Saturday, September 25, 2010

Will Smart Phones Kill the Dedicated Device Market?

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Vol. 10, #37 - Sep 21, 2010 - Issue #447

 Will Smart Phones Kill the Dedicated Device Market?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Will Smart Phones Kill the Dedicated Device Market?
    • Is there any need for a Zune if the Windows phone has the same capabilities?
    • Quotes of the Week:
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • A Safer Way to Surf the Web
    • IE 9 beta launches - but not for XP
    • Need more speed with XP SP3?
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to play DVDs from other regions
  5. XP Security News

    • XP Question Corner
      • How do I set up the Remote Desktop
    • XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
      • Enable or Disable DEP for Office Applications
    • Fav Links

      • Product of the Week
        • New Release: Driver Genius Professional 10 - Start Your Free Driver Scan Now And Find Out If You Have Outdated Drivers.

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       Editor's Corner

      Will Smart Phones Kill the Dedicated Device Market?

      I'm on the road this week, traveling to Connecticut for a "Chinfest," which is a gathering of owners of Japanese Chin dogs (and their pups). It's my nine month old doggie's first time to fly (in the cabin under the seat) and it's my first purely fun (non-business) trip in years. As I was packing for the trip, going over my checklist of all my electronics and their cables and chargers to make sure I didn't forget anything important, I started thinking about how, in a pinch, my phone would do most of the things those other devices do. So why was I bringing all the other stuff along?

      Smart phones are getting smarter and smarter, and taking on more of the tasks that were once performed by dedicated devices. Many of the new phones can function as MP3 players, GPS devices, alarm clocks, cameras and a whole lot more. This makes it easy to travel light, but will we ever get to the point where your phone is all you need? Will this development mean the demise of some of the categories of dedicated devices?

      There had been speculation that Microsoft would kill their dedicated Zune players when Windows 7 Phone came out, but this month we've been hearing rumors that a new Zune HD is planned for 2011, and that it will feature an interface that's more like the new phone interface.

      Another source reports that Microsoft will probably share its future plans for the Zune in October when WP7 phone launches.

      Is there any need for a Zune if the Windows phone has the same capabilities?

      Will dedicated MP3 players die out altogether? Before that can happen, I think several things are necessary. First, the phones have to be as easy to use as the dedicated players. Many folks I know have phones that will play music, but they still use MP3 players because they don't find it as easy to get the tunes onto the device, or to find them and create playlists and play them.

      Another important factor is battery life. All that "smartness" eats up a lot of power, and the typical dedicated music player will go hours longer on a charge than most phones will. You'll also need to have as much storage capacity on the phone for MP3s as you have on your player. Some folks continue to carry both devices because they don't want to use up their limited storage for music and videos; they prefer to save it for their apps and other data. Of course, if your phone can use SD cards, that's less of an issue - but the problem is that with many of the new phones, inserting a card has been made more of a hassle because you have to remove the back to do it.

      Okay, then what about the GPS? With turn-by-turn GPS available on some smart phones (and with some even having car mounts that make it easier to use that feature), can we stop worrying about buying a separate GPS? Maybe - depending on your phone model. One problem is that some cell phone carriers require that you pay a monthly fee for GPS service (Verizon charges $9.99/month for its VZ Navigator). And even if there's no extra cost, most of the phones have smaller screens than a dedicated GPS, so it's not as easy to see the maps. And putting your phone into GPS mode and mounting it on your dash whenever you get into the car is less trouble than just hitting the "on" button of your dedicated, semi-permanently mounted GPS. On the other hand, an advantage of using the phone as GPS is that its maps can be automatically updated since it's connected to the network. That's a feature that will be appreciated by anyone who's ever tried to find an address in a brand new subdivision. (Some) dedicated GPS devices can be updated, too, but you may have to dismount them, take them into the house and plug them into a computer. So as far as convenience goes, this one might be a wash.

      I've noticed that quite a few young people don't wear watches these days. Instead, if they want to know what time it is, they take out their cell phones. I've worn a watch for decades and I feel a little naked without one. And even though I carry my phone with me almost everywhere, I find it a lot easier to look down at my wrist than to dig in my pocket or bag for it. Perhaps one day our phones will be worn on our wrists like the old Dick Tracy communicator devices. I do like not needing to pack a travel clock when I go somewhere that might not have an alarm clock (most hotels do these days, but if you're going to be staying at friend's house or camping out, you may need your own alarm).

