We're creeping up on a year since I first got a hold of the Slacker Portable Player at SXSW in Austin. I'm pleased to see that the fledgling company has not lost track of its vision, and is indeed making good on all the hype. That's right, folks: we've finally got our hands on a real, honest-to-goodness, working Slacker Portable Player. It's about darn time, too. Actually, it's in the knick of time, because the units have also just gone on sale to the public, and I want to make sure you all get … Read more
Southwest Airlines announced Wednesday that it plans to begin trials of satellite-to-airplane broadband Internet service sometime this summer.
Spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said Wednesday morning that initially Southwest plans to test the service on four planes. But because the airline's planes fly many different routes, she did not anticipate--at least not yet--that travelers would be able to plan to fly on one of those planes.
That means that in the early going at least, the service--which will allow passengers to access the Internet if they have their own Wi-Fi-enabled laptops--will be available at random.
McInnis did not say if Southwest'… Read more
I've written here before about emergency locators, those gizmos that can help rescuers find you if you become lost in the wilderness.
The tragic death of CNET's own James Kim and the disappearances of Microsoft's Jim Gray and famed adventurer Steve Fossett have convinced me that anyone who travels outside populated areas ought to carry one of these devices.
Following that earlier post, I was contacted by SPOT Inc., makers of the SPOT Satellite Messenger, which began shipping through major outdoor retailers this fall. They offered me a SPOT messenger for review, and I happily accepted. It … Read more
One of the largest satellite TV providers is slicing itself into smaller pieces.
Formerly called EchoStar, it will be split into two businesses: the satellite broadcast service will be called Dish Network, and its fixed satellite services and set-top box business will be called EchoStar Holding Co., according to SEC filings dug up by GigaOm.
Current chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen will retain both titles as head of both companies.
I'll tell you one thing: Slacker sure does like to drag out its buzz. Now, you tell me: Did it work? Or are you over it already? Actually, we should give them a little leeway for making us wait so long, for a couple of reasons. First, they're starting something totally new with the whole Wi-Fi/Satellite radio-hopping thing and worked out all the kinks, which in a configuration like this, can be time-consuming business. Second, it takes some serious negotiation (hence, time) to get the type of audio permissions they need. Still, all the waiting makes me … Read more
Shareholders of both Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio separately approved Sirius' $5 billion acquisition of XM on Tuesday.
Now the companies just need approval from the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission before they can make the deal final.
But approval from these agencies is far from guaranteed. The FCC has been examining the deal very closely. Originally, the agency barred satellite radio companies from combining. But the rule could be changed, especially as satellite radio faces more … Read more
Blu-ray and HD DVD used to be exclusive to high-end and expensive desktop replacements. Sony put Blu-ray in its VGN-AR series, while Toshiba responded by inserting an HD DVD in its Qosmio laptops.
The first next-generation optical drive to appear in a 15.4-inch portable was with the Sony VGN-FZ notebook in July. However, this option bumped up the cost of the unit to more than $3,000. Today, Toshiba announced that it's putting the HD DVD into the midsize Satellite A200 laptop, with the basic configuration starting at $1,775. This may possibly be the cheapest portable to … Read more
When we first saw the "IsatPhone" it seemed that, unlike most gigantic predecessors, it might actually be of a manageable size. Though not the smallest satellite phone around, it's certainly more compact than a lot of earlier versions we've seen.
But like all sat-phones, the telltale oversized antenna will make sure it never gets confused with a Razr or Chocolate. Even more distinguishing is its price of $775--which the company claims is one of the world's cheapest, according to Red Ferret. And that's for a whole 2 hours and 40 minutes of talk … Read more
With a few honorable exceptions, car stereo manufacturers are reluctant to build satellite radio tuners into their products, preferring instead to flog you clunky--and expensive--proprietary add-on modules to go with your XM or Sirius subscription.
Perhaps realizing that this model wasn't in the interests of increased adoption of its service, XM has just released the Audiovox XM Direct 2, a (relatively) streamlined, universal adapter that works with nearly all satellite-ready car stereos, irrespective of their manufacturers. In addition to its car compatibility, the device can also be plugged into XM-ready home audio products and XM2go portable radios. According to … Read more
Generally speaking, my love for satellite radio is nonexistent. Sorry to say, I just don't see a reason to spend that kind of money ($12 per month) to listen to a host of shows that can usually be heard on the radio and music that copies what we hear on local radio for free. Now for some, the prospect of missing Howard Stern may be too much to handle, so they go out and pay for Sirius. But XM doesn't have a show like that and more often than not, you'll find yourself working your way through dreck just to get to MLB or other exclusive offerings.
But alas, this hands-on isn't about XM programming as much as it's about the XpressRC. And for all of the faults I find in XM programming, they can't compare to just how nice the XpressRC is.… Read more