Monthly Archives: February 2011

  • Five things we want from the new iPad, and why

    February 28, 2011 - Leave a Comment


    It's been reported that Apple will make an iPad 2 announcement on March 2nd, giving us a few days to dream about what the next generation of iPads has in store for us.

    (WIRED) -- Apple will announce the iPad 2 next Wednesday, as made rather obvious by invites sent out to press this morning.

    Apart from the new iPad, that means one thing: speculation. I'm not immune, so here's my list of things I think will make it into an already capable machine. I have stuck to features, rather than things like CPU speed, as the internal specifics matter less than what they actually enable you to do.


    Obvious, this one. We're almost certain there will be a front-facing camera for FaceTime and other webchat applications, but I really don't care. I'll use that for Skype once in a while and that's it. What I want is a decent rear-facing camera, like that in the iPhone (not the crippled piece of junk in the iPod Touch).

    Why? Because it would be so useful, and not just for photography. Augmented reality, Instagram, scanning things, snapping photos and then drawing on top of them, the list goes on.

    One of the things I took away from all the tablets I tried at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week was just how good a camera is on a big device. It seems like it would be awkward, but the big screen is great for composing and the size turns out not to matter at all.


    The single iPad speaker isn't bad, but for movies and music you really want something beefier, and preferably in stereo. The rumors point to at least one big speaker grille on the back of the iPad's case. Currently I get around this with an assortment of Bluetooth speakers around my apartment, but I'd rather do without them.

    SD card slot

    This one would be purely for importing photos and video. Basically, it would be nothing more than a built-in camera connection kit.

    The Apple's Camera Connection Kit is great, but it is one more thing to lose and carry. I use my iPad more and more for processing photos (courtesy of Photogene and FX PhotoStudioHD), and until I can send direct from my camera via Eye-Fi, a slot is a lot more convenient than yet another dongle in my bag.

    A better connector

    The 30-pin dock connector is one of the worst things Apple has made (the other is "all mice it has ever created"). It is symmetrical, so it's hard to put in the right way in bad light. It's delicate (the cord breaks easily where it enters the plug) and worst of all, it's huge. In fact, the iPod Nano is barely big enough for the connector slot.

    The likeliest candidate for a replacement is Light Peak, or Apple's rumored implementation of it, Thunderbolt, which might show up in this week's new MacBook Pros. This could be a small port that could carry power and data of any kind.

    That in itself would be good enough, but you know what I'd really like? A Thunderbolt data-cable with a MagSafe plug. That would be just about perfect.

    Better case

    The size and weight of the current iPad are just fine. Anyone who complains that a 1.5 pound sliver of aluminum and glass is too heavy needs to shut up and go join a gym. But it is slippery. I keep mine in Apple's own case 24/7. This is partly to protect the screen, but mostly to stop me dropping it, especially when I'm walking on crutches with it tucked under my arm.

    A little more friction on the back would help a lot. Perhaps a plastic rear, or just a grippy coating.

    Bonus: The screen

    This is a small request. I don't want a retina display (or rather I do, but I don't want the current penalties of price and battery life associated with it). All I want is a dimmer screen.

    The brightness at the top end is fine, but even at its dimmest setting, the screen is too bright for using indoors at night. It's true, I keep my apartment fairly dim (I call it "moody and romantic," but you may call it "cheap"), but unless you keep your place lit up like an office, the screen glows a little too much.

    Those are my requests. What about yours? Do you want a built in printer? A near-field communications chip to turn your iPad into the world's biggest wallet? Or even a flashlight? Let us know your suggestions, as ever, in the comments.

  • 11 Businesses You Can Start in Your Pajamas in 2011

    February 25, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    When Dennis Anderson was asked if he considered himself more of an
    artist or an entrepreneur, he thought for a moment and replied, “Well,
    somewhere in between. I like creating things.” Anderson has achieved what so many Americans crave: he has turned his craft—organic soap making, or saponification—into a profitable business from his home. Anderson Soap Company launched in 2007 in his California apartment,
    and has since moved into a rented house in Portland, Oregon, where he
    lives with his fiancée and children. Anderson, who started out as an
    accounting major in college, fell in love with soap making after
    taking a chemistry course that taught him the process. He has sold
    soaps to buyers in all 50 states and distributes internationally to
    Malaysia, Singapore, France, and Sweden.

