Category Archives: Electronics

Motorola Xoom vs iPad: Which one Lost?

How do you know your product has failed?

When it’s sitting at the top of Woot – after Not Selling anywhere else. [EDIT: for the sake of Varun’s sanity, a very spirited commenter in the thread below, I amended this paragraph to help him better understand.]

I don’t know about you, but I hate buying something (new or used) only to know that it’s not going to be around (or supported) for much longer. Not to say that the Motorola Xoom tablet is a failure, but… normally, you wouldn’t find successes sitting in the digital equivalent of a bargain bin.

If you would still love to get your hands on this tablet computer, you’re better off looking for people who are more-than-willing to sell their remorse to you. I’m guessing you can get a Xoom for even less than what this web site is selling it for.

I might also mention that I’ve never touched a Motorola Xoom – but why would I? Why would you? Five years ago, the Xoom may have made for one interesting portable device. Five years ago.

And, for clarification’s sake: I have absolutely nothing against the Motorola Xoom for what it is! Unfortunately, it fell short of expectations in just about every way – and when you’re trying to compete with the iPad, you’d better have one amazing story to tell at a no-brainer price point.

Some people hate Apple so much that they’re trying to prove a point by buying something else. Stupid, but I guess it’s admirable. If you’re really itching to spend money on anything that isn’t an iPad at this point, you’re better off looking at HP’s TouchPad – if only because you know a single company is controlling the experience (hardware AND software).

I think it’s fair to say that the Xoom lost – but it didn’t go down without a fight!

Why Customer Service is Important in Business

I’ve been a Best Buy shopper for as long as I can remember. At one point, I even worked there. Recently, there have been a few red flags raised in reference to some of the bad customer service decisions they’ve made recently when I’ve gone in to make purchases.

The most recent example of this came when I brought a 10% off coupon in to the store to use on a new cable modem I was getting for a service upgrade I’m having done at my home. To my surprise, the cashier denied the coupon because the word modem didn’t appear anywhere on the coupon printout (even under the list of exclusions).

As I scanned the list of applicable devices, I noticed one word that is clearly associated with the device in question. Networking is covered by the coupon, and I can’t think of any device more suited to the term than one that connects your existing network to the Internet. In fact, the only port (other than the coaxial) is a networking port. The very purpose of this device is to interact with and route information to and from your network. Why wouldn’t this be covered under networking? Cable modems are even sold in the networking area of the store – right next to routers and switches.

What’s more disturbing, is the computer system itself denied the coupon. This is either a clear indication of intentionally bad business practices or a lack of basic technical understanding on the part of the person or persons responsible for promotional offers. In either of these cases, Best Buy should know better and honor their promises. A coupon that is made with the intention of bringing customers in only works if it’s honored by the retailer.

So, over an amount of less than $10, Best Buy has lost me as a customer. The hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in profit I could give them in the coming years is now going to go to another retailer that believes in respecting their offers. This is just another reason why customer service is important in business. If the local store had the foresight to correct the problem and provide proper customer service, they could have saved a customer and avoided this public outcry for them to do better.

Do you feel I’m in the wrong? Have you ever had a disappointing customer service experience at Best Buy or another electronics store? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Can the Nook Color Compete With Other Android Tablets?

Jake Ludington of LockerGnome is looking for a tablet small enough to fit in his cargo pants pocket with the capability to run Android apps. The Nook Color by Barnes and Noble may be exactly what he needs to get the job done. So, can the Nook compete with other Android tablets?

With a 7-inch screen, the Nook Color is slightly more compact than many of the other tablets out there. As an ebook reader, the screen is just right for reading text on a page-to-page basis. In fact, the Nook’s screen is bigger than its biggest competitor, the Kindle, which sits at 6 inches. This makes it small enough to fit in a cargo pants pocket, which is exactly what Jake was looking for. Colors are vibrant and vidid on the 1024×600 display. When compared to the slightly more powerful Archos 70 ($335), the Nook ($249) actually features a higher-resolution.

One important note here is that the Nook is powered by Android, but not all of Android’s features are made available to the user out of the box. In order to unlock the full potential of the Android installation, the user needs to root (think Jailbreaking) the device. This may void your warranty, but if an inexpensive Android tablet is what you’re looking for, this can make it possible.

If you are planning to use the Nook as an Android device rather than a book reader, you may want to keep in mind that the Nook has an underpowered processor when compared to other Android tablets. The ARM Cortex-A8 processor (800MHz) is about as powerful as one you might have found in the very first generation of Android phones. Though it certainly doesn’t compete as strongly with the Xoom or Samsung Galaxy tablets, it is capable of handling basic tasks such as email, web browsing, etc.

At this point, price for performance on the Nook may beat everything currently out on the market. At $249, you essentially have a capable Android tablet with a decent screen and build quality. Though underpowered by today’s standards, and really just an ebook reader at heart, it can deliver more bang for your buck than even the incredibly disappointing $99 Maylong tablet.

How to Monitor Your Electricity Usage Remotely

Have you ever been curious exactly how much your appliances and other electronics are costing you to run? You could use something like a Kill-a-Watt which measures the amount of electricity being pulled on a single outlet, but what if you want to keep track of the electricity usage across your entire home? This is where the PowerCost Monitor can really come in handy. It’s an easily installed gadget that is intended to help monitor your electric usage remotely.

This two-part device includes a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter installs with a simple ring clamp to your external electric meter (digital or analog AMR, AMI, and Smart Meters) and uses a censor to determine the speed and measurement of usage. It then transmits this measurement to the PowerCost Monitor inside.

The whole thing can be installed in about 20 minutes, including the software setup.

The PowerCost Monitor can not only tell you how much electricity you’ve been using, but how much it will cost you come billing time. You can call your electric company or look for a detailed rate card included in with your monthly statement. Some companies have tiered pricing, and this device supports varied rates.

So, other than double-checking your bill, what makes something like this worthwhile? Well, by seeing exactly how much electricity your drawing can help you determine a plan of action to lower your monthly electric bill. Turning off lights, using fans, changing your thermostat settings, and other various cost-saving methods can be put to the test with this real-time monitor.

The range between the transmitter and the receiver is 30 meters (100 feet), which is long enough to reach nearly completely across most houses. It doesn’t take up much space at all. The PowerCost Monitor will not work with net metering applications such as wind and solar, or on a business meter that uses demand pricing.

In the southern US, the largest component of your yearly energy cost is air conditioning. Often, summer-time electric bills can double and even triple due to the energy required to cool most homes. A device like this can keep you informed and let you know what to expect come the end of your billing cycle. More importantly, it can help you discover the settings that work best for you and your budget.