iPhone 6 Ups the Ante with Faster Mobile Speed & Screen Resolution

Apple’s recent announcement of the iPhone 6 comes at a time where Android is trying to cement its place as the dominant mobile operating system. Both iPhone 6 models feature larger screens to combat popular Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note and LG G3. Add in new features and functionality from iOS 8 — the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system — and rumors about the iPhone’s demise now seem greatly exaggerated.

Let’s take a closer look at the iPhone 6’s specifications and feature set.

Larger Screens Highlight the iPhone 6Apple iPhone 6

Both iPhone 6 models sport noticeably larger touchscreens. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch screen, while its bigger brother — the iPhone 6 Plus — comes in at the 5.5-inch mark. The iPhone 6 Plus is capable of a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is more than enough screen real estate to run a mobile speed test.

The new touchscreens are also thinner which allows both iPhone 6 models to be Apple’s most slender smartphones to date. The Retina HD display and iPhone camera are utilized nicely by the improved video and photo capabilities within iOS 8. Other enhancements include a wider viewing angle, and landscape orientation on the iPhone 6 Plus. The screen on the larger iPhone 6 simply rivals anything out there in the smartphone world.

More RAM Equals More Efficient Processing

Like the iPhone 5, the iPhone 6 models also contain 1 GB of RAM; previous iPhone models used anywhere from 128 to 512 MB. This added RAM makes the internal processing chip run more efficiently, giving the user a quicker and smoother smartphone experience. And faster mobile speed test results as well.

Speaking of which, the smartphone’s main dual core A8 microprocessor is clocked at 1.3 GHz, with the specialized M8 motion co-processor handling the iPhone 6’s array of sensors, including the accelerometer, compass, and more. Of course, there is a GPU paired with the enhanced Retina HD display on both iPhone 6 models.

A Look at iPhone 6 Prices

Retail prices for the iPhone and iPhone 6 Plus start at $199 and $299 respectively. Of course, deals from a variety of mobile carriers are available, so the wise consumer does their research before making a final decision.

With the iPhone 6 firing the latest salvo in this smartphone war between Apple, Samsung, LG, and Google, expect the heated competition to drive innovation from all companies in the mobile technology sector. Ultimately, the mobile phone user stands to benefit as new features and enhanced specifications continue to enthrall.

Even Terminal Emulation Can’t Escape the BYOD Trend

Mobility is growing at light speed. Through cloud adoption and the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) trend, there is growing pressure, inside and outside organizations across all industries, to pursue the path of mobility.

To achieve mobility in a way that streamlines access to IT resources most efficiently and cost-effectively, organizations should consider adapting their IT infrastructures for secure, clientless & device-agnostic access. This would give users the flexibility and freedom to work from anywhere on any device.  Moreover, it would provide the simplest means to access Windows & Web-based applications, physical & virtual desktops, as well as legacy data, hosted on a wide range of platforms.

HTML5, Browser-based Terminal Emulation

As more products become ‘Browser enabled,’ the demand within large corporations to shift more technologies, including terminal emulation, into the browser enabled world of software is growing. Now, with the advent of HTML5 and other technologies, it is possible to provide clientless remote desktop access to ‘instantly webified’ legacy applications, desktops, data hosted on Terminal Servers, VDI, and Cloud environments.

For software developers, HTML5 turns a key challenge into a great opportunity by making it possible to easily adapt terminal emulation software for mobile devices. Traditionally this has only been designed for fat clients (desktops and laptops) and thin clients.  HTML5-based access technology extends the power of terminal emulation to virtually any user device running a modern browser. Without having to install anything on the device, users are offered greater ease and the ultimate in ubiquitous access.

One Clientless Solution Providing Access to Any Resource on Any Platform, From Any Device

With all its benefits it becomes obvious that a clientless, HTML5 Remote Access solution is the future of remote access. It fulfills a vision of mobile computing that in effect rids us of dependence on the traditional computer and the desk.  It also simplifying the IT infrastructure side of things. Data and applications that previously resided on PCs are currently being shifted to servers and the Cloud, accessible anywhere, any time, from any device.