    The children’s clothing industry is a multi-billion dollar market, and
    a recent surge of interest for specialized kid's gear has given companies like Monkey Toes, a Colorado-based venture run by Jenny Ford, a niche in this burgeoning market. Monkey Toes is a line of animal and insect-themed footwear for children. Ford started the company in 2002 after drawing designs on her daughter’s shoes. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s cute,’” Ford recalls. “I fell in love with it.” She chose to keep her business at home to be able to spend more time with her two young daughters, but lack of an office hasn’t stymied the growth of the brand. Ford currently distributes in stores all over the world, and recently signed a new distribution deal that will take the product into the hands of 100 representatives around the country.

    Kene Turner understands the value of building a better business. After
    all, that's his job. The mission of EpiLife is to help organizations
    achieve social responsibility by implementing special project-based initiatives within their communities. Before launching EpiLife, Kene worked for the YMCA of New York, where he taught youth entrepreneurial programs. EpiLife is based out of Turner's home in New York City, and represents his desire to give back to the community that helped him in his own childhood. “When I was a teen I lost my mom to cancer,” he
    says. “I never knew my father. I was a child in transition. I had
    family, but not much. The ones that really helped me were members of
    the community...and it was that message that I want to implement into
    a venture or business.”

    Ann Whitley Wood is an attorney-turned-entrepreneur who saw a market for designer goods and collectibles on eBay nearly 10 years ago. In
    what started out as a hobby, Wood now manages over 350 listings on eBay through her store Willow-Wear, and works with about 40 clients on any given day from her home in Texas. In 2010, Wood sold over 1,100 items for about $450,000—making her one of eBay’s true “powersellers.”
    Though she does not keep inventory in her house, working from home has
    been an integral part of her business. “I had to be able to sell on
    eBay from home, in between taking care of my children and managing the
    rest of life,” Wood says. To be successful as an eBay entrepreneur,
    Wood says you must have an acute understanding of your product, as
    well as your competition.

    Wedding dresses are bought (one hopes) only once, making them one of
    the most expensive purchases in a woman's life. So Emily Newman
    thought, why not buy second-hand? “I saw a need where women my age were dealing with a lot of the same things,” says Newman, the founder of the Once Wed, an online wedding community, based in Atlanta. “They didn’t have a huge budget, but they still wanted to wear a beautiful
    dress.” So Newman and her husband, who works in online advertising,
    teamed up to launch Once Wed, a site for brides-to-be. The site has
    grown from a used dress listing service to the be-all resource for
    brides, similar to Once Wed puts together inspiration
    guides and a popular blog, which helps drives traffic to the site.

    NetFoliage is a web development company that creates web sites for
    small businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists. It’s also one of a
    growing number of web development companies that specialize in building e-commerce sites and online stores for social networking sites like Facebook. Nizam, who is originally from Istanbul, has been
    based out of his Brooklyn apartment since he launched the company in
    2007—and plans to stay in his home, too. “Honestly, it didn’t even
    occur to me to rent an office,” he says. “I didn’t have the time or
    the need to think about. I would never do it—it’s becoming a
    lifestyle. I can go on vacation without worrying about anything. I
    turn off my phone and the business is closed.”

    You don't need to attend a BlogHer Convention to realize that "mommy
    bloggers" are a force to be reckoned with. Michelle Mitton was one of
    the first "mommy bloggers" to make a name for herself and her blog Scribbit, almost six years ago. In 2008, she was selected by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten blogs about motherhood, and her
    site attracts nearly 60,000 page views every month and 2,300 daily
    subscribers. Mitton publishes recipes, household tips, product
    reviews, and has even written a book about blogging, all from her home
    in Alaska. “With so many blogs out there, you have to be the ‘purple
    cow' as Seth Godin talks about. I try to diversify my topics a bit—I
    even have a few men [readers].”