      Then there's the camera. Not that long ago, phones with cameras were the exception, but now they're the rule. I use mine quite a bit. I absolutely love having a camera with me at all times. In the past, there were so many great pictures I missed because a wonderful photo opp came up when I was out and about without a camera. Now I at least get the shot. However, even though my phone has one of the better cell phone cameras, I'm often disappointed with the quality of the shots. It takes very decent pictures in good light, with still subjects. But too much motion leaves me with a blur, since I don't have a shutter speed adjustment. And although I can set it to ISO 800, the results are grainy. And of course, the little lens doesn't zoom, and it can never come close to the sharpness of my Nikkors (which, to be fair, cost four times as much for the lens alone as the price of my whole phone). So I won't be dumping the D300 anytime soon.

      Okay, but at least the phone can replace your landline, can't it? There are plenty of people who think so, and are saving hundreds of dollars per year by having their traditional telephone service disconnected, relying just on their cells. We got rid of our POTS line years ago - but we didn't go to cellular only. Instead we replaced it with a Voice over IP (VoIP) service that costs much less. The problem with using your cell as your only phone is that unlimited minutes plans are expensive, and if you have a different plan, you have to watch out for how much you talk. Also, if you ever make international calls, the wireless carriers charge you up the wazoo for them. There are several VoIP providers that give you unlimited calling not just in the U.S. but also to western Europe, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and other locations.

      Bottom line: the modern smart phone is a wondrous little machine that can do almost everything except the dishes - but it doesn't necessarily do all or most of those things as well as the respective dedicated devices do them. So, at least for the foreseeable future, I'll keep packing my MP3 player, my GPS, my "real" cameras, and pretty much everything I was packing before, except maybe my alarm clock. I look forward to the day when my phone can do it all, but for me, that day hasn't come.

      How about you? Has your smart phone replaced some or all of your extra devices? Could you see it doing so in the near future? If not, what changes would have to occur before you'd abandon your other electronics for the freedom of traveling light with a "does it all" phone? Or do you just prefer having separate devices for different functions? We invite you to discuss this topic in our forum at

      Thanks in advance to all of those who participate in this week's discussion!

      'Til next week,
      Deb Shinder, Editor

      Follow Deb on Twitter

      PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called Win7News? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

      And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

      Look up the WXPnews Fan Page and join us on Facebook!

      Quotes of the Week:

      Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine. - Elvis Presley

      A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. - John Barrymore

      All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. - Walt Disney

       Cool Tools

      Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

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      Get your speed back! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

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      Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of new data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.

       News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

      A Safer Way to Surf the Web

      Last week in our sister publication, Win7News, I discussed the fact that most malware today infects our computers via malicious web sites. One way to avoid it is to stay off the web, but for most of us, that's not an option. A better way to deal with it is to use a DNS service that offers built in protection from bad sites. ClearCloud DNS, offered by GFI, gets the job done with minimal effort on your part. And since GFI recently acquired Sunbelt Software, you know you're dealing with a company you know and trust. Check out my editorial about ClearCloud (and sample our Windows 7 newsletter if you haven't already) at

      IE 9 beta launches - but not for XP

      This week, Microsoft launched the beta of Internet Explorer 9, which promises "a more beautiful web." It sounds great, but if you're running Windows XP as your OS, I guess you'll be stuck with the same old plain jane web you had before. And even if you have Vista, you won't be able to use all of IE 9's new features.

      Will the "refreshing new look and feel" of IE 9 persuade you to switch to Windows 7? Or will you instead end up switching away from IE entirely, to Chrome or Firefox or another alternative browser? XP still has the majority of the desktop market share, so did Microsoft make a big mistake by not making IE 9 run on it? Tell us what you think in the forum at

      Need more speed with XP SP3?

