Slow Down Said The GPS

GPS units were the hottest selling item last Christmas. Australia has finally embraced the benefits of a gadget that tells you where to go with a few extra bits and pieces thrown in.

Three states of Australia are running a trial to use the technology that powers GPS, to ensure our cars maintain the speed limit ceiling and save lives through less crashes from speed.

GPS was created by the United States Department of Defense to provide accurate positioning of military vehicles. It was made available for commercial, non military use in the early 1980s. Technology has allowed prices of SatNav receivers to drop and today we can now afford to have one in our cars.

The plan, is to use the positioning and speed monitoring benefits of GPS to monitor your speed and slow the car if you exceed it. We discussed some concerns on the Today Show this morning, however we didn’t get time to address a pretty major one. GPS requires line of sight to at least four satellites, if you are driving in a built up area with high rise buildings your GPS may lose line of sight. Should this happen, your system will not know what street your car is on and must estimate its position. I’ve had this happen to me already when driving in the Sydney CBD and it is so annoying, the SatNav has a major melt down and is practically useless. I can handle that for driving from point A to point B, however if the streets I am driving through have different posted speed limits what will that do to my safety and that of others?

We’re planning to test this technology out on CyberShack TV next week, to air in July. I will let you know what limitations we find in our review.

To Tivo OR Not To Tivo – That will be the question this July

The SMH reports today that a source inside Channel 7 has confirmed that Tivo will be released in July. The original vibe I received was that Tivo would be released in time for the Olympics so that Aussies could run out with their credit cards and not miss a moment of the Olympics’ coverage. Great plan, but in reality I doubt that a couple of weeks is enough time for the bulk of us to get Tivo in our houses for the event.

So the Tivo is arriving late, but what are the pros and cons of Tivo? Exactly how successful has Tivo been in countries where it has been on sale for some time?

In existence for just over ten years, Tivo as a company makes Personal Video Recorders (PVRs). They’re most well known in the USA, although they have had units sold in other countries such as Great Britain (although they are no longer sold there any more). In the U.S. Tivo is used for recording cable, free to air and satellite TV services. I was really impressed when staying at a hotel in New York once and the in-room TV had Tivo. Not only could I record shows when I was at meetings, I was able to record shows in a subject of interest. I asked it to record all NFL games, and it did that over the next three days that I was there. Every time I wanted to watch TV I was able to click a couple of buttons and watch NFL games, discussion panels, highlight shows and more.

The market share success of Tivo in the US PVR market has been said to be about 30 to 40%. It’s been argued this would be higher except that subscription fees need to be paid each month otherwise the electronic program guide does not work and the Tivo is unable to receive other online content assistance.

Landing in Australia again and Tivo (we’re told by Asher) will launch with a sale price of about $700. Um, are you serious $700! But wait, there is no monthly subscription fee attached and once you buy it, you own it forever.

I still need some convincing on Tivo. I have a media center pc, I hardly ever use it for recording TV, apart from watching back my Today Show segments. I prefer to just flick the TV on and watch a couple of shows when they are on and when nothing else is on I find something else to do. That said Tivo is easier to use and faster to schedule your TV shows

Will Tivo change Australia’s pattern of watching TV? In my opinion, not this year and not for while.

I Have Played With The Omnia and I Liked What I Saw

It’s an exciting morning when you go to breakfast at a schmick hotel and the guys at Samsung are there talking about the afternoon’s presentation where they will unveil their new hero product the ‘Omnia’. It’s even more exciting when they have the hero product in their hand and say ‘here, check it out’.

I was a kid in a candy store… from the leaked details on the web, the Omnia sounds like an iPhone but runs off windows mobile OS. Well, it is exactly that and although I only had three minutes to play with it I liked what I saw.

This is not an Omnia review, how can you review a product in three minutes? This is more an Omnia glimpse.

The size of the device is much the same as the iPhone, it’s thin, light and strong. It feels really solid. The touch screen display is great, the icons don’t fly around the screen like on the iPhone but busting your way through the menu is easy and fast. Up the right side edge of the Omnia are volume controls, and at the bottom of the front panel a cancel/back button.

In the back is a 5.0 mega pixel camera and from taking a few happy snaps of the unsuspecting diners mulling over their breakfast I noticed it had the ‘auto face focus’ feature that most good cameras have.

I did have to hand back the Omnia much sooner than I had suspected as it was going to be used in this afternoon’s presentation! However I look forward to taking a closer look at the device tonight.

Charlie Brown travelled to CommunicAsia courtesy of Samsung