    Chris McCann (pictured) and Brendan McManus launched
    as a resource for entrepreneurs looking to get involved in their
    community and connected with other entrepreneurs. The site has seen remarkable growth; in just a little over a year, the site has grown to 100,000 subscribers and has spread to over 50 cities. And though the content reaches people all over the world, McCann and McManus rarely have to leave their house in Palo Alto, California. “When you’re on a shoestring budget, and if the deciding factor is to spend money to get
    the office or spend money and do the marketing and get the product out
    there, do all that stuff first,” says McCann. “An office should not be
    high on your lists of priorities.”

    Ann Gaffigan felt that there needed to be more mainstream media
    coverage of women’s sports. So, about two years ago, she teamed up
    with two co-founders to launch, an online network that has become one of the most thorough purveyors of women’s sports news. “We didn’t research the market for this,” Gaffigan says from her home in Kansas. “It just came from our belief that something like this really needed to happen, and we want the next generation to see positive female role models.” There are over 100 websites that link to, and about 70 bloggers on the site. While the
    site's traffic varies depending on the season, the site swells when
    national competitions are brought to the spotlight. During the
    Vancouver Olympics, for example, the site had over a million visitors.

    Who said custom designed shirts had to be expensive? Blank Label is a
    Boston-based start-up that allows users to design custom dress shirts,
    choosing the fabric, pattern, buttons, and size, for a modest price
    under $100, depending on the extras. Blank Label was created by Danny Wong (center) and three co-founders (and classmates) in the summer of 2009. After a brief period of incubation by their college, Babson, the
    team chose not to take on an office lease. “It worked better for us,”
    says Wong. “We didn’t want to pay for office space.” The founders
    lived together in Shanghai for several months, developing
    relationships with suppliers and working out of their living room. At
    one point, they were operating with members based from home in three
    different time zones around the world, but Wong says it’s never been a

    Stacy Blackman knows what it takes to get into one of the nation’s top
    MBA programs. Blackman, a who received her own MBA at the Kellogg
    Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, turned her passion for helping students gain admission into MBA programs into her full-time job after years working in private equity. “When I first started my business, I wasn’t trying to start a business; I was just doing something I really enjoyed.” Now, Stacy Blackman Consulting has turned into one of the premier MBA international consulting firms, with clients and consultants based all over the world. Blackman has
    even graced the cover of Fortune, and published a book titled The MBA
    Application Roadmap.

  • Product Review: Bella So Savvy

    February 18, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    zBoost Metro YX540 Cell Phone Booster

    Can you hear me now? Hello? Are you still there? Hmm… I guess not. Dang it, dropped call AGAIN!

    We live in a small suburban city that’s surrounded by farms and empty fields. I would think that our cell phone service here would be better since there’s not a lot around us unlike a large, busy city filled with tall buildings BUT that’s not the case.

    Maybe the nearest tower is outdated or blocked in some way. I do know that after signing our newest contract, our service provider changed the location of the cell tower where our signal comes from to one further away from our home and that’s when our problems started.

    Since cell phones have become an integral part of our lives — helping us stay connected to family and friends — it’s pretty important that we maintain service, especially for emergency situations. I can’t count the number of times our cell phones have came in handy for those when we’ve been out and about. And it’s quite annoying when you’re trying to make, receive or stay on a call when all of a sudden the phone just disconnects for no apparent reason. This happens way more than is acceptable in our home in my opinion.

    I know one thing, I surely do NOT want to have to go outside to make and or receive phone calls, especially during the nasty, bitter winter months. As much money as we pay for our service, there is no way I’m going to freeze my patootie off just because our service sucks!

    Just recently I learned that there IS an available alternative and that is the zBoost Metro YX540 Cell Phone Booster offered by Wi-Ex. The zBoost Metro YX540 is a signal amplifier or cell phone booster that was created for consumers who reside in single story urban dwellings. These are also designed for multiple users in homes and or offices with space up to 1500 square feet in size.

    It supports all U.S. phones and mobile devices using 800 and 1900 MHz and does not require an outdoor antenna.

