Day: February 5, 2014

You’ll soon have nowhere to run from the phablet revolution

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Do you hate giant-sized smartphones? Well too bad — it’s increasingly looking like they’re the future of mobile computing. Bob O’Donnell’s TECHnalysis Research has come out with some new data projecting that phablets such as the Galaxy Note 3 and the Nokia Lumia 1520 will become increasingly popular in the coming years and are set to surpass shipments of notebooks and desktops this year alone. In fact, phablets are proving to be so popular that O’Donnell projects that they’ll even eclipse total tablet shipments by 2017.

Essentially, O’Donnell thinks that phablets hit a terrific sweet spot for many consumers: They’re cheaper to buy than large tablets and yet they have large enough screens to be used as a primary computing device as well as a telephone. For many consumers who don’t want to own or who can’t afford multiple devices, then, a phablet might just be the perfect fit since it can provide for so many different needs.

TECHnalysis’s press release follows below.

TECHnalysis Research Forecasts Seismic Device Shift as Large Smartphones Expected to Outsell Small Tablets and Notebooks in 2014

Total Smart Connected Devices to Peak in 2017 as Saturation and Longer Lifetimes Slow Growth

Foster City, CA, February 3, 2014:  TECHnalysis Research, LLC announced the release of its first market forecast highlighting the dramatic changes happening in the world of smart connected devices. Specifically, the firm believes that worldwide unit shipments for the large smartphone category (those with screen sizes of 5” or larger—commonly called “phablets” but perhaps better termed “mobile connected devices”) will reach just over 240 million units in 2014 versus 173 million notebooks and 158 million small tablets (those with screen sizes between 7-8”). The total market for smart connected devices is expected to grow from 1.54 billion units in 2013 to 2.06 billion in 2018, but that’s a small drop from the peak of 2.07 billion in 2017.

“Even the hottest device categories can’t keep growing forever,” commented TECHnalysis Research founder and chief analyst Bob O’Donnell, “and we believe the slowdowns that have started to occur in the US and other developed regions will start to impact the developing regions by the end of the forecast period.”

Looking at the results by category shows that PC shipments are expected to continue their decline for the next few years, but then level out in the 292 million unit range by 2016. Tablets are expected to continue growing throughout the forecast period, but will see very modest single-digit growth rates in the final years of the forecast, ending in shipments of 339 million in 2018. Smartphones are forecast to peak in 2017 at around 1.44 billion units but then slip to 1.43 billion in 2018. The big story in smartphones, however, is the move to larger sizes as TECHnalysis Research predicts approximately one of three smartphones shipping worldwide in 2018 will have a 5” screen or larger.

In the US, the total market for smart connected devices is also expected to peak in 2017 at a volume of nearly 279 million units, but starting in 2015 year-over-year growth rates will fall to under 2%, leading to a relatively stagnant level of unit shipments. US PC shipments will hover in the 58 million unit range starting in 2015, while tablets will grow from 58 million units in 2013 to nearly 74 million in 2018. Smartphone shipments are expected to peak in 2016 at 149 million units and then drop to 145 million units in 2018, although all of that decline will be in smaller smartphones (those with screens under 5”), as the larger smartphone category will grow through the forecast period and reach 30% of all US smartphone shipments in 2018.

Some of the other highlights from the forecast include:

  • Android-based smart connected device shipments will hit 1.1 billon this year, but Android’s share of the total will also peak in 2014 at 62.5% and then decline modestly over the forecast period.
  • Apple’s overall share of smart connected devices is forecast to hit 19.7% by 2018 while Microsoft’s share will be 19%.
  • The US share of total worldwide Smart Connected Device shipments will fall from a peak of 22.6% in 2010 to 13.5% in 2018.
  • Revenues for US-based sales of Smart Connected Devices are expected to continuously decline throughout the 5-year forecast from their peak in 2013 due to slowing growth and lower prices.

The TECHnalysis Research forecast offers a 5-year forward-looking view into unit shipments, average selling prices and revenues both worldwide and in the US for PCs, tablets and smartphones. The forecast also breaks the numbers out by form factor within each group (e.g., small tablets vs. large tablets), by consumer and commercial splits, and by operating system.

“We are in the midst of a dramatic recasting of the entire market for devices,” said O’Donnell. “In fact, you could argue it’s leading to a complete redefinition of what computing is, what computing means and where computing happens. As a result of these changes, there will likely be enormous shifts in power and influence across vendors, across ecosystems and across geographical regions. It’s safe to say that the world of computing and intelligent devices will look very different in 5 years compared to what it is today.”


Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 revisits the FCC with AT&T-capable LTE

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You might not have to sign up with Verizon to buy a cellular edition of Samsung’s Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 in the US. The gargantuan tablet has returned to the FCC, only this time in a variant with AT&T-native LTE and HSPA+ frequency support; it can also handle the big three Canadian carriers. The slate is otherwise much like its Verizon counterpart, although the absence of T-Mobile 3G means that the UnCarrier likely won’t be selling this model, if it sells the Note Pro at all. There’s also no certainty of an AT&T launch, but we can’t imagine that Samsung repeated the FCC approval process just for laughs.



Google’s Nexus 5 is now available in bright red

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If you like the Nexus 5 but think its just a bit too subdued for your tastes, you’ll be happy to hear that Google has just released an extremely bright red version of the marquee Android smartphone. The new color has been rumored for a while, and now it’s a reality. It’s the third color option, behind black and white, and it’s available now on Google Play. The company suggests that you “show off your personality” with the new color scheme, and that’s putting it mildly. Just about everyone on the subway will see when you pull this smartphone out of your pocket. Like the white version of the smartphone, the accent color is featured in the earpiece on the front of the device. The price remains the same: $349 for 16GB and $399 for 32GB, unlocked.

Update: LG says in a press release that the red Nexus 5 is available in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Korea. “Wider availability across Europe” is expected by the end of February.


7 Ways to Cut the Cost of Cable TV

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Haven’t cut the cable cord yet in favor of free or low-cost Internet TV options? You’re not alone. The majority of Americans still watch TV through traditional paid cable services, according to media market research company Nielsen.

SEE ALSO: How to Wipe Out 33 Pesky Fees

Unfortunately, as you know, cable TV can be pricey. But you can keep the cost of watching your favorite shows and movies under control with these seven strategies.

1. Trim back on channels. Do you really need hundreds of channels? You’re probably not even watching most of them, so you can save big by switching from a premium cable package to a basic package. I cut my cable bill by $80 a month when I did this. Basic packages tend to include the major networks, ESPN, Disney, Nickelodeon and many other popular channels. What you lose, primarily, are the movie channels. To replace them at a much lower cost, you can sign up for a movie streaming service such as Netflix for $7.99 a month or VUDU for as little as $2 a movie. Or you can rent DVDs for $1 a night from Redbox kiosks.

2. Keep up with promotions. Cable companies are constantly adding promotions to attract new customers, but current customers often can take advantage of these deals, too, says consumer expert Andrea Woroch. She recommends calling your cable company or checking its Web site every six months to find out whether it’s offering any promotions, such as free movie channels. When you’re asking about promotions, also find out whether your cable company offers discounts if you sign up for paperless statements or automated payments.

3. Evaluate feature usage. Woroch says that many consumers sign up for full-feature cable packages that include cable boxes in every room, along with DVR function and other bells and whistles. However, she says that you probably don’t need a cable box in the guest bedroom that rarely gets used, nor do your school-aged children need DVR capabilities. The monthly fees for these extras might seem minimal, but eliminating them can amount to savings of up to $100 or more over the course of a year.

4. Buy an antenna. For $40, you can buy an HDTV antenna, such as the Mohu Leaf, to get access to local channels. Woroch says they’re great options for people who want to reduce their cable bill by limiting the number of cable boxes they have. You can hook the antenna up to that guest room TV so visitors have something to watch or the kitchen TV that you just turn on to watch the news while making dinner. Woroch recommends looking online to find the best prices for HDTV antennas and looking for retailers’ coupon codes to get an even better deal.

5. Turn off cable equipment when not in use. You can lower the overall cost of having cable TV — not just your cable bill — by turning off cable receivers, DVRs and other related equipment when these electronics are not in use. Connect them all to a power strip that you can turn off with one switch. Woroch says that you can save $40 a year per cable box by doing this.

6. Threaten to leave. Check with other cable providers or satellite TV providers in your area to see if they have packages or promotions at prices that beat what you’re currently paying. If so, then ask your cable company whether it’s willing to match a competitor’s price. Be sure to speak with a supervisor, who has more power to make changes to your plan and bill. If you threaten to switch to another provider, Woroch says you’ll likely find that your cable company has some great offers to share with you. By sticking with your current company at a lower rate, you can avoid setup fees with a new provider.

7. Switch to satellite TV. You might find that you can get all the channels you want at a lower price with a satellite TV provider. For example, Dish Network’s cheapest plan is $19.99 a month versus $39.99 for Comcast’s basic cable TV plan. The two major satellite companies, Dish Network and DirecTV, often have promotions for a free satellite dish and installation. Worried that switching to satellite TV means giving up local channels? There’s a good chance you won’t have to. Both Dish Network and DirecTV provide local channels in most locations.

Final note: Cable, satellite and telecom companies advertise bundles of services — TV, Internet and phone — as a way to save money. You’ll see discounts on Internet and phone services in these packages, but bundling doesn’t usually lower the cost of TV services. And there are better ways to save on the other services, Woroch says. For example, you could drop your landline and use your cell phone only, use free or low-cost VoIP services such as Skype or Vonage, or make free calls using the Ooma Telo device.


70-inch: Sharp LC-70LE650U

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This Sharp 650U, originally priced at $2,500, strikes the right balance between cost and quality, Katzmaier says. Like other smart TVs, it has built-in Wi-Fi so you can stream movies, listen to Pandora or other music services, browse the Web or check Facebook and other social media sites. You can link your smart phone or tablet with it to share content and use your smart device as a remote. It also has a wallpaper mode that allows you to display artwork or photos from a USB drive so you don’t have to stare at a big black screen when you’re not actually watching TV. The slightly smaller 60-inch Sharp 650U also is a good deal now ($997.99 at, down from $1,197.99) and is on’s top-ten best HDTVs list.

Online only price: $1697.99 at See current price.


60-inch: Panasonic TC-P60VT60

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This Panasonic costs as much the 70-inch Sharp listed below, but it’s one of the best TVs CNET has ever reviewed, Katzmaier says. also says that it’s one of the best plasma TVs Panasonic has produced and places it on its top-ten list. Talk about bells and whistles: This 3-D HDTV has a built-in camera, built-in media player, voice control and built-in Wi-Fi so you can stream movies and browse the Web. It’s the picture quality, though, that makes this plasma TV stand out from the pack, Ramirez says. Panasonic has stopped making plasma TVs. So any bargain you can find on one of Panasonic’s highly rated plasmas is a good deal, he says. It’s on clearance at Best Buy, which has marked down the price by $500.

For $1,000 less, we found a quality Vizio E601i-A3 marked down to $800 from $1,000 at Target. You won’t get the same picture quality as with the Panasonic, but you’ll get a big TV for a much smaller price.

$1799.86, See current price.


55-inch: Vizio M551d-A2R

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This 55-inch Vizio 3-D HDTV, originally priced at $1,200, is a steal below $1,000. lists it as one of the top ten best TVs because of its quality and price. Katzmaier calls it one of the best-performing LED TVs for the money. It’s a thin 1.75 inches, has sleek styling, built-in WiFi, and eight pairs of 3-D glasses, which is rare for any 3-D TV, Ramirez says. And it is selling at $700 less than all but the best 55-inch TVs from Samsung and Sony.

$998 on See current price.


51-inch: Samsung PN51F5500

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Amazon has lowered its price on this 3-D plasma TV by 41%. Its excellent smart TV package and great picture quality (in all but the brightest rooms) make this Samsung a good buy, Katzmaier says. It comes with two pairs of 3-D glasses, voice interaction, a touch pad remote, and multiple connectivity options including Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth.

$797.99 at See current price.


47-inch: Vizio E470i-A0

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This HDTV series comes in a range of sizes, and Katzmaier says that they all are great bargains considering the level of picture quality they deliver. Although this Vizio smart TV is missing sports apps such as MLB.TV, it has a good selection of on-demand services and social media including Netflix, Vudu, Skype, Facebook and Pandora. For a similar-sized TV at a much lower price, the 42-inch Sharp LC-42LB150U is on sale at Best Buy for $399.99. However, this TV doesn’t have the smart features that the Vizio does.

$578 on See current price.


32-inch: Samsung UN32F5500

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This is one of the best 32-inch HDTVs at this price level for several reasons, says Katzmaier, who developed CNET’s TV test procedure. It offers solid picture quality and has a higher display resolution than many of the cheaper models (1080p versus 720p). This LED model also has Samsung’s Smart TV suite, whereas