Review: TechRestore

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Date: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 09:10
Category: Review

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By Robert Kaneko
This review is going to be slightly different for me. Instead of reviewing a product, I am looking at a service. I think that’s important to note, since any time you are looking at a service, there is a very human element to the experience.
TechRestore is a company that specializes in repairs for mobile electronic devices. They do more than that, but my impression is that their primary focus is repairing items like iPods, iPhones, gaming devices and laptops. They are also an advertiser here on the PowerPage. In fact, that’s how I found them, and I’m glad I did.
My ten-year-old son is a gadget junkie. He loves cell phones, Nintendos, laptops and other electronic devices. When I bought an iPod Touch, he couldn’t get enough of the experience. He saved for almost a year, and when the iPod Touch 2nd generation was released, he bought one for himself. That was about three months ago and he’s spent almost every day since playing with it. Interestingly, he has yet to put any music on it. He uses it to surf the Internet, handle his email and watch YouTube videos. Last week, he downloaded Text Free and my SMS inbox has never been the same. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
About three weeks ago, my son’s iPod Touch went swimming. It was a devastating moment in our house. I tried the trick of putting the iPod in a bag of dry rice. I do think that helped to leech the water out of the unit, but it wouldn’t recover. After a fair amount of research, we decided to look into the possibility of repairing the existing unit instead of buying a new one.
Enter TechRestore.
Being a long-time reader of the Powerpage, I’ve seen the banner ads for TechRestore for years. As with most ads on most sites, I’ve pretty much ignored them. This time I didn’t. The PowerPage got a click-through from me and I got sent to Tech Restore’s web site.
Click the jump for the full review…

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Canadian iPhone Subscribers Cite Rogers Wireless Overcharges

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Date: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 08:44
Category: iPhone

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A number of Canadian iPhone subscribers have cited being overcharged for their data usage according to an article on MacNN, Per the notes received the Rogers Wireless initial data plan for the iPhone 3G, which retails for CAN$30 per month, may have been revoked. In one case, a bill for “hundreds of dollars” was received, a result of the original data plan having mysteriously disappeared from his account.
The problem is allegedly widespread amongst Rogers iPhone customers, and believed to be connected to alterations of a person’s account, such as a change in address or phone number. Given that the promotional code for the CAN$30/6GB plan no longer exists, discounts may simply be evaporating as accounts are recreated. Users who signed up for the CAN$30 price were originally promised that it would persist throughout their three-year contract.
Calls to Rogers’ support staff has apparently been unable to fix this problem and representatives may have chose to push iPhone account holders to more expensive plans while compensating with account credit. The 6GB plan itself only came into existence after a large Internet petition highlighted the impracticality of proposed tiers.
If you’re north of the border and have seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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AT&T Officials Slip Details About Next-Gen iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 08:56
Category: iPhone

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One of more AT&T senior officials may have reportedly revealed important details about the next-generation iPhone handset, including a June release and boosted speed specs.
According to Boy Genius Report, an AT&T official was quoted as stating that a formal unveiling for the new handset will occur in mid-June and that the mid-year update is “becoming a tradition” at AT&T.
While it’s not quite known how familiar the management-level source (or sources) might be with what’s contained in the new iPhone, a distinct pattern in the remarks centers on the speed of the handset. According to the remarks, the next model “will be faster” and may well support AT&T’s planned upgrade to 7.2Mbps 3G scheduled for this year.
AT&T is reportedly eager to demonstrate the advantages of a new handset and upgraded network. Per the comment, customers should buy a smartphone from AT&T based on their personal tastes and that “the gap in credibility should be filled” with the new release.
It’s currently unclear as to which specific features will find their way into the next generation and the iPhone OS 3.0 release has left a wide amount of room for speculation. Others have stated that the changes will also apply to older iPhone models.
The statements also echo AT&T’s vision of integration with TV services and claim an iPhone app is in development that would let users steer the video recorders for AT&T’s U-verse digital TV.
The mention of a June schedule also isn’t exclusive to AT&T; UAE provider Etisalat matter-of-factly stated that it would get the next iPhone in June.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments or forums.