    Here’s What You Get With a zBoost Metro YX540 Kit:

    • zBoost Metro Base Unit
    • Base Unit Antenna
    • Window Mount Signal Antenna
    • Base Unit Antenna
    • Coax Cable (RG59-Mini, 40 feet)
    • Power Supply
    • Short Suction Cup Attachments
    • Long Suction Cup Attachments

    Set up is quite easy since the kit contains everything you need and no tools are required. To get started, it’s a good idea to read over the instructions before permanently installing the antenna’s. Also, make sure you can place calls near the location you plan to install the antenna. The base unit will only amplify a signal that is received at the signal antenna. The obvious way to find this out is by placing a call near the ideal location to verify there is enough signal to be amplified.

    For the next step, place the signal antenna on the interior of a window located in the area of your chosen site. To do this, choose either the large or small suction cups provided in your kit, fasten them to the back of the antenna and adjust the antenna so that it is secured into place. The higher you can seat the antenna, the better. The antenna is situated vertically so that the coax is coming out of the bottom of the antenna box.

    Click the image below for a closer look…

    Next, connect the base unit antenna and coax to the base unit and place it in the location where you need a signal. For the most optimal signal, it’s recommended that you position the unit near the middle of a room or on an interior wall. The base unit uses an omni-directional antenna that delivers a signal in a circular motion around the antenna. The system does not require a vertical separation but the two antenna’s should have at least 8 feet of horizontal separation for best performance. One nice feature is that you can either mount the base unit to a wall or place it on a flat surface. Just make sure the unit is kept at a distance of at least 2 feet away from other cords or metal objects, including other wireless devices such as routers.

    Once the devices are connected and plugged into a power supply, you wait up to 60 seconds for the units to start broadcasting a signal. The LED indicator light will let you know if the unit is functioning properly by either emitting a green or red light which may or may not be flashing. You can compare the results with the user’s manual if you experience any issues.

     Technical Benefits:

    • Boost indoor signal coverage up to 1500 square feet
    • Compatible with all U.S. carriers and mobile devices using 800 & 1900 MHz frequencies
    • Increases voice and data transmission; decreases dropped or missed calls
    • No outside antenna placement required
    • Requires no cradle or connections to your phone
    • Extends phone battery life; uses less power when signal is stronger

    How Does It Measure Up?

    The zBoost Metro base antenna measures 5″ x 7″ x 1.25″ D and the Signal Antenna measures 7.25″ x 5.5″ x 2.25″.

    We’ve been averaging an additional 1 – 2 bars per phone call since installing the zBoost Metro, which is great because the dropped calls have lessened and that’s exactly what I was hoping for. Another thing I really love is that we can now receive a signal in our basement. Something we never had before. My son Derek appreciates this because while he’s down there in the weight room working out, he can receive calls from all of the girls. hahaa

    BUY IT!

    The zBoost Metro YX540 Cell Phone Booster retails for $299.99 and can be purchased at

    If you’ve got a poor signal and need something for a larger or smaller dwelling, Wi-Ex has you covered with cell phone boosters that amplify up to 3000 square feet as well as up to 1200 square feet. Go check ‘em out and bring your phone calls indoors!

    ~The views & opinions expressed in my posts are simply mine. My views & opinions may differ from other consumers. I did not receive financial compensation for my post but did receive the zBoost Metro kit from the manufacturer or PR Agency and was under no obligation to write a positive post.~

  • Pepcom Press Event at MWC 2011

    February 16, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    The PR team had a great time at the Pepcom press event in Barcelona!




    Videos to come!

  • zBoost Your Mobile Phone Notspots

    February 14, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    zBoost Provides the Connected Consumer and Digital Workforce an

    End to Dropped Calls and Slow Data


    Wi-Ex is showcasing its zBoost International product line including the zBoost-ONE UMTS 3G Signal Booster and zBoost for Home and Office at the 2011 Mobile World Congress in Hall 2-0 booth 2J29. 



     zBoost eliminates mobile phone notspots by increasing the mobile signal indoors and eliminating dropped calls and slow data. Recent speed tests showed that the zBoost line of mobile signal boosters can increase data speeds by as much as 180 percent or almost three times as fast.* 




    Recent industry statistics state that global mobile phone data has nearly tripled in the last year, growing more than ten times faster than voice.  With zBoost, users can take full advantage of voice, data and Internet services on their iPhone, Blackberry, DROID, smartphone, iPad and other tablets including 3G high speed data, video, instant messaging, pictures and more at home and in the office.


