Tech Break: Row 44 & Southwest WiFi

Over President’s Day weekend, I did something that I have not done in quite a while – take a flight on Southwest. The third major airline at Denver International Airport offered a lower fare than my perennial favorite, Frontier Airlines, between home and here, so I got to taste firsthand the crackers, peanuts, and inflight WiFi of the US’s largest low-cost airline.
At this point, getting WiFi on a Southwest flight is a very unsure proposition; the technology is only installed on seventy of their 547 plane fleet, and I did not know WiFi was available until I saw the “Southwest WiFi Hotspot” decal as I boarded the aircraft. However, the airline is aggressively rolling out the service to its fleet, and rollout appears not to be specific to just newer planes; I am positive that my flight was not on a shiny new Boeing 737-700, yet WiFi was definitely online.

Tech Break: Comcast, Verizon and Apple

The last few weeks were relatively busy for the nation’s largest ISP, the nation’s largest wireless provider and the nation’s hottest computer manufacturer, and each company’s announcements had something to do with communications.With Comcast and Apple, the story was about getting data faster. With Verizon, price was a keyword on both ends of the spectrum, thanks to their release of the rather expensive Motorola Xoom tablet and their priced-to-sell landline replacement service.

Tech Break: Gogo inflight WiFi

I’m writing this article from a relatively exotic location (Orlando, Florida) with a relatively exotic computer (Google’s Cr-48). I am here for work-related reasons (partial internship), and as a result, had someone pick my flight for me. The flight to here, powered by US Airways, has in-flight WiFi, so I will review that in this article.

Tech Break: Anticompetitive, much?

Apple just brought their iPhone to the US’s largest wireless carrier. Comcast is rumored to be upgrading Internet speeds for the second time in less than three years. So competition from other companies in each mega-corp’s field is moving the market forward, requiring no regulation to keep it on the right path, right? Maybe, but there are a few rather deep, dark secrets that seem to point to both companies being a little too big, with too few observers for their customers’ own good.

Tech Break: Google Cr-48 with Chrome OS

I am typing two of my three articles this week via web-based word processors not from Google. The reason? To test how well Google’s Chrome OS works as an alternative to desktop computing. The test was brought about by a package that showed up on my doorstep Tuesday; Google decided that I was worthy enough to be given the Cr-48, a test platform for their browser-based OS, Chrome OS.

LG Optimus V

Tech Break: LG Optimus V Review

This week I was going to talk about anti-competitive shenanigans on the part of Apple and Comcast, but this news is more current, more important, and more just-plain-awesome. The reason is that there now exists an excellent smart phone that does not require a contract and allows unlimited data and messaging, plus some voice minutes for less than the price of the average cell carrier’s unlimited data plan alone. This phone’s name is Optimus V, and it is available on Virgin Mobile.

Tech Break: Going mobile

Welcome to the new year! Apologies for the lack of Tech Breaks in past Oredigger issues. Hopefully my schedule will allow for a weekly article again. For this week, let’s look at what’s hot in the wireless market, based on data that I collected late last semester and bolstered over the break.

Apple iPod Nano

Tech Break: The new iPod Nano

A few weeks ago, Apple released the update to their smallest digital media player ever to have a screen, the iPod nano. The device stands as a radical departure from the previous members of the iPod nano family (and the iPod mini before it), substituting a tiny touch screen for Apple’s hallmark “click wheel” as a navigation method. The Mines Bookstore was gracious enough to loan me one last week, so I could find out for myself whether Apple’s newest form factor is a workable one.

Tech Break: ivi TV

ivi, an online TV service available for just a few dollars per month for Windows, Mac and Linux systems, could stand to revolutionize internet video, free of ties to the telephone, cable or satellite company…if it could step things up a notch or two…and survive the impending tsunami of lawsuits about to crash into it full force.

The service’s premise is simple: take content that is available for free over the air in various major markets, then pipe it onto the Internet for all to see. Add in a few independent stations via encoders on-location, mix in a premium channel or two and charge a few bucks per month for the package. Bake until done and use a heat gun to check for profit.

Tech Break: Why is iTunes so slow?

We could talk about Google Instant, but there really isn’t much to say about that product; you type a search query and Google pulls up results before you finish typing. Google Instant increases the number of search queries that hit Google servers by a factor of between five and seven, and will save people 350 million hours over the course of the year. The time savings assumes, of course, that people will not spend those hours testing out Google Instant, or programming instant editions of other web applications, such as Google Maps or iTunes.

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