Monthly Archives: January 2010

Avoid Cell Phone Driving Distractions with ZoomSafer

While working on our CES coverage, we had a chance to talk with Matt Howard, founder of a software company called ZoomSafer, which is designed to prevent the urge to text and use your phone while driving.

We all know as new drivers how we shouldn’t text and drive, as it not only impairs our ability to drive properly and puts us and our car at risk, but it also puts everyone else on the road around you at risk. No text, email or Facebook update is important enough to risk your life for.

So what is ZoomSafer and how do they get rid of this urge (which we all admittedly have at times)? ZoomSafer is an app for your BlackBerry or Windows Mobile phone (the Windows Mobile app is currently in beta, with other platforms like Android also in the works) that runs in the background on your phone, and by using GPS,  senses when your driving (when it senses your GPS is going over 15 MPH) and automatically blocks incoming texts and other updates from coming up on screen and distracting you while you drive. The texts are all still there, and once you stop driving you can reply back to them as you please, but ZoomSafer prevents it from flashing all over your screen and thereby becoming a distraction.

It will also lock out your keypad to help fight the urge to send that quick text back, and will also even send out an auto-reply for you saying your driving right now and can’t text/email back. If you really need to check to see if you got a new text, ZoomSafer can read you your texts (albeit in a very computerized voice) and even let you record replies to send back. Now you can still make and receive calls, but they will need to be over a Bluetooth or other hands free device. You are the one who turns ZoomSafer off once you reach your destination, and if you are a passenger in a car and want to use your friend’s phone, you can still exit the app and use the phone and text, IM, email whoever you want (and yes, if you’re a driver and want to ignore ZoomSafer, by all means you could).

We know this seems harsh, but considering how many teen deaths are caused from distracted driving (some studies say this is the leading cause of teen deaths) and how using your phone while driving is illegal in 21 states already, we feel this is a very important PSA to mention. The app itself is free to download, though it will cost either a $2.99 monthly subscription or $25 one time fee to use, something we don’t find too bad at all considering what it could help save.

You can learn more about ZoomSafer at their site here. Video of what ZoomSafer is and how it works after the break.

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There are a lot of great puzzle-like games available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. We recently had a chance to test out a new one called Colorix, a kind of Tetris-Bejeweled mix, and it actually plays pretty well, a great quick game for the bus or killing time.

Made by Mobo Studio, the goal of Colorix is simple— take the sets of 3 colored marbles falling down and try to get match 3 colors together in a row. You can make a row in any direction—horizontally, vertically, and diagonally– and can also get matches in different combos, like having one match lead directly to another. The more matches and combos you get, the more points you accumulate, with the goal to get as many points as you can while avoiding the marbles reaching the top of the screen. Simple, right?

As the marbles fall, you have the power to place the sets of 3 where you want (though they only fall vertically), and while it falls you can either speed up the fall by 2x tapping on the spot you want them to fall (getting you more points), or use swipes to change the order of the marbles. When we first started playing we thought this was way too easy (we picked up the controls pretty easily after playing it a little), but after playing for a little bit, we started to realize a whole bunch of different combinations to get even more points using special marbles (such as Rainbow ones that change after they’re placed—as seen above in the pic). As you get more points and move up to higher levels, the game does also get tougher, with more color combinations and black marbles that stay on the board for a certain amount of turns and block spaces and combinations (as seen in the number 4 marble above).

Gameplay in Colorix is also very smooth, with quick load times and no stuttering during gameplay. The graphics are also surprisingly good for a game like this, with everything looking slick and colorful.

While it isn’t as feature-packed as say a Bejewled or Tetris, Colorix is a solid game for those look for a cheap, fun puzzle game that while not intense, is still very addictive and we’re gonna give Colorix a very good 4 out 5.

Colorix is available now in the App Store for a not too bad price of $1.99 (with a free Colorix Lite version also available now). You can check it out in the App Store here (link opens iTunes)

The Apple Tablet is Real– Meet the iPad

The Apple iPad

Well, it’s official. Apple has finally ended the months (and years) of speculation today, with the announcement of the iPad tablet. What is the iPad? Well for starters, think of it as an iPod Touch– just on so much steroids that it would make Jose Canseco jealous.

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Apple Pre-Event Rumor Roundup

Seeing as that in under 24 hours Apple will finally announce it’s new “creation,” the rumor wire has been burning up on the internet. Seriously, there is every type of rumors here from an actual possibility, all the way to “some guy in his basement’s magic wish.” And while we tried our hardest to stay away from all these rampant rumors, here’s a few of the latest and coolest ones, with our thoughts on if we believe it will actually happen.

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Live ESPN Coming to the Xbox 360?

What with Facebook, Netflix and Twitter already playing on Xbox Live, and with a new Halo and, of course, Project Natal coming out later this year, you’d think Microsoft has done enough to pump up 360 owners for another great year. Well, for all us 360 owners who love all things sports and ESPN, things look to be getting even better.

According to the New York Times, Microsoft is having “super secret” meetings with Walt Disney Co. (the owners of more than Disney land and Disney channel—they also own ABC and ESPN) in order to bring live streaming of ESPN to the 360 (think kinda like the current ESPN360, we know—a perfect name, that lets you watch live games on you computer).