    "Mobile notspots are a challenge for consumers and businesses.  A poor mobile phone signal results in dropped and missed calls, as well as very, very slow or non-existent data and Internet access—even on a 3G phone  Our recent tests, showed a data speed increase of more than 180 percent - almost three times as fast  with our mobile signal boosters," said Lloyd R. Meese, CEO of Wi-Ex.  "With the continued growth of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, products like zBoost are becoming a necessity for today's digital lifestyle. The zBoost line of products improves signal strength for better voice and data transmission while maintaining the integrity of the carriers’ networks using patented technology.”


    Click here to see all of the Wi-Ex international products.


    Click here to see all Wi-Ex products and see which zBoost is right for you!



  • Wi-Ex will be at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week!

    February 10, 2011 - Leave a Comment


    Wi-Ex will be at stand 2J29 in Hall 2 at MWC 2011! If you're planning to attend the show, stop by and see us!

  • Article of the week: "5 Gadgets to Love: Products designed to overcome life's little problems"

    February 10, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    image The Parrot DIA digital photo frame allows you to upload photos via bluetooth—perfect for iPhone users.

    The annual Consumer Electronics Show is the biggest playground of cool gadgets on the planet. It’s where companies from across the globe choose to unveil their latest techno-gear. Of course, there was plenty of 3D this and that. Web tablets were everywhere. Connectivity between TVs and the Internet; kitchen appliances and the iPad … and everything else electronic was demonstrated and discussed at booth upon booth. These technologies hold great promise for the future, so they deserved the fanfare. However, there were plenty of smaller, less expensive, personal items, too. Here are a few of my favorite finds. They might not be super high tech or game changing, but they could definitely solve some of the little issues I have in my own home.

    Ever since my cell phone service provider upgraded to 3G (just a few weeks ago), I haven’t been able to make or take calls from inside my home. The bars just aren’t there. It’s extremely frustrating—not to mention cold—to have to stand inside my unheated sunroom to chat with my friends and family.

    The solution: zBoost from Wi-Ex. According to speed tests, the product can increase data speeds by as much as 180 percent. The YX545 model covers a 3,000-square foot home; $399.

    I’ve been battling high blood pressure for about 13 years. Per doctor’s orders, I measure my BP every day (well, almost every day). I use a portable cuff with an attached reader. Takes 10 seconds to do—no biggie. I’m also supposed to keep a running tally of my readings. You’d think this would be easy too, but for some reason (I’ll blame the kids), the pencil and notepad I keep by my reader disappear mysteriously into thin air.

    The solution: iHealth Blood Pressure Monitoring System ( Comprised of a hardware dock, blood pressure arm cuff, and the iHealth app, the system lets you record your readings onto your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad; $99.95, the app is free.

    I received as a gift a couple of Christmases ago a digital photo frame. I really liked it at first, but after a month or so I was ready to pack it up. It did nothing but collect dust and test my patience. Loading pictures into the frame was a huge pain.

    The solution: DIA from Parrot. You can upload your photos onto the frame by just swiping your finger across your iPhone. Plus, the 10.4-inch frame is gorgeous; $500, available in February.
    Last year at one of my daughter’s swim meets I decided to finally put my camera to use and record one of her races. It was neck and neck the whole way; she ended up wining by fractions of a second. I ended up getting a great shot of the floor, the ceiling—basically everything but her—because with all the excitement I couldn’t keep my eyes behind the camera.

    Solution: Looxcie wearable video camera with LooxcieLive. Clipped around your ear, you can record video without having to grapple with a camera, plus, with the addition of LooxcieLive, you can stream the video via Wi-Fi to your friends and family as the action unfolds. Around $200.
    My home office is my shrine. I don’t like people wandering in it; much less using my computer. But, as it’s the only PC with a built-in camera, my Facebook-addicted daughter can’t help but sneak in to video chat with her friends—way too often. I don’t mind the chatting part; just can stand people tinkering with my computer.

