Thursday, May 31, 2012

OmniVision's 12.7-megapixel OV12830 can shoot 24 fps photo bursts from your smartphone

OmniVision's 12.7-megapixel OV12830 can shoot 24 fps photo bursts from your smartphone

ImageOmniVision has been on a bit of a tear introducing new mobile camera sensors this week, and its newest could well have the biggest impact on smartphones in the next year. The OV12830's 12.7 megapixels don't make it as dense as the 16-megapixel sensors we've seen, but it makes up for that with some mighty fast still photography. As long as the attached phone can handle it, the CMOS sensor can snap full-resolution photos at 24 frames per second, or the kind of relentless shooting speed that would make One X and Galaxy S III fans happy. The same briskness musters 1080p video at 60 fps, even with stabilization thrown in. Production won't start until the fall and likely rules out a flood of 12.7-megapixel phones and tablets until 2013, but the OV12830's dead-on match for the size of current 8-megapixel sensors gives it a good shot at becoming ubiquitous -- and guarantees that phones won't need a giant hump on the back for a higher resolution.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Which iPhone Carrier Is the Best in Your City?

NEW YORK -- The myth: You're getting five bars on your cell phone, so you're getting good service, right? The reality: It's way more complicated than that.

The answer to a very simple question -- "What's the best cell phone carrier in my area?" -- depends on a tangled web of factors, including the network's download speed, response time, signal strength, and the number of cell towers in your area.

You'll feel the effects of those factors. You'll notice the network's speed and stability when you browse the Web, download apps, stream music or buffer streaming video.

iPhone $60 mo - Unlimited talk/text/pics 2 GB of Data @

Carriers don't generally share any information about those metrics with the public. That means real network performance data and carrier comparisons have been almost impossible to calculate.
Source: SwayMarkets

Until now.

With the help of Boston-based startup SwayMarkets and its CarrierCompare iPhone app, CNNMoney gained exclusive access to real, user-generated network data.

CarrierCompare, released in April, allows iPhone users to see their network's speed and response time and contrast it with the other two major iPhone networks. SwayMarkets analyzed the 3G network data generated by CarrierCompare users in Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Get ready for a few surprises.

AT&T: As advertised, AT&T (T) has the fastest 3G network: Its median speed was the highest in each of the six cities SwayMarkets measured. That's what you'd expect. AT&T's network technology has considerably higher top speeds than that of Verizon or Sprint -- in theory, at least.

That's the headline. The full story is much murkier.

AT&T delivers the most inconsistent experience, with speeds varying wildly depending on the time of day, SwayMarkets found. When the network gets more congested in the afternoon hours, download speeds become more of a crapshoot. Sometimes they're excellent, but usually they're just mediocre.

SwayMarkets also found that AT&T's network speeds do not come remotely close to what the company advertises.

AT&T labels its enhanced 3G service as "4G," but it's not the same as its far faster 4G-LTE service. The company says its enhanced 3G service -- the one it brands as "4G" -- offers a "smoother, more consistent 4G experience overall" than Verizon's.

AT&T likes to point out that Verizon's network has a steep drop off in speed when users downshift from 4G to 3G. Yet network congestion makes the drop-off from true 4G to enhanced 3G ("4G") on AT&T's network just about as steep as its rivals.

We ran these findings past AT&T. "While we haven't reviewed the data, there are always puts and takes in these types of surveys," a representative replied.

We've posted the full response from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in our blog.

Verizon: Verizon's speeds were second-fastest in every city but New York, where it was third. Big Red came closest to AT&T in Washington and Boston, where Verizon's 3G speeds were 72% as fast as AT&T. It was farthest from the mark in Chicago, where it was half as fast.

But, as with AT&T, speed only tells part of the story. Verizon's network delivers a more consistent experience than AT&T's, with speeds varying less hour by hour.

Verizon (VZ) also has by far the quickest network response time, meaning that Web pages begin loading faster than on any other network after a user clicks on a link. Verizon's network starts churning in half the time it takes AT&T's to respond, and often about a third of the time it takes Sprint's network.

That makes Verizon's network feel much faster, even if its actual speeds are slower than AT&T's.

SwayMarkets also found that Verizon has stronger signal strength than either of its competitors.

That can actually be a pretty inconsequential metric. So long as a user has at least one bar, the strength won't really affect download speeds.

iPhone $60 mo - Unlimited talk/text/pics 2 GB of Data @ 

But more bars does imply that Verizon has more cell towers in cities, giving consumers more access points to connect to. That results in more consistent data speeds and, often, in better voice clarity.

Sprint: Sprint's network speeds clocked in last in every city but New York, and it wasn't even close.

Sprint's 3G network offered speeds of less than a third of AT&T's network in Chicago and Los Angeles. By far its best speed performance is in New York, where its median speed was three-quarters that of AT&T.