Ericom is a leading ISV that takes advantage of HTML5, Web and other technologies.  Ericom provides access to Windows applications and desktops, as well as hosted terminal emulation software for System z mainframes (TN3270), IBM midranges (TN5250) and other legacy systems. It works on any HTML5-supported browser on any device, including PC, Mac, Linux, as well as iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry and locked down devices without having to download, install or configure anything. Got Windows applications and terminal emulation needs?  Check out Ericom.

About the Writer

Barbara Claman works at Ericom Software, a leading global provider of Access, Virtualization and RDP Acceleration solutions.

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CenturyLink is an Internet Service Provider, a Phone Company, and More

A full service communications company that first garnered its reputation as a phone company under a variety of monikers, CenturyLink is also an ISP with a host of subscription options for anyone looking for Internet access — provided you are in their service area. The company also offers IPTV service in a small number of U.S. markets, and of course, service bundles are possible depending on your location.

The company is headquartered in Louisiana, and a 2010 merger with Qwest greatly expanded the combined organization’s service area, which now includes 37 states. Lately, the firm has been acquiring companies involved in Cloud Computing. With those strategic moves in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Internet service offerings provided by CenturyLink.

Internet Service can be bundled with Home Phone

CenturyLink is more than an ISP. Recent expansions include Gigabit Fiber to the premises and Cloud-based acquisitions

CenturyLink is more than an ISP. Recent expansions include Gigabit Fiber to the premises and Cloud-based acquisitions.

CenturyLink’s standard DSL Internet service normally costs $39.95 per month for new customers. That price is only guaranteed for the first year of service. Tacking on home phone service in a bundle lowers the monthly Internet service price to $19.95.

The Internet speed offered with the CenturyLink service features rates up to 10 Mbps. In certain areas where they’ve built up their network infrastructure, speeds up to 40 Mbps are available. As always, make sure you perform a regular speed test to verify you are getting all the bandwidth you pay for — especially when springing for the higher 40 Mbps rate.

CenturyLink expanding their Fiber Network

The company is gradually rolling out a fiber to premises network to offer enhanced speeds with its Internet service. The service is available in Omaha and Las Vegas, featuring speeds that rival Google Fiber’s 1 Gbps. CenturyLink also provides their gigabit service to multi-tenant business locations in Salt Lake City.

CenturyLink is able to offer its 40 Mbps rate in locations where they’ve installed fiber to the node instead of each individual location. At that point, the company’s normal DSL service handles the connection between the node and each subscriber.

Businesses in locations where CenturyLink provides gigabit service need to explore leveraging this option for their Internet service needs. Considering their recent Cloud-based acquisitions, CenturyLink might be a worthy communications partner for the SMB. Individual consumers should check to see if the company offers service in their area before considering Internet service or even a full bundle of communications products.

MacBook Pro Features: Apple’s Top of the Line Laptop

Mac aficionados or computer users who want an alternative to Microsoft and Windows need to check out Apple’s MacBook Pro features. While generally more expensive than their Windows-powered counterparts (and even more expensive than Google’s Chromebooks), the MacBook Pro features high-end computing power and the sleek design typical of products out of Cupertino.

Apple's MacBook Pro Features and Pricing

Apple’s MacBook Pro Features and Pricing

For users already invested in Apple’s proverbial walled garden — owners of iPods, iPads, Apple TVs, and the like — buying a MacBook Pro laptop makes managing content on those other devices a bit easier. Apple users can also easily manage broadband performance on all devices by selecting a single non-Flash based, HTML5 test.