    Solution: ūmi telepresence system from Cisco. Connected to your TV and home network, the system lets you videoconference from the comfort of your living room—no PC necessary. The use of an HD camera (paired with and HDTV) ensures that the images are crisp and clear. Around $600.

  • Wi-Ex xBoost SOHO YX545 Review- The Cell Phone Junkie

    February 7, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    We’ve done reviews on various Wi-Ex products over the past few years, and have been very pleased with the results in most of our testing.  The zBoost Metro allowed us to improve our range in an area where we couldn’t permanently run a dedicated antenna outside, and the zBoost YX510 let me make phone calls within my office for the first time on AT&T.  Now, Wi-Ex has continued on the success of it’s 500 series with the YX545, or SOHO, dual band repeater kit.  The SOHO is for consumers, extending the range of  devices operating on 800 and 1900 MHz frequency bands.  The YX545 SOHO is available for $399 from Wi-Ex. The products used in this review were provided by Wi-Ex.

    In the Box

    • zBoost SOHO Base Unit
    • Base Unit Antenna
    • Signal Antenna
    • Coax Cable
    • Power Supply
    • Signal Antenna Mounting Hardware


    PCS Band

    • Frequency  Uplink: 1850 to 1910 MHz, Downlink: 1930 to 1990 MHz
    • System Gain 60dB
    • PCS band supported A, D, B, E, F, C
    • Networks CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, EVDO, 1xRTT, UMTS, HSPA, 3G

    Cellular band

    • Frequency  Uplink: 824 to 849 MHz
    • Downlink: 869 to 894 MHz
    • System Gain 60dB
    • Cell band supported A, B, A’, B’
    • Networks CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, EVDO, 1xRTT, UMTS, HSPA, 3G


    • Power Consumption – Power Supply Current 3W standby; 7W max signal – 5.0VDC, 2.0A Max
    • Wall Supply Input ; Voltage 100-240VAC, 50-60 Hz
    • Base Unit Size and Weight 5” x 7” x 1.25” – 9 oz.
    • Operating Conditions Indoor Use Only (40° – 105° F)

    About the zBoost SOHO

    • Increases indoor signal coverage-up to 3000 sq ft
    • Supports multiple users simultaneously
    • Compatible with all U.S. carriers and mobile devices using 800 & 1900 MHz (except Nextel/iDEN or 4G, 2100MHz phones)
    • Increases voice and data transmission
    • Decreases dropped or missed calls
    • Easy to set up – comes complete with everything you need
    • No cradle or connections to your phone
    • Extends phone battery life (uses less power when signal is stronger)
    • Protects the carrier network using patented technology


    Similar to the YX510, the SOHO has 2 antennas that need to be installed, the signal antenna, and the base unit antenna.  Follow the setup instructions before permanently installing your antennas, and make sure that you can place calls near the window or wherever you plan to place the Signal Antenna. The base unit will only amplify signal that it receives at the signal antenna.  Using your cell phone, place a call near near the location you plan to install that signal antenna, to verify there is enough to be amplified.  I ran my cables over a drop ceiling and outside my office through an existing conduit hole.  This provided for an easy installation that is out of the way.

    First, mount the Signal Antenna in an attic or outside where you’ve determined you’ve got solid signal.  Use the mounting hardware to fasten the antenna securely, keeping it away from metal as much as possible.  A few tips: higher on a wall or outside window is usually better, use the attachments in order to create different viewing angles, and the signal antenna must be installed vertically with the coax coming out from the bottom of the antenna.  I chose to mount mine behind an exterior wall covered with EFIS.  The Styrofoam construction allowed for great signal to be pulled in, with the sight of the antenna.

    Then, connect the Base Unit Antenna and coax to the Base Unit and place it where you need signal. For the widest possible signal area, it is recommended that you position the Base Unit near the middle of a room or mount it on an interior wall. This Base Unit uses an omni-directional antenna that delivers signal in a circular pattern around the antenna. The zBoost SOHO does require vertical separation; the Signal Antenna and Base Unit Antenna should have at least 15 feet of  separation. Increasing separation of the 2 antennas will optimize the performance, and up to 40 feet horizontally will provide for optimal performance.  Keep the base unit at least 2 feet away from other cords or metal objects, including other wireless devices such as routers.

    Once everything is connected, plug in the power supply, and wait up to 60 seconds for the units to start broadcasting the signal.  Use the LED indicator and the chart below to ensure your unit is functioning properly.

    Use and Results

    The SOHO is rated to cover up to 3000 sq. feet in open areas based on signal level, placement of the antennas and building construction.  My tests yielded about a third, giving me reliable coverage throughout approximately 1200  square feet of office space with metal stud walls, and a base antenna mounted underneath a desk to give the necessary vertical separation.  Using the Verizon Blackberry Curve 8530, Sprint Blackberry Bold 9650 and the AT&T iPhone 4, signal increases when using the SOHO are noticeable, providing a 15-20dBm increase, and negating the need to be right on top of the antenna to make it useful.  Working in an area that has constantly been a struggle for me with AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, the SOHO reliably allows me to make and receive phone calls, as well as use the data connection on 1900mhz devices. The unit also enhances the 850mhz band, but this difference was less noticeable for me, as the Verizon service in my area is quite good.  Data speeds fluctuated a bit, but overall, were strong enough that each of the carriers consistently saw 1Mbps download, and 300-700 (depending on the carrier) upload.


    For $400, the zBoost SOHO Cell Phone Signal Booster from Wi-Ex is a great home or office solution for those who need a “boost”.  The SOHO works as advertised, and allows phones to be used in areas that have poor service more reliably.

  • Report: 90% of Americans own a computerized gadget

    February 4, 2011 - Leave a Comment



    (CNN) -- If it seems like nearly everyone you see these days, from kids to seniors, has some kind of tech gadget handy, it's not just your imagination.

    According to a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project, nearly 90% of Americans now own a cell phone, computer, MP3 player, game console, e-book reader or tablet computer.

    In Generations and Their Gadgets, Pew explores how age groups in the U.S. tend to use their tech devices. It defines six generations ranging from age 18 to 75-plus.

    A few highlights about how Americans of different ages use mobile devices:

    Cell phones

    Eighty-five percent of Americans currently own cell phones, making it the single most popular type of tech gadget. Slightly more Americans use their cell phones to take pictures (76%) than to send or receive text messages (72%) -- but across all age groups, those two non-voice call activities are the most popular.

    Among the 15% of Americans who do not own a cell phone, one-third live in a household with at least one working cell phone. So, overall, "90% of all adults (including 62% of those age 75 and older) live in a household with at least one working cell phone," the survey finds.

    Also, Pew notes that as of June, about a quarter of all U.S. households had gone mobile-only, ditching their traditional "landline" phone connections.

    This includes more than half of all adults ages 25 to 29, and it indicates how crucial it is to update the U.S. 911 emergency calling system to be more friendly to cell phones, as well as to accommodate more types of communication than voice calls.

    Even though more people are getting smartphones (30 percent of U.S. cell phone owners, by most estimates), only Americans ages 18 to 34 are especially likely to use their phones for several purposes: internet access, e-mail, games, getting or playing music, sending or receiving photos, recording video, etc.

    The only widely popular activities across all age groups are taking pictures and text messaging, which may explain why 70% of Americans still rely on non-smart "feature phones," which have fewer bells and whistles.

    MP3 players

    As tech gadgets go, MP3 players are relatively limited devices. So it's a bit surprising that the youngest and most tech-savvy age group Pew studied is by far the most likely to own an MP3 player.

    Three-quarters of Americans ages 18 to 34 own an MP3 player, but only 56% of the next oldest group (35 to 46) do.


    As of September, 5% of U.S. adults owned tablet computers such as the iPad or Galaxy Tab, up from 3% in May. (Apple's popular iPad hit U.S. stores in April.)

    With the launch of several Android-based iPad competitors, expect this kind of device to become much more popular in the next year. It'll be interesting to see whether tablet ownership starts to displace some ownership of laptop computers.


    Currently, 5% of Americans own e-reader devices such as the Kindle or Nook, but this vastly underestimates the total number of people who read e-books.

    Many people read e-books on their smartphones, tablets, and desktop or laptop computers. E-reader devices are most popular among Americans ages 47 to 56.

