Dexim’s Decent iPod Dock

dexim_dockI really like Dexim’s AV Dock Station, a handy little gadget that lets you connect your iPod or iPhone to your TV. In fact, if not for one pretty major flaw, I’d be ready to buy one of these myself.

The DRA107 AV Dock Station is a compact iPod/iPhone dock that connects to your TV via composite A/V. The necessary cables — and eight different iPod/iPhone connectors — are included in the $69.95 package. You just connect it to your TV, plop your iPod into the dock, and you’re in business. The Dexim dock has its own battery, and comes with an AC adapter for charging it when it gets too low. It will also charge your iPhone or iPod when the device is in the dock.

You can control your iPhone or iPod by using their controls (even when in the dock) or by using Dexim’s remote — which is convenient, but a bit limiting. The remote’s buttons didn’t always work as I expected, largely because while the round wheel on the remote looks like the touch-sensitive controls on the front of my iPod Nano, the remote itself is not touch-sensitive. And pressing the wheel up or down controls the volume, rather than letting you navigate through menus. Instead, you have to resort to using up-and-down arrows on the remote to navigate, which seems counterintuitive.

Once you start playing a song, a video, or even a YouTube video on your phone, the content automatically displays on your TV screen. In my tests, most video looked very good, though some content looked slightly washed out. My iPhone and iPod don’t hold any true HD content, but the videos I played back looked sharp — much more so than standard-def content viewed on the same TV. Video automatically reformatted for playback on my 16:9 TV, and the audio was loud and clear. The overall experience was far more enjoyable than watching video on the small screen of an iPod or an iPhone.

I didn’t have the same luck with the AV Dock Station’s audio playback, though. Many times, I was simply unable to get it to play on my TV. I’d start a song on my iPod or iPhone, but my TV would display a message saying it wasn’t receiving a signal from the AV connection. Dexim said the problem was likely due to a faulty setting on my TV, which I was unable to fix. I was able to get the audio to play sporadically, but even when it was working, the audio quality left me underwhelmed — in large part due to the low quality of my TV speakers.

You can find similar products that will connect your iPod/iPhone to your TV. Griffin, for one, offers a $50 set of cables that will handle the job, though without the neat dock to keep you organized. Apple also offers a dock and a set of cables, but buying both products will cost you $100.

I like the Dexim dock’s affordable price. And while I’m not sold on the idea of playing my music through my TV, I still wish the AV Dock Station worked consistently as advertised. That would make me much more eager to recommend what seems to be a pretty cool product.


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Revenues are final

Not sure if this is encouraging or something else, but we’ve finished building our page of revenue opportunities. We heard a few very good ideas, but we’d already accounted for many of them. Here are the types of revenue opportunities, beyond online advertising that we think are possible (go to the page for details on each):

New Advertising Units (Sponsor Posts, Coupons & Deals of the Day, Video)
E-commerce
Paid Content
Lists & Databases
Mobile
Premium Products
Niche Websites
Donations
Print Editions
Special Reports
Memberships
Specialized Advertising Services
Business Marketplace
Events Hosting & Promotion
Cafés

Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions. Please keep ‘em coming.

Nokia’s Ovi Store: Video Apps Are a Mixed Bag

The iPhone got plenty of press earlier this summer when Apple finally added video recording features to the phone. Many of Nokia’s smartphones, though, have had video recording (and even video calling) features for years. And in Nokia’s Ovi Store, you’ll find plenty of apps that take advantage of those features. Below are several video apps I found intriguing, though not always for the best reasons. (Note: Not all of these apps work on all Nokia phones; some work on select handsets only.)

Live2Phone Mobile Surveillance 

live2phone_logoLet’s just get it out there: This app could be used for some less-than-ethical purposes. It allows you to place your Nokia phone somewhere and turn it into a remote surveillance camera. (You’ll need to download server software to run on your PC in order to use it.) So, yeah, technically you could then use your phone to spy on someone. But this app also has some practical uses as a security system, especially when you activate its motion sensor. And at $24.99, it costs a whole lot less. Of course, it requires that you leave your phone wherever you want to do your surveillance, which isn’t the most convenient solution, either.

Phone as Wireless Webcam 

OK, the name could use some work. But this $9.99 app lets you connect your Nokia phone to your computer (via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) and use its camera as your wireless webcam (hence the app’s name).

Bambuser 

The first thing I noticed about Nokia’s Ovi Store is that it doesn’t offer as many free apps as I expected it to — and even fewer that I would actually consider using. But Bambuser is one of them. This free app lets you stream live video from your Nokia phone over 3G or Wi-Fi networks. Just make sure to check your privacy settings before you begin broadcasting, or you could end up sending your video to a wider audience than you’d intended.

Qik Share Live Video

Qik is a relatively well-known, free live video-streaming app that’s similar to Bambuser. It lets you stream live videos to your friends and family, and also comes with tools for embedding videos in social networks like MySpace and Facebook or your personal blog. Qik is available for other mobile platforms (including the iPhone) and comes pre-loaded on Nokia’s high-end N97 phone.

Video Alarm 

videoalarmHere’s the perfect example of an app that I would use if I didn’t have to pay for it. But, sadly, Video Alarm costs $9.99. I use my cell phone as an alarm clock all the time, and would love to wake to a video playing instead of a grating ring tone. But not enough that I’d pay $10 for it.

Insy Television & Messaging

 Insy Television & Messaging works both as a a personal broadcasting solution and a video messaging app (though, presumably, you’d need to chat with someone else who is also using the app). That restriction might limit its appeal, but, hey, at least it’s free.

Media Studio 

media_studioIf you have lots of video content on your PC, and you want to get it on your phone, you’re often out of luck. (Unless you purchased said content from iTunes, and you own an iPhone, but that’s another story.) Media Studio lets you convert PC-based videos so that you can transfer them to your phone. The desktop software (free with the the $9.99 application) can compress a full-length DVD so that it fits on a 256MB memory card. 

Are there any apps in Nokia’s Ovi store that you like? Please share in the comments.


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Revenues, Again

The first cut of our revenue opportunities list is now up here and in the side bar. We have another half dozen categories to add to this list, but please let us know if you think we’ve left anything out or missed the boat on something entirely.

From this first list, I was surprised by how many of the folks pointed to the value of a printed product. It is the most noteworthy area, of many, where my early assumptions were proven incorrect.

Jeff Mignon and Nancy Wang of Mignon-Media have been helping us with this project and were instrumental in developing this list of revenue opportunities.

Cloudy Day: Review of Jolicloud Alpha 2b “Robby” Release

A few days ago (on a cloudy day, when I began writing this post), I received my Jolicloud private alpha 2b developer version invite. After creating a Jolicloud account and downloading a 600MB .img file, I copied it over as a bootable USB thumb drive and was off to the races. Loading it was hassle-free — Jolicloud is based off of Ubuntu; the install process is nearly identical.

On my Asus Eee PC 901, I have a fast 4GB solid state drive, and a slower 8 GB solid state drive. I decided to manually partition my drives, mounting root (/) on the 4GB and my home directory (/home) on the 8GB. Since I have 2 GB of RAM, and all storage in the 901 is solid state, I decided that a swap partition wasn't necessary or ideal in my scenario.

On my 901, it takes 31.6 seconds to boot from power button to log-in prompt. Fairly impressive for the underpowered hardware, but I was honestly expecting it to be quicker. It appears to boot slightly faster than my previous install of Gentoo (and is certainly less hassle to configure), but I neglected to time this before installing Jolicloud. We'll just have to resort to my concept of time and space on this one. Keep reading after the break to see my first impressions on this much-hyped OS.

First Impressions

The application installer is pretty neat, and definitely a plus for those with little to no Linux experience. Turning web pages into full screen applications is definitely the biggest offering I see on this platform so far - that said, I'm not too impressed with the way the OS interface interacts with the Jolicloud application. Leaving Ubuntu's netbook remix interface on OS-level controls seems incomplete to me, and I would opt to simply run Ubuntu as my sub-notebook OS. The icons haven't even been skinned to differentiate the two.

Operating System as a Social Network

It's an interesting concept, and the main focus of Jolicloud. Interacting with other Jolicloud users and sharing information (such as "Eric installed the Skype Application") is seamless and automatic, but I'm not sure I see the value in this. Additionally, while the Jolicloud network has a growing number of ported applications, the offerings are still too slim to suit my needs. Sure, I can add applications through the Ubuntu interface, but that's kind of self-defeating.

Things I Like About Jolicloud

  • As a concept, Jolicloud is leading the integration between OS and the web - other than Google's announcement of Chrome OS, there isn't another quasi-mainstream release (that I'm aware of) that has stated their intention to enter this market arena - especially as its main focus.
  • It's based on Ubuntu, and comes pre-configured for popular netbook models.
  • "My Jolicloud" settings and states are saved and synchronized between multiple sub-notebooks.
  • Full screen web applications launched from the application menu. Think Facebook chat.
  • Out of the box 3G card support.
  • If I had a touch screen, I would fully appreciate their one-click application installer interface. Even easier than the App store on the iPhone.
  • I like light blue and clouds. This makes their logo appealing to my taste. That said I wouldn't mind a more ominous, less cutesy cloud. Like a nimbostratus.

Things I Don't Like About Jolicloud

  • It relies too heavily on Ubuntu's netbook remix interface, to the point where it seems to still be Ubuntu. I'd like to see the overall functionality integrate further before I'd call this its own markedly different initiative.
  • Webcam on the Asus Eee PC 901 doesn't work out of the box with Cheese or Tinychat.
  • Limited UI - I have the same complaint with Ubuntu's netbook remix. While I understand the principle behind full screen only views, it'd be useful to split view once in a while, like ratpoison does, but for non-command line users.
  • Social network based around an OS doesn't do enough for me. What kinds of value or efficiency add is there to this? Seems to benefit Jolicloud, but I'm not quite sure where my own personal return is.
  • Switching back and forth between the Ubuntu netbook remix interface and the "My Jolicloud" page within the Jolicloud app is cumbersome and non-intuitive. I'd like to control many of the OS settings without switching out of the Jolicloud interface.

Touch Screen

I don't have a touch screen hacked into my 901, but the Jolicloud application interface is definitely touch screen ready. Most actions and navigations are handled by a single click, the most intuitive interface action on touch screen devices. If they integrated the OS controls and applications launcher from the Jolicloud interface, it'd be a great way to go for touch-and-go interaction between user and device.

This is Alpha

Please remember that this software is still in an Alpha release, and is likely to become much more mature before we see a system worthy of release candidate nomination. No official judgment from this side of the table until that happens.

An update on my thoughts come Beta release is sure to come. Your thoughts in the comments, please.

More Mobile Broadband Subscribers Means More Video

The future of video could be right in your hands. Literally. Mobile video is on the grow with no signs of slowing down. As Om points out over at GigaOM, there could be more than 250 million wireless broadband subscribers by the end of 2009.

And those subscribers aren’t just getting faster connections for sending txts 2 thr frnds. A new generation is growing up with mobile video. Nielsen recently found that teens make up more than 20 percent of the mobile video market and watch more mobile video than the average user.

YouTube has said that mobile video is an “exponentially” growing part of its site, thanks, in part to the release of Apple’s iPhone 3GS.

And there has been some funding activity in the mobile video space lately, with QuickPlay raising $12 million and Qik getting $5.5 million.


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QuickPlay Raises $12M for Mobile Video

QuickPlay Media today announced it raised a $12 million investment, led by GMP Securities and including previous investors General Catalyst Partners, JLA Ventures and Ventures West.

Toronto-based QuickPlay powers the Wi-Fi video download service for ABC, CBS and NBC and other content on BlackBerrys (see our scoop and review). Liane called the company’s PrimeTime2Go for BlackBerry “the best video quality I’ve seen on a cell phone.” However, deciding what program you want to watch, then downloading it over a solid Wi-Fi connection isn’t exactly the heights of mobility.

QuickPlay’s OpenVideo platform delivers video for more than 150 content providers, 15 major mobile operators and over 100 million subscribers. Its newest service is the SIRIUS XM radio apps for iPhone and iPod Touch.



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