      Microsoft recently ended extended support for XP SP2, so if you want to continue to get updates - including important security updates - you need to install SP3. Why are so many folks putting it off? Well, you may have heard that it slows down the system, and in some cases, that's true. However, there are some tweaks you can perform that will help. Find out more here:

       How To: Using XP Features

      How to play DVDs from other regions

      DVDs are made for specific regions of the world. Usually you're going to be buying DVDs made for your region, and they play on your XP computer with no problem. However, sometimes you might have a DVD movie that was made for a different region. Are you out of luck? Nope - you can change your DVD region to make it play. If you have DVD decoder software, go into its settings and change the region there. If you're using a hardware decoder, you can change the region in Device Manager. Here's how:

      1. Log on as Administrator.
      2. Click Start.
      3. Right click My Computer.
      4. Click Properties.
      5. Click the Hardware Tab.
      6. Click Device Manager.
      7. Double click DVD/CD ROM drive in the list of devices.
      8. Right click the drive for which you want to change the settings.
      9. Click Properties.
      10. Click the DVD Region tab.
      11. Change to whatever region the DVD you have was made for.
      12. Click OK.
       XP Security News

      Microsoft patches vulnerabilities related to Stuxnet but there may be more In this month's Patch Tuesday releases, Microsoft fixed a vulnerability in the MPEG-4 codec and a printer spooler flaw used by the Stuxnet worm, but a security expert says there are probably more that are still waiting to be found.
       XP Question Corner

      How do I set up the Remote Desktop

      I've always heard a lot about Remote Desktop but never used it on my XP machine. Now I have a computer upstairs and one downstairs, and sometimes I want to be able to do things on the upstairs machine when I'm downstairs. Specifically, there is a program installed on that computer that I don't have on the downstairs computer. The upstairs computer is XP Pro but the downstairs one is XP Home. Do I need Pro on both for this to work? Is there anything else I have to install? Thanks. - Tammy K.

      You're in luck! The computer acting as the Remote Desktop server needs to have the Pro version of XP installed, but you can use XP Home for the client system to access the Pro computer's desktop. Setting it up involves several steps, but you can find the full instructions here:

      You can also use your XP computer to access the desktop of a Vista Business/Ultimate or Windows 7 Pro/Ultimate computer. XP has the Remote Desktop client software (called Remote Desktop Connection) built in. To use all advanced features, you need to be sure you have the latest version, Remote Desktop Connection 6.1. This version is installed with XP SP3 (RDC 7.0 is only for Vista and Windows 7) but if you haven't installed the latest service pack, you may have an older version. Find out more about it here:
       XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

      Enable or Disable DEP for Office Applications

      Data Execution Prevention (DEP) is designed to provide better security by prohibiting applications from executing code from a non-executable part of memory. Makes sense, but sometimes it causes application compatibility problems. This can even happen with Microsoft Office applications. You can disable or enable DEP quickly and easily, but using the Fix It tool in KB article 971766 at
       Fav Links

      Do people really eat that?

      Gas mask art

      10 weird jobs that pay really well

      Around the solar system

      Ultimate rubber band gun

      Newspaper house

      A well coordinated crew strips down and rebuilds a Jeep in less than 4 minutes. Yup, you read that right. Fun to see:

      Cute girl has a catchy dance. Keep watching:

      The commute of one worker 1786 feet straight up. Don't watch this if you are afraid of heights!:
       Product of the Week

      New Release: Driver Genius Professional 10 - Start Your Free Driver Scan Now And Find Out If You Have Outdated Drivers.

      Keeping your Drivers up to date is an essential step to keep your PC running smoothly. When drivers get out of date, your PC can become unstable and you may experience frequent crashes, frozen applications and slow boot up times. Driver Genius Professional takes the hassle out of managing your drivers and will automatically backup, update and restore all your PC drivers. Over 80,000 devices supported. What's New in Version 10? Driver Scan Scheduler - daily, weekly or monthly scans ensure drivers are current. Driver Update Notifications - automatic notification of available updated drivers. Download Verification - auto-verifies complete driver downloads. Customize your Driver download location. Automatically removes of outdated drivers from download manager. Hides driver update notifications for specific devices, such as ones no longer in use. Update History - keeps a log of all driver updates made on your PC. Creates a system restore point before installing new drivers. Command line mode - automates driver backup using a command line mode. IMPROVED! Thousands of the newest drivers added to the Driver Database. More device support than ever before! IMPROVED! Faster, more reliable driver downloads. IMPROVED! Driver scan accuracy - provides more accurate information about outdated drivers. IMPROVED! One - Click Driver installation simplifies installs. IMPROVED! Enhanced User Interface makes Driver Genius easier and more convenient than ever. Change Font size and more. WXPNews Subscribers: $5.00 Special Discount Available!
       About WXPnews

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