    I suspect that in the next year, tablets will shake up all kinds of patterns of mobile device ownership and use in the U.S.

    If tablet prices start to drop and more options for size and connectivity emerge (especially likely for Android models), it's possible that that many people who rely primarily on feature phones might choose to invest in a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet (a one-time expense) rather than upgrading to a full smartphone (with higher monthly bills and often unexpected charges).

    The opinions expressed in this story are solely those of Amy Gahran.

    See the whole article here.

  • MSNBC Today: Tech & Science - "Should I buy my kid a smart phone?"

    February 2, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    My 9-year-old daughter has been asking for a cell phone for three years. It will be a few more before she gets her wish, but each time she asks, I think about what type of device I would get for her. Would it be a regular phone, with calling and texting, or a smart phone? I'm going with a smart phone.

    With my daughter, one of the most important things a smart phone could do for her is to keep her organized. All smart phones come with a calendar. So she'd be able to schedule her longer-term homework assignments and after-school activities. I'd be able to send doctor's appointments and family activities to her phone and they'd appear on her calendar.

    Another feature that appeals to me as a parent is Google Maps, available on most smart phones. I know that she'll never get lost when a map is always in her "pocket." Plus, I can load a navigation app for use in the car when she gets her driver's license.

    A smart phone is also a homework helper. My daughter is already being given assignments that require her to research subjects on the Web. With a smart phone, maybe she'll actually get some of that work done on the bus ride home. And with Google search set to strict filtering, I know she won't be exposed to explicit text or images.

    On the entertainment front, a smart phone can replace a number of the devices she uses today. She already has an iPod, loaded with her music, movies and TVs shows. A smart phone can handle that plus give her access to streaming services like Netflix, for movies, and Slacker, for music.

    She also loves playing games on her Nintendo DSi — mostly games involving virtual pets and shopping. So I can see her easily moving her gaming to a smart phone. Hard-core junior gamers, though, will enjoy the newest Android phones hitting the market later this spring. With their dual-core processors, there will be plenty of power and the 4- to 4.5-inch displays are competitive with stand-alone, portable gaming systems.

    Then there are the e-book reading apps. As an avid book reader, my daughter is constantly complaining about running out of things to read. Not with a smart phone. I could send new titles to her phone whenever she's ready for more.

    Managing smart phone features
    With all of the functionality a smart phone has to offer comes the need to use it responsibly. For some kids, this won't be a problem, but others might benefit from the boundaries you can set with parental controls.

    For things like managing talk time, text messaging and call blocking, the carriers all have parental controls. For everything else, you'll have to rely on settings you choose on the phone.

    The best parental controls are found on the iPhone. That's because they're baked into the operating system. You can turn off access to Safari, YouTube, the camera, iTunes, installing and deleting apps, making in-app purchases, playing multi-player games and adding friends in Game Center. You can also restrict access to music, TVs shows, movies and apps based on ratings. Plus you can add an app like Safe Browser to filter content on the Web if you don't want to shut it off entirely.

    Android phones don't have any parental controls built into the operating system. There are apps out there though that do that, and they cover some areas that the iPhone doesn't. There's Android Parental Control (free), which restricts access to apps. AppNotifier (free) will let you know when your child loads apps onto the phone. SMS Filter ($1.35) looks for keywords in messages and blocks inappropriate content. And Picture Alert ($9.99) will send copies of any videos and pictures taken by the phone's camera.

    BlackBerry 6 and Windows Phone 7 operating systems are also devoid of parental controls and there's nothing out there except call- and text- blocking apps.

    There is also the data plan fee to consider when you're looking at smart phones. You'll be paying a minimum monthly fee of at least $15 on Verizon (150MB), $10 on T-Mobile (200MB) or $15 on AT&T (200MB) and $20 per month on Sprint (unlimited). But go over that limit and the fees can add up quickly.

    While parents have the ultimate say in what type of phone to get their children, the question of smart phone versus regular phone is rapidly becoming moot. Already 94 percent of teens  consider themselves advanced data users and their data use is skyrocketing, as they've become avid app users, according to a recent Nielsen study. Soon all phones will be smart phones by today's standards. And I think that's a good thing.

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