typical tablet is 20%, a typical HDTV is about 35%, and the NTSC broadcast standard is about 50%.

A lot of technology like this goes nowhere, but the Nanosys CEO says their technology will be in a tablet by the end of the year, and in TVs in 2012. Since this is a film, it should technically work in essentially anything with an LCD screen: phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, etc. I'm looking forward to this, especially since the CEO says their product is essentially cost-neutral so industry pick-up should be swift.