The rumors also say that, unfortunately, this may require some sort of subscriber fee, though if its any consolation, it might be live streaming and some interactive games. Of course seeing as neither Microsoft and Walt Disney haven’t said anything on the topic, take this as an awesome rumor for now.

And I believe this very well could happen. Microsoft over the past couple of years have pushed something called IPTV, or TV over the internet, with the 360 helping drive its case. Getting ESPN and perhaps other Disney-owned channels would be a great way to really build this service up and really make the case for people to ditch their regular cable or satellite.

What you think? You think/want this to happen? You watch any movies or do other things with your 360 beyond gaming? Do you want the 360 to become your “cable box?” Sound off in the comments.

Info from the New York Times. Pic from Engadget

Apple Planning An Announcement for Next Week

We wonder what this could be? Perhaps it’s some sort of tablet device *cough* *cough*. Well, whatever it is that Apple is planning, we’ll know soon enough as invites of an Apple event to “come see what’s our latest creation.” We’ll of course have all the info on what’s announced next week, January 27th, so make sure to check back then.

In the meanwhile, any guesses on what will be announced?

Lenovo Shows Off 2 New Touchscreen PCs

The Lenovo U1 Hybrid, in laptop mode

The Slate PC by Microsoft wasn’t the only touchscreen computer shown off at CES (not by a long shot), and while at CES, Lenovo announced two really cool touchscreen PC’s of their own– the S10-3t netbook, and the U1 which, is… well you’ll see–think of it as a regular laptop mixed with a tablet. Read on for all the info.

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3D Coming to a Television Near You?

Have you seen James Cameron’s Avatar? If you were impressed by the usage of 3D by Cameron to immerse you in the world of Pandora, then you will be amazed by sports and TV in 3D. One of the big themes last week at CES was 3DTV’s in the home and coming this June DirecTV will begin broadcasting a few channels in 3D and one of the big headlines here, is that sports will also be in 3D. Fox Sports and ESPN are already on board to begin showing some games in 3D this summer, though if sports ain’t your thing, don’t worry a number of other broadcasting companies will join them including:

  • TBS
  • NBC
  • MTV
  • and CBS

To go along with 3DTV there will be also be Blu-ray players that can play Blu-ray in 3D! The first Blu-ray player that can play 3D was announced from Sony last and is called the BDP-S770 (this is in addition to Sony updating the PS3 to 3D)

And finally, to go along with 3DTV a bunch of new TVs have been announced that can handle 3D. One in particular is the Sony Barvia LX900 which will come in sizes ranging from 40 – 60 inches, and will be able to broadcast 3D in full 1080P HD.

Now, you’re probably thinking, out of all the 3D movies I have seen, I’ve always had to wear glasses, do I have to wear them in my own house? The answer is for now, yes. There are glasses that will come along with the TVs that will allow you to see the television broadcast in 3D, though there are a lot of companies working on 3D without the annoying glass.

Palm Introduces Pre Plus and Pixi Plus to Verizon; Updates webOS

Yesterday at Palm’s CES keynote, CEO Jon Rubinstein announced what we’ve been waiting for since the Pre first hit one year ago— availability on carriers other than Sprint, like Verizon. Sprint’s exclusives on both the Pre and Pixi have finally run up, so Palm plans to bring some updated version of both devices to Verizon by the end of the month (January 25th!).

But that’s not all. They talked a lot on the future of webOS, something that’s good for all devices (be it Pre, Pixi or the Plus versions). Read on for exciting details on both the new phones and the new software.

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Microsoft Unveils the Slate PC

Microsoft showing off 3 new Slate PC’s

Forget about the Apple Tablet (or as it’s now known as, the iSlate).

Microsoft in their CES keynote tonight just unveiled a whole new type of Windows PC– called Slate PC’s, which, like the rumored Apple Tablet, are all touchscreen Windows 7-running computers, that have multi-touch, and are in sleek, thin designs. As Microsoft is putting it, this is really Windows 7 with an even stronger emphasis on touch.

Microsoft has announced a few early partners for this new PC design– including HP, Archos, and Pegatron. Lemme just say– these things look to be great, and could definitely be the next digital version of not just our books, magazines and newspapers (you have many eReader apps for these PC’s, like the Kindle and Nook’s Windows apps), but could also very well replace traditional laptops and netbooks as the future of both our regular PC experience both for use in school and at home.

As you can see from the shot above of  the 3 Slate PC’s, these devices definitely look to go with the rising tablet trend popping up here at CES (there’s talk of Android tablets, and of course non-stop talk on the Apple Tablet). All in all, if there is one thing we can take out from all this– whether it’s from Microsoft, Apple, Google or some other group — touchscreen and tablet computers are here, and they look to change how we use computers in 2010 and beyond.

We’re still digging for more on these new Slate PC’s, so stay tuned for additional info on them and all the other tablet/slate PC’s. In the meantime though, hit the “more” link for a quick teaser video of HP’s Slate PC (which looks absolutely sick).

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