A Closer Look at MacBook Pro Features

Let’s take a closer look at the MacBook Pro line and the differences between the models — typically screen size, RAM, the hard drive, and the availability of a Retina display. Let’s start with the MacBook Pro features:

MacBook Pro with Retina Display Features

  • 15.4-inch Retina Display (2880 x 1800 Resolution)
  • Up to 2.6GHz Intel Quad-Core i7 Processor
  • Up to 16GB On-board RAM
  • Up to 1TB Solid State Storage
  • Two Each USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2 Ports
  • HDMI Port
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • HD Camera
  • Powered by OSX Mavericks
  • Priced from $1999

There are a lot of “up to” phrases in the feature descriptions above. A fully appointed MacBook Pro with the 1TB solid state storage and 2.6GHz processor options comes in at a $3,299.00 price tag, so this is definitely a high-end laptop computer. Expect to pay about half as much for a Windows laptop with similar hardware specs.

A lower-end MacBook Pro without the Retina display costs $1,199.00 with a dual core Intel i5 chip, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB non-solid state drive. Most of the MacBook Pro line comes with the Retina display, with prices ranging from $1,299.00 to the quoted $3,299.00. Obviously, processor power, on-board RAM, and hard drive storage are the prime differentiators when it comes to the final price.

Installed Software Includes iMovie, Garage Band, and more

Each MacBook Pro comes with a host of pre-installed software: including iMovie, Garage Band, iPhoto, and more. OSX Mavericks is a robust operating system that is easy to use and boots significantly faster than Windows.

So if you are in the market for a high-end laptop, the MacBook Pro with Retina display makes for a compelling option. Performing a regular Internet speed test never felt so good!

AT&T and DirecTV Merger creates Media and Internet Giant

The recent news of AT&T’s planned acquisition of the satellite TV company, DirecTV, remains the talk of the tech world. What will this merger mean for the average homeowner hoping for fast Internet access and the ability to stream movies and other content without any issues? Are monthly subscriber fees expected to increase?

Let’s take a closer look at this merger and what it means for the future of the Internet and television access in the U.S.

AT&T buys DirecTV for $49 Billion — a Closer LookAT&T and DirecTV Merger to create Internet and Media Giant

Coming hot on the heels of the merger announcement between Comcast and Time Warner, this potential marriage between AT&T and DirecTV — assuming both mergers meet with regulatory approval — creates two industry giants poised to dominate the increasingly-paired world of ISPs and media content providers. AT&T is expected to pay $48.5 billion for DirecTV, in addition to assuming the latter company’s debt — tacking on another $19 billion to the deal.

The move creates the second largest collection of TV subscribers in the United States, with the number one spot belonging to the combined Comcast/Time Warner. Comcast and AT&T would control over half of the American television market.

Regulatory approval (expected within 12 months) is a safe assumption, as both companies probably wouldn’t have gone public with the news of the merger without a strong possibility of approval. AT&T does have an out, however, if the NFL doesn’t renew DirecTV’s status as the exclusive provider of the Sunday Ticket out of market football package.

AT&T and DirecTV Merger — the Impact on Consumers

The merger between AT&T and DirecTV is really a marriage of convenience. AT&T’s U-verse television service enjoys only a fraction of the subscribers as DirecTV, while the satellite TV company is unable to efficiently deliver reliable high-speed Internet access.

Most important to consumers is how the AT&T and DirecTV merger will affect prices, and if they need to run a speed test to ensure they still are getting their expected bandwidth. AT&T has promised to continue offering DirecTV as a separate service for at least three years, with prices slated to remain essentially flat over that period.

AT&T expects to roll its cost savings (estimated to be $1.6 billion annually) into an expansion of their high-speed Internet network to 15 million additional homes, primarily in rural regions. Consumers can also take advantage of new service bundles from the combined company with discounted prices.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that subscribers need to take an active role in ensuring their ISP and television providers are keeping up their end of the bargain — no matter how big they are. Make sure the quality of your television service remains pristine, and run regular speed tests to ensure you’re getting the bandwidth you pay for.

Amazon streaming device Fire TV and what you need to know

If you watch routine cable television, then you’ve seen the Gary Busey ad. “Hello pants.” That’s Gary talking to his pants. But, then he starts talking to his remote, and with the voice search finds all of his famous roles in the pantheon of his movie history (e.g. Point Break, Big Wednesday to name a few).

