One evening, while on the topic of high speed internet, a friend of mine told me that he'd just upgraded his cable modem and was now getting even faster internet. Comcast, our local cable internet provider had recently upgraded the network in Colorado to DOCSIS 3.0. Among other things, DOCSIS 3.0 in Colorado means internet speeds - from the usual 4Mbps service, to insane 100Mbps+ speeds. If faster internet is available, you can bet I'm going to want it. (Note, I said want, not need).
I dropped by Best Buy and bought the same Motorola SURFboard SB6120 Rich had. It was $85 before tax, but frees me from the $5/mo cable modem rental fee. Over time, I expect this modem to pay for itself (and eventually save us a little cash).
Installation couldn't have been easier. Unplug the old modem, plug the new one in, and call Comcast (1-800-COMCAST) to activate it. All I had to do was tell them that I bought my own modem and they did the rest. At one point I joked with the agent (as the firmware was being updated) that "this is where you install that secret back door for the NSA, right?" and guess what she said? She said "Yes" then snickered a few seconds later. I wish I'd recorded that.
After that call (and agreeing to pay more per month of course), my speed tests went to a consistent 35Mbps down. I was able to achieve that consistently as well (I'll share how further down). A few days later, friends on the Boulder Comcast DOCSIS 3.0 network mentioned that their upgrades were achieving 50Mbps speeds. Again, if there's faster, I want it.
So again I called Comcast, and asked if the 50Mbps speeds were available in my area. The short answer was yes, but there was a problem: my modem. The current firmware for theMotorola SURFboard SB6120 has issues going over 35Mbps with Comcast. The support rep says, as he hears the deflation of my spirits, "Will you hold for a second? I need to make a call." I was in luck - the call he made was to a team that specializes in baking firmware - and the answer he got was "We can build something for the SB6120 that will work until it's released publicly."
Now I'm at an official 50Mbps. While connected directly to the modem in the basement, I tested out at a whopping 63Mbps. The extra 13Mbps is attributed to what's called "burst mode" on Comcast. It allows you to get incredibly fast (more than you pay for) speed for a short period of time, then as usage progresses you're dropped back to the speed you've paid for.
A series of tests later, I determined that my wireless router was now a speed trap. I wasn't getting anywhere near the speeds on the wired (or wireless) network that I was able to achieve while plugged directly in to the modem. After reading reviews, I decided to upgrade my wireless router to an Apple AirPort Extreme (Gigabit). That did the trick, and now everywhere in the house (wired or not) we get 50Mbps+ internet (all of our "phone jacks" are actually RJ45, and plugged in to a gigabit switch).
Here's where this post relates to it's title. I was able to achieve greater than 50Mbps in testing by doing things that would never happen in the real world. For example, downloading 15 HD trailers simultaneously from Yahoo! HD Trailers, downloading three 500MB software updates from Apple, and streaming a Netflix movie.
But who does that?
My question to you, dear reader, is what kinds of things are out there that can actually utilize a low latency 50Mbps internet connection at home? Have you encountered, or do you know of real world services (legal only please) that are capable of stressing this connection?
Motorola SURFboard eXtreme Broadband Cable Modem
Apple AirPort Extreme Wireless-N Wireless Base Station
Yahoo! HD Trailers
Yes, I'm a die-hard iPhone user. I'll try to sell it to anyone that even pretends to be interested in the device - some might even say I go overboard. I even stood in line (OK, camped out overnight) for both iPhones. I was second in line for the first, and third in line for the 3G at the Boulder, Colorado, Apple Store.
I find a lot of value in it and if people knew about the wonderful things it can do, everyone would want one. The app store is amazing, I've downloaded nearly 100 applications, and a lot of them are paid applications. The utility of these apps varies, but it is clear that Apple has set the bar for the industry. Not just in the iPhone's user interface, but in the App Store's purchasing process, and the overall iPhone experience. Each firmware release just makes things better and better.
As great as the iPhone is, it's missing a few features. A big one is copy and paste. I don't have a lot of use for it, but it sure stinks when I want it and it isn't there. The SMS alerts are modal and take over the screen. If you've ever been on a phone call and received an SMS you'll know what I mean. You have to acknowledge the SMS before you can end the call. You can only run one application at a time, and there are no background processes. If you get a new Tweet for example, you don't know until you open your Twitter application. If you get new messages in Facebook, you have to go to the Facebook app to find out. I'd love to see what developers could do if their apps were allowed to run processes in the background.
A term was coined shortly after the iPhone was introduced: "the iPhone Killer." As it has been loosely defined, it is any phone with a "touch" interface, or even more simply a touch screen. The device has to be internet connected and do lots of neat tricks like the iPhone. Several companies have tried to gain mind share with their offerings: Blackberry Storm, T-Mobile G1, Samsung Instinct, and host others. In my experience, these phones all feel rushed to market, as if they were conceived just after Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone. The T-Mobile G1 has gained a lot of attention by being completely open source - any developer can write applications for it, but it has (to date) failed to live up to its expectations.
At CES last week a new phone was introduced. As soon as I heard it was from Palm, Inc. I was quick to brush it off as another "iPhone Killer." A device that the company has put all of its heart and soul in to just be let down in sales and market adoption. The iPhone is the 600lb gorilla, after all. Palm, Inc. has lost everything it gained with the Palm OS, and has even been caught selling Windows Mobile instead. A has been company, looking for one final volley in the modern phone world.
And they knocked it out of the park. World, meet the Palm Pre. This is the first "iPhone Killer" that actually stands a chance at gaining a sustainable piece of the market. Apple might just be caught sweating about this one. Why? Because I (see above for why this is remarkable) want one. And I want it now.
This post isn't about the features and all of the things the Pre can do. For that I'll leave a link at the bottom to they introduction. This post is about me letting the world know that technology is evolving, and Apple is no longer the only player in the wicked smart phone market. Have a look at the video, and you'll be as amazed as I was. Pay particular attention the the charging mechanism and the sync process.
Here's the video: Palm Pre @CES. After you watch that, have a look at the coverage at Engadget. Read the user comments for extra credit: Palm Pre in-depth impressions, video, and huge hands-on gallery
Since the iPhone's release, it seems that everyone has an opinion on whether or not the features are worth the money, or how it will or won't impact the world. It has this, and doesn't have that, etc. Here are a couple of my observations.
First, I know 25 people with the iPhone - personally. I have never seen such adoption of any consumer electronics device. Say what you want about the feature set, but the numbers don't lie. The interesting part of this is that nearly all of them have (err, had) and iPod too.
If you doubt the draw of the iPhone, go to a local Apple store and watch not only which device draws attention, but notice the sheer volume of traffic in the store. People of all ages are there, from the dreamer in grade school, to the mature senior adult.
Second, I've noticed that iPhone users are less likely to use their computers after business hours. I noticed on Sunday, for example, that after my morning email/news checking, that I didn't open my laptop again until Monday morning coffee. If you know me, you know that this is very, very unusual.
It took a while for that to sink in, but once it did, I pinged a few other owners. The story is the same. The experience with the phone is so delightful, that it is actually enabling people to get away from their computers.
I bet Apple didn't anticipate that one.
The world has been abuzz about the iPhone, since even before Apple acknowledged its existence. Why? Who cares? My mom does... and so will you.
First, let's take a look at the state of mobile phones. For better or worse, mobile phones have become far more than simple phones. Text messaging, email, browsers, and custom apps have infiltrated them. A decade ago, a phone was a phone. Today, a phone is the micro computer.
As mobile carriers have rushed to add features, they have forced the desktop computer's generic UI (menuing , windows, etc.) into their tiny screens.
So what makes the iPhone any different? Apple started from scratch, ignoring everything that is commonplace in today's smart phones. Ok, so they didn't start from scratch, they started with the iPod interface, and appropriately appropriated some fantastic desktop features. Add to that the touch screen, iPod features, and Mac OS X.
What does this mean to you? It means that when you pick up an iPhone, you'll know how to use it, instead of spending days learning how to use it. How many of you have encountered people, not computer people, that are waiting for their iPhones?
This is a great start, though I feel that the impact of this phone has yet to be felt. Sure they'll sell million and millions of them. But far more important to the consumer mobile phone market is that this phone will be the one by which all that follow it are judged. Put another way, the features that make the iPhone will trickle in to other phones across all budgets.
Obviously many of the features in the iPhone are not unique. But the way they're implemented and the thought that went in to them is unmistakable.
On top of the great UI, Apple and AT&T have changed the mobile phone landscape in another way. The plans. Today I pay $40/mo for unlimited data on my Cingular 8125. That is $40/mo just for the data service. In addition to that, I pay another $60 for voice and messaging. As of Friday, the cheap plan with unlimited data is $59/mo, and that includes rollover minutes.
Two things change on Friday that are being heavily overlooked.
1. All mobile phones will become easier to use because they'll all use the iPhone as a base line.
2. All mobile phone plans will be less expensive ... they have to be to keep the world from switching to AT&T.
Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.
iPhone Guided Tour
iPhone Data plans
What do you think? How will this phone impact the industry as a whole?
Today Apple released a software update for the AppleTV that allows you to watch YouTube content on your TV. When Apple announced this, I thought it was a non-story. Then I saw the screenshots and the impact hit me.
I have to be forthright... I don't spend much time with YouTube on my computer(s). When I'm in front of my laptop, for instance, I'm usually working. If not, I'm tuned in to my RSS feeds. When I'm in front of the TV though, I'm obviously looking to kill time.
Typically "killing time" involves video podcasts, or our Thursday evening TV night (Survivor, Smallville, Grey's, Heroes), but now I have some other short-attention content to watch.
Way to go Apple/Google, this will be interesting. Remember when the networks controlled what was on your TV? Those days are gone.
More at AppleInsider
At first glance, ustream.tv looks like another way to stream a live webcam. Look a little deeper and you'll see that they're changing the live broadcast model.
I was introduced to ustream.tv while listening to a podcast called net@nite with Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur. They mentioned a live video feed, and that feed was done with ustream.
At the time (April 07) ustream.tv wasn't able to keep up with the traffic demands that a Leo Laporte required. Now they've grown and scaled to handle that and more.
As an example, former TechTV show host Chris Pirillo has a live (sponsored) feed from his office. Though the largest number of simultaneous viewers I've personally seen there is tiny (70), they claim they're ready for Leo.
The fact that this company exists was inevitable, but that they started the company in February of this year is nothing short of amazing. Talk about a zero to 60 entrepreneurial experience.
With the new version about ship, I'm positive they're going to play a major role in redefining what live broadcasting is and who has access to it. Their features are geared toward monetizing live video streams and the subsequent archives. Incredibly cool.
Watch for ustream.tv.