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Cha-Ching Touch Comes to the App Store

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Date: Monday, March 23rd, 2009, 17:28
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, Software

It was a long wait, but it’s finally here. The mobile version of Midnight Apps’ finance tracking app is now available on the App Store for $ 2.99 as of Saturday night. Partially coinciding with the 2.0 release of the popular desktop software, the new iPhone app will sync accounts and data with the 2.0 version allowing mobile expense entry, or can be used for stand-alone expense management on the iPhone.
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The 2.0 version of Cha-Ching Desktop is on the Midnight App web site as a public beta. Recent builds have added the ability to sync to the iPhone app. I have not had a chance to put Cha-Ching Touch to the test, but I have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity for some time. My checkbook, to put it simply, is a complete mess. Not even Quicken could help me, although they haven’t made it easy either. Cha-Ching was originally released as the “Quicken killer” and I wanted to give it a chance since it seemed to have a nice, Mac-like interface, and I liked it’s simplicity. The hardest part for me is staying on top of entering my expenses so that my balances are in sync with my bank account. Bus commutes are the ideal time to catch up with this busy-work, and allow me to be more efficient with my travel time. I’m really hoping Cha-Ching Touch helps me do that.
It seemed like the app wasn’t going to make it to the App Store for a while. I have been following the Midnight Apps Twitter feed (@Midnight_Apps) since the announcement that they submitted the app to Apple, and waited along with many frustrated people (including the Midnight Apps folks) as over a week went by before word was finally received late Saturday, March 21st, that the app was approved and due in the App Store “at any moment”. Apparently the app fell into that 2% that Apple wasn’t getting reviewed in 7 days or less.
The data sync seemed to go without a hitch, although I did have to FINALLY update my iPhone’s firmware since Cha-Ching Touch requires 2.2.1. I’ll let you know how the app fares after I have some time to work with it.

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Apple Drops iPhone Bluetooth Headset from Online Storefront

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Date: Monday, March 23rd, 2009, 13:30
Category: Accessory, iPhone

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Apple apparently stopped selling its official Bluetooth headset for the iPhone, as noted by MacNN today. Although the product’s page still exists over on the Apple Store, the company has marked the device as “discontinued”.
The headset, which was launched along with the original iPhone in June of 2007, dropped in price from US$129 to US$99 in 2008, while also losing its bundled dual-dock.
Though exact reasons for the disappearance are unknown, this could be connected to future iPhone hardware changes, especially those tied in with the recently-announced iPhone OS 3.0 firmware — and possibly iPod touches — that are expected to gain full Bluetooth functionality in the summer. Though the current iPhone technically supports Bluetooth 2.0, it does not allow stereo audio, nor does it support many of the advanced data functions possible on other cellphones.
Apple may intend to introduce a new generation of headset at the same time as a new iPhone, incorporating stereo and more advanced controls.
If you have any ideas on this, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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Intel Readying Ultra-Low-Voltage Processors for Ultraportable Notebooks

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Date: Monday, March 23rd, 2009, 08:33
Category: Processors

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Processor giant Intel reaffirmed on Friday that the company is readying a new series of new ultra-low-voltage chips, due in the second quarter, for inexpensive ultraportable notebooks.
According to Macworld UK, the company will ship the ULV chips as part of its Montevina Plus mobile laptop platform, an updated version of the existing Montevina platform, a fact confirmed by company spokeswoman Connie Brown.
The processors could be used in small, thin notebooks and provide the same level of functionality as notebooks priced above US$1,500.
Notebooks currently based on Intel’s ULV chips could be as thin as Apple’s MacBook Air or Dell’s recently launched Adamo, with prices ranging between US$599 and US$1,299.
Intel’s new series could fit into smaller spaces and use less power than the existing Core 2 Duo ULV line, which uses about 10 watts of power and is generally found in ultraportable notebooks such as Apple’s MacBook Air.
Intel’s Montevina Plus platform also will offer new chips running as fast as 3.06GHz, for mainstream notebooks priced between $399 and $1,499.
The company’s Montevina Plus is likely to be Intel’s most important update to its laptop platforms before the company starts shipping its new Arrandale chips for laptops later this year. The Arrandale chips will be manufactured using a 32-nanometer process and integrate a graphics processor and CPU in one chip, which could boost graphics performance while drawing less power than existing Core 2 processors. The Arrandale chips are also expected to be more energy-efficient, which could improve notebook battery life.
Expected clock speeds on Arrandale processors should be similar to processors used in existing laptops while offering better performance by running applications through more threads while drawing less power.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments or forums.