Amazon-Streaming-Player-Fire-TV

This is the new Amazon streaming device: Fire TV.

What you need to know about the Amazon streaming device

Well, it costs $99. That’s a good start. And it’s very similar to a Roku 3 or Apple TV device (not the Chromecast which is a dongle, and only $35). The set-top box connects to your TV, uses your home Wi-Fi and is similar in appearance to a Roku 3, or Apple TV, but is thinner and larger. It also includes a Bluetooth remote, with voice search, like in the Gary Busey advertisement.

The Fire TV addresses three concerns from the streaming video device community: speed, search and accessibility. The Fire TV is “very” fast, with a quad-core processor inside and lots of RAM (1.7 GHZ Quad-Core Processor, 2 GB RAM, 8 GB storage). The interface works very quickly, with little lag time.

And, the Fire TV has plenty of apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant (although it is missing HBO GO for now, but that should change very soon). If you’re familiar with the Kindle Fire TV tablet, it shares a similar interface, plus the Fire TV loads content much faster than Apple TV and Roku 3 (a big difference which makes the Fire TV the fastest streaming device available).

But, the big difference? Games. You can buy another controller and play online games from the Amazon library. Load times can be long, but the platform is robust enough that games should get better over time. Here’s what’s missing. No shopping!

The verdict on the Amazon Fire TV

The Amazon Fire TV is a first edition video media streamer and probably the best streaming device for the price. It is best when paired with Amazon’s own content and services. If you love Netflix and Hulu, there’s not much difference between the Apple TV or Roku 3, but if you love Amazon Instant video, this is the player for you. This is not the game changer, cord-cutter device it could’ve been. This is a faster streaming player with games (hint: try a $35 Chromecast and wait for the new improved Apple TV). Happy streaming!

Another Three Netflix Movies That Will Change Your Life

Here are more Netflix movies that have the ability to change your life or at least make a great night of streaming. Happy streaming!

blackfiish

Blackfish

At some point in your early life, you have that life changing moment where you either see a larger-than-life mammal at a zoo, aquarium or SeaWorld (or maybe more impressively in the wild) and realize how small you really are; a moment of respect—hopefully—between progeny and beast, and an admiration of nature that will continue to grow and flourish.

Blackfish is about Tilikum, an aggressive male killer whale (albeit understandably aggressive), and the multiple incidents, including three deaths that prompted the ongoing court case between SeaWorld and OSHA. You have to give director Gabriela Cowperthwaite a lot of props for making an incredibly convincing, moving (and quite disturbing) professional-looking movie about something nobody really had any clue about. Like “whistleblowers,” the movie follows trainers describing themselves, the deceased trainers, and Tilikum. However you feel about SeaWorld, after watching ex-SeaWorld employee, after employee, after employee—and again, and again—come out against their old job, you start to question SeaWorld immediately. Why would so many ex-trainers come out against SeaWorld? The film might be enlightening for some, or just maybe “preaching to the choir.” But, we really don’t hear much from SeaWorld. Could they be “that” clueless, or even cruel? Really? Well, maybe after reading this it is quite clear that they are. This film will make you very uneasy, but it will change your life—as it changed SeaWorld’s. It is a perfect combination of solid filmmaking and subject matter, whatever your opinions. What is crystal-clear though, is that the “make-whales-do-tricks” industry, like most industries where big money is involved, such as big tobacco or American football, the bottom line is all that matters. Everything else, including humanity, takes a back-seat.

