The F-Word: Fun

Google Fiber Targets Austin, TX

Google, as part of its campaign to crank up broadband speeds, aims to start connecting Austinites by mid-2014 to an all-fiber network that will provide super-fast Internet and TV.

Austin, Tex., is the second market for Google Fiber, after the company began connecting customers in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., late last year.

“We believe the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, and we hope this new Google Fiber city will inspire communities across America to think about what ultrafast connectivity could mean for them,” Google Fiber veep Milo Medin said in a blog post Tuesday.

But some analysts question whether Google’s fiber plans will have any broader effect on the business and regulatory environment for high-speed Internet. “We remain skeptical that Google will find a scalable and economically feasible model to extend its buildout to a large portion of the U.S., as costs would be substantial, regulatory and competitive barriers material,” Sanford Bernstein senior analyst Carlos Kirjner wrote in a research note last week.

Apple To Launch “Ring” TV

The iTV will boast a 60-inch screen and cost up to $2,500, Brian White, at Topeka Capital Markets, said today.

Apple’s new gadget will come with a tablet the same size as an iPad. Users will be able to send videos from the iTV to the tablet to continue watching a programme as they move around the house.

The concept is similar to the way in which satellite TV companies are starting to let their set-top boxes send videos to iPads and other tablets.

The iTV’s most interesting feature, however, is the “iRing”. The device will allow viewers to control the screen simply by pointing.

The Smartwatch Revolution

The Pebble has arrived! Brian Ries on what it’s like wearing the next big thing in tech on his wrist—and why he never needs to reach into his pocket to read a text message again.

Samsung’s S IV: What To Expect

On the evening of March 14, the smartphone maker/Apple nemesis/James Franco employer Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S IV (commonly known as the S4). And even though Samsung claims that it’s trying to keep its newest superphone a secret until next Thursday’s event in New York City, details of the Galaxy S4 have been squirting out here and there like liquid from a leaky waterbed.

So, what should you expect when you’re expecting a Galaxy S4? We’ve collected the most prominent and persistent rumors below. We’ll know whether the S4 is an S-Score or an S-Bore in about a week, but until then, let’s get on with the speculation.


The display on the Galaxy S III is huge, by most Americans’ standards: 4.8 inches measured diagonally, with a 1280 x 720 resolution, for a pixel density of 306 pixels per inch. For the Galaxy S4, consensus seems to be that Samsung will venture even bigger, with a 5.0-inch display, a “full HD” resolution of 1920 x 1080, or 440 pixels per inch (higher ppi is better, though perhaps only to a point).

That 5-inch display would mean an enormous flagship smartphone for Samsung, whose first Galaxy Note with its 5.3-inch display, remember, was initially laughed at. (No one is laughing now.) It would mean that Samsung’s superphone would once again hulk over Apple’s, which features a just-enlarged 4.0-inch display.

Sony Launches PlayStation 4

Sony launched the latest salvo in its ongoing rivalry with Microsoft with the launch of the PlayStation 4, the first of a new generation of consoles. At an event held in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York’s Manhattan Center, Sony revealed that the PlayStation 4 would go on sale this Christmas. It refused to set a price, or even show the console itself but it is unlikely to cost much less than $500.

With under-the bonnet power considerably in excess of that of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it will usher in a new breed of games with startlingly lifelike graphics, set in virtual worlds that operate in a much more believable manner than the current crop. But it will not have that ground to itself: Microsoft is applying the finishing touches to a successor for its Xbox 360 which, it is believed, it will unveil at the E3 Show in Los Angeles in June. That, too, is likely to go on sale this Christmas, unleashing a titanic battle for living room supremacy between Sony and Microsoft.

Apple To Release Cheap iPhone?

For nearly six years, Apple’s sold just one line of iPhones. The strategy serves the Cupertino, Calif.-based company well. By some measures, the pricey, wildly popular smartphone — the iPhone 5 starts at $199 and prices vary depending on storage size — generates more cash than the entirety of Microsoft’s product line.

Now, under pressure from cheaper Android devices, Apple’s looking to attract new customers turned off by high prices. According to one of the most trusted Apple reporters in the U.S., the smartphone maker is set to introduce a second, cheaper line of iPhones.

After speaking to “people briefed on the matter,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jessica E. Lessin reports that a less expensive Apple smartphone, made with a plastic shell instead of the iPhone 5′s aluminum casing, would be available by the end of 2013.

Apple Announces Big Plans

As Apple faces increased scrutiny for hiring foreign firms to manufacture its products overseas, CEO Tim Cook says that the U.S.-based company is looking to bring more jobs back home.

In an interview on “Rock Center with Brian Williams” on Thursday, December 6, Cook said that a line of Apple’s Mac computers will be manufactured in the U.S. in 2013. He did not say which line would be made in America, nor did he address recent reports that customers had spotted new iMac computers with the words “Assembled in USA”, instead of “Assembled in China,” printed on the devices.

The announcement came as Cook and Williams sat in Apple’s sumptuous Grand Central retail store and chatted about the company’s products.