The carrier's response times were also quite slow, often taking nearly three times longer than Verizon to start loading content. Sprint's network lag was the greatest in all six cities.

Yet Sprint (S) offered by far the most consistent experience, with speeds rarely deviating more than 25% from the median. Sprint's signal strength was roughly comparable with Verizon's in four of the six cities, and it was always better than AT&T's.

The winner: AT&T is the clear speed winner.

Yet the crowd-sourced data collected by SwayMarkets' indicates that Verizon is the overall top performer. It's generally the best at getting users connected to its network and responding to requests, and its throughput (speed and consistency) are pretty good.

The networks, which do their own field testing of their own and rivals' networks, had their own views on SwayMarkets' data. None were particularly surprised by the conclusions. Our blog has the full text of their responses.

Here's the key takeaway from SwayMarkets' data dive: If you're thinking about which carrier is right for you, there's a lot more than bars to consider.

By David Goldman | - 5-30-12

Paperless Payphone: Doxo Now Lets You Receive & Pay Bills From Your Mobile Device

Since launching in mid-2011, doxo has been on a mission to make your life paperless. With its “digital filing cabinet” software, the Seattle-based startup aims to create a single place for users to manage their bills, be they phone, cable, or credit card.
Of course, the world is quickly going mobile, and payment solutions are going right along with it. So, in an effort to close the loop between web and mobile services, Doxo is today launching a new mobile payment and management solution, along with a new Android app, to finally allow users to both receive and pay bills from their mobile devices.
Doxo’s new Android app complements the updatediOS app the startup launched last summer so that the pair of apps now allow users to take advantage of mobile bill payment and management on top of its flagship “digital file cabinet” and secure backup offerings.
Both apps now include the startup’s new so-called “doxoPAY,” a feature that allows users to receive and pay bills with one account and one password from a single app. This means that you no longer have to set up separate usernames and access credentials to manage payment accounts across multiple websites, instead, you can simply create a free Doxo account to start organizing your household accounts and docs, connecting with service providers that include AT&T, Sprint, Puget Sound Energy, and Sound Community Bank — to name a few.
The startup is currently hard at work on expanding this list, signing up as many banks, public utilities, and major phone and cable carriers as it can. Obviously, while the value proposition is evident, for Doxo to truly become your default digital file cabinet and bill payment solution, it has to be integrated with all the providers you’re using. That’s half the battle, and it still has a ways to go there.
That being said, Doxo has the potential to significantly mitigate a huge pain in the ass for consumers. For most people, whether you receive bills electronically or in good old paper form, payment is a three step process: Read the bill when and wherever you receive it, open it again when you’re ready to pay, and then file through another system. Doxo’s mobile payment solution condenses that down to a single step by embedding payment options in the bill itself.

Users simply connect with their providers to pay bills, directly on Doxo Mobile, receiving bills from those providers while uploading documents and bills from home or on the go, with the added benefit of being able to manage, upload, and organize account information, important documents, and bills by account. Plus, you can use the apps to snap photos and upload bills and receipts into Doxo’s digital filing cabinet, while automatically backing up those critical documents to their hard drive or cloud providers like and Dropbox.
On the flip side, for businesses, Doxo is trying to eliminate the hurdles most often cited by consumers in regard to going paperless. Not only that, but it can streamline and reduce the additional costs inherent to most customer-provider interaction by speeding collection, cutting credit card fees (like overdue payments), and make it easy to go paperless. Which, for businesses, can mean eliminating the need for custom software — or having to develop their own standalone app.
According to Doxo CEO Steve Shivers, this translates to businesses saving an average of 80 percent on the cost of mailing documents, bills, and accepting payments. And, of course, the best part is that, because Doxo saves businesses money on paper, its mobile apps are free for the consumer — and available in the App StoreGoogle Play, and the Amazon App Store.
Founded in 2008, Doxo seemed to miss the memo on the whole “ship or die” approach, taking its sweet time to go to market, testing and developing for over two years before finally coming out of invite-only beta last summer. Better safe (and market ready) than sorry. Of course, it also helps one’s slow and steady method when there’s $15 million in venture funding from Sigma Partners, Mohr Davidow, and Jeff Bezos to fall back on. - RIP EMPSON - 5-29-12

Launch Date:2008
doxo is pioneering the way for people and providers to connect and go paperfree, breaking customer adoption barriers and saving businesses millions of dollars in printing, paper, and postage costs. The company has partnerships with national and regional service providers, who promote doxo as a new paperless option for their customers. doxo investors include top-tier venture partners Mohr Davidow Ventures and Bezos Expeditions. The company is led by executives who have driven businesses that have scaled to serve tens...

Thursday, May 10, 2012