The-Act-of-Killing-Movie-Poster-Large

The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing is about Anwar Congo (the nicest killer you might ever meet) and his buddies who dance through musical numbers, act tough in film noir gangster scenes and then play cowboys, and yes, drag-queens (whoa!). When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends, who were real gangsters who ran movie theaters, were promoted to death squad leaders. One million alleged communists and ethnic Chinese were massacred. After the death squads, came an ultra right-wing paramilitary group who, still today, boast about corruption, election rigging, extortion, rape and murder. Since all of Anwar’s buddies are film aficionados, they leap at the opportunity to play all of their favorite characters in the movies, and this is where director Joshua Oppenheimer exposes a regime that has never faced accountability for any of its crimes (you literally wonder when they will finally get it, and go after the film crew, and it makes for an uneasy tension throughout the documentary). As light and bizarre as this films starts out, it gets dark as more crimes are exposed, with Anwar eventually having a mental breakdown because of it. Joshua Oppenheimer has made one of the most important, unique meditations on violence, and the men behind the executioner’s mask, you will ever see. In fact, this could be the best film of 2013, it is that incredibly unique. This is super gutsy documentary filmmaking.

taxi_driver_ver4

Taxi Driver

If you haven’t seen Taxi Driver, well, now is your opportunity. Wait a minute, you’ve never seen Taxi Driver? It’s almost better that you don’t know much, just dive right in, and get ready for a New York City that is long gone. This is the New York City of pimps, pushers, hookers, drug dealers, X-rated porn theaters, rapists, racists and overall sleaze. This is 70s New York City. Look at the poster, above; an iconic moment in pop culture. And that’s the hero! Travis Bickle, an ex-Marine and Vietnam vet, who drives a taxi in the Big Apple. “You talkin to me, “ is the quote, you’ve never heard in context. Robert De Niro has a mohawk for crying-out-loud, how could you not be the least bit interested?

Taxi Driver is one of the greatest movies ever made. Like The Godfather and The Deer Hunter, this is one of Hollywood’s crowning achievements. It’s their gutsiest movie they were ever involved in. Find a night to watch this, with your friends and family (parents put the kids to bed) and get ready for a movie that will change you forever. Oh yeah, Martin Scorsese directed it, you know the guy who made Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street. Taxi Driver is his masterpiece (although arguments could be made that Raging Bull is better, Taxi Driver is why Quentin Tarantino makes movies, a fact).

Five Ways to Save on Your Internet Bill

In case you didn’t already know, the Internet is an amazing money-saving tool. Who among us has not used a quick Google search to compare prices or make sure that we can’t find a better deal elsewhere before we make a purchase?

internet-bill

Thus, it is only fitting that we use these same principles before overpaying on our Internet bill. How can you save on this common and, in most cases, very necessary expense? Here are five simple ways.

1. Lower Your Internet Speed.

If you have no need for downloading large video files and are a casual user who only uses the Internet for e-mail, browsing, or paying bills, perhaps you can opt for a basic broadband service. If you are not sure how fast your Internet is, you can run a free Internet speed test.

2. Purchase Your Own Equipment Instead of Renting It From the Provider.

You can save a significant amount of money on your Internet bill each month by simply opting to buy your own router or modem instead of paying a monthly fee to rent one from your service provider. Most providers charge anywhere from $5 to $10 per month, which can add up over time. Unless you are planning to move and switch providers anytime soon, buying your own equipment will eventually pay for itself. Check with your provider and see if they will allow you to use your own.

3. Do It Yourself; Avoid Installation Fees.

You don’t have to be a computer whiz to set up your own equipment. Most modems and routers come with very clear and simple instructions (with pictures!). If you are still wary, ask a knowledgeable friend or neighbor. Taking care of the installation yourself will not only save you money, but it will enable you to familiarize yourself with the equipment so that if any technical issues arise, you might be able to take care of them yourself.

4. Bundle It With Other Services You Already Use.

Although you want to be careful about paying for a bundle of services you don’t use in the first place, if you are already purchasing television, mobile phone, and/or security services, you might be able to get a package deal with one company for a cheaper price than what you are paying separately. Check with your providers and see if there is a way to bundle your services for a better price.