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Rumor: Apple Seems Likely to Add Video Recording Features to Next-Gen iPhone

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Date: Monday, March 23rd, 2009, 07:40
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Apple seems certain to add video recording capabilities in the next iPhone hardware revision per a source close to AppleInsider.
Though the details are currently limited, there is no suggestion of current hardware being able to support video recording. Given this fact, only an upgraded iPhone with a new built-in camera should support the feature. The source stated that the new revision is expected between late spring and early fall this year and could add video support and improved gaming hardware via multi-core PowerVR chips as the headlining features.
Oddly enough, a screen capture from the forthcoming iPhone Software 3.0 on Engadget’s website shows a MobileMe panel for uploading images titled “Upload Video,” thereby adding strength to the rumor.
An additional rumor has speculated that faster iPhone internet speeds are en route, AT&T confirming that the company currently has HSPA 3G peaking at 7.2 megabits per second, twice the current speed of the network. The extra speed would help to handle video transmissions via iPhone handsets.
A final rumor has stated that Apple will release a new iPhone App called “Movies” which will offer rudimentary video editing similar to the new “Voice Memos” iPhone app that Apple recently previewed. The software would allow for sharing video via e-mail and MMS messaging.
Even so, Apple may only offer the video capabilities as a premium feature only on a high-end model when it releases new iPhones this summer. References to four different multi-touch handheld products which were found in the new iPhone 3.0 software beta seem to indicate two distinct model lines, possibly one with video capability and one lacking the feature.
Stay tuned for details as they emerge and please let us know if you’ve heard anything on your end in the comments or forums

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AT&T to Begin Selling Contract-Free iPhones in U.S. Next Week

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Date: Friday, March 20th, 2009, 08:48
Category: iPhone

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Recently, wireless carrier AT&T announced that it would begin selling contract-free iPhones in the United States beginning next week.
According to Boy Genius Report, the price works out to be more expensive than that of buying a subsidized iPhone with a two-year contract, paying the subscription for a month, canceling the plan and paying the early termination fee.
The phone, including the activation fee, would retail at US$599 for the 8GB model and US$699 for the 16GB model.
“This is simply another way AT&T customers can experience iPhone 3G on the nation’s fastest 3G network,” AT&T said in a statement.
Existing AT&T customers – the only people who can buy the contract-less phones – are eligible to purchase an iPhone at a subsidized price based on the amount of time left on their contract and their payment history. In many cases, these users fare better by waiting until they become eligible for a subsidized iPhone with a two-year contract.
There currently seems to be a “one per customer” limit tied in with the offer.
AT&T’s current cheapest plan retails for US$70 a month, including voice and data access.
iPhones without contracts have been available in some European countries. AT&T has long said that it would sell iPhones without contracts but until now had not said when.
If you’re looking into picking up a contract-free iPhone, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments or forums.

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Mozilla Releases Thunderbird 2.0.0.21

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Date: Friday, March 20th, 2009, 08:22
Category: Software

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Mozilla.org, creators of the Firefox web browser, has just released version 2.0.0.21 of Thunderbird, its free e-mail client. The new program, an 18.7 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

  • Upgrade PNG library to fix memory safety hazards
  • XML data theft via RDFXMLDataSource and cross-domain redirect
  • Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:1.9.0.7)
  • Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:1.9.0.6)
  • Thunderbird 2.0.0.21 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later to run and is programmed as a Universal Binary, allowing for native speeds on both PowerPC and Intel-based hardware.
    As always, if you’ve played with the new version and have any feedback, positive or negative, let us know.

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    Elgato Releases Turbo.264 HD Video Converter

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    Date: Friday, March 20th, 2009, 08:00
    Category: Accessory

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    Accessory provider Elgato announced the release of its new Turbo.264 HD video converter on Thursday. The USB hardware converter can convert HD and AVCHD content into a wide range of standard and HD video formats.
    Users can then edit movies before copying them from a camera, splice movies together, and download movies to your Mac or YouTube account. Turbo.264 HD supports AVCHD Video, QuickTime, AVI, DV, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 Program/Transport Stream, MPEG-4, MP4, M4V, H.263, H.264 AVC, Xvid, VIDEO_TS and more. It also includes a QuickTime component that improves H.264 exporting for other applications including Apple’s iMovie.
    The Turbo.264 HD retails for US$149.99 and requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later to run.
    If you have a hardware converter of choice, let us know in the comments or forums.

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