5. Call and Negotiate a Better Deal.

And finally, there is no harm in calling and asking for a lower price. Don’t be afraid to remind them of your years with them and your faithful payments. The customer is always right, so many will work with you if it means keeping you as a loyal customer. You might be surprised at what a simple, “What can you do for me?” might get you.

Photo credit: Flickr/401(K) 2013

FCC Invests in the Future of Internet in Schools

Ninety-nine percent. That’s the percentage of US students the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to provide with high-speed Internet in schools in the next five years. To achieve the goal, the agency is making a $2 billion “down payment” over the next two years. But is that enough?

internet-in-schools

Evolving E-Rate

According to a press release from the FCC, the $2 billion investment for Internet in schools should give 20 million students true high-speed access. In addition, the FCC will also be working to update the existing E-Rate program, which began in 1996 and provides $2.4 billion annually to keep libraries and schools online. Thanks to E-Rate, schools across America now have access to basic Internet, but many are hampered by slow connections or poor infrastructure. Revamping E-Rate should help bring these institutions up to 21st-century connectivity levels, while streamlining the application and approval process for schools should help them lower overall Internet costs. The FCC also has plans to increase oversight and transparency to ensure every dollar earmarked for a school actually arrives there. There’s no word on exactly how fast connections will be once the $2 billion is spent, but this doubling of existing broadband support should ideally bring many schools up to par with basic home networks.

Private Assistance

Some private companies are also helping students connect. As reported recently by CNET, Internet provider Comcast has announced an indefinite extension to its “Internet Essentials” program, which offers subsidized broadband access for low-income families. In addition, the company is handing out grants to 20 communities that have made efforts to “close the digital divide” or improve existing services. These grants will go toward creating Internet Essential Learning Zones, which connect nonprofit organizations, libraries, and community computer centers. The program is already available in 39 states and more than 4,000 school districts. In addition, Comcast has plans to roll out Internet Essentials in service areas now covered by Time Warner Cable, provided federal regulators approve its buyout of the company.

Closing the “digital divide” was something first proposed by the FCC in their National Broadband Plan and aims to bring high-speed access to all Americans. The plan was published in 2010; at that time, 93 million users were without broadband access. The FCC’s new $2 billion Internet in schools investment helps reduce that number and, along with support from providers like Comcast, puts the federal agency within reach of its five-year, 99 percent objective.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sprint LTE Adds 4G to 70 New Cities — Is That Enough?

Sprint LTE users stand to benefit from the carrier adding 70 new cities to its 4G network, but the company is still trying to catch up to Verizon Wireless and AT&T when it comes to high-speed mobile Internet coverage. In fact, Sprint comes in fourth place when comparing network speeds between the four leading US carriers. Company chairman Masayoshi Son vows to successfully compete with the two dominant mobile service providers, which should ultimately benefit Sprint users through a better network infrastructure and faster speeds.

sprint-lte

Sprint Hoping to Buy T-Mobile to Compete With Verizon and AT&T

In the mobile Internet business, economies of scale reign supreme, so Son feels his best chance at competing with Verizon Wireless and AT&T is by acquiring leading American mobile telephone company T-Mobile. Son performed a similar feat in his native Japan when his company SoftBank purchased the Japanese mobile giant Vodafone Japan.

Sure, adding 70 new cities to the Sprint LTE network helps things somewhat, but Son feels the merged company would have the scale necessary to significantly improve Sprint’s network. In an interview with Re/code, Son expressed his feelings that the US Internet speeds are terrible in general — not just on mobile networks — and his potentially merged company can improve things.

Buttering Up US Federal Regulators

Sprint and T-Mobile haven’t agreed to merge in the first place, but Son is on a mission in the US to apparently convince regulators in the Obama administration that a potential merger between the two companies would be good for the American Internet industry. Recent news from Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile, appears to hint that Son’s push for the merger hasn’t been totally successful in convincing regulators and that any merger is off for the time being.

That leaves Sprint users hoping the company continues to make incremental improvements to their 4G LTE network. These additional speed improvements should allow more customers to enjoy the benefits of a 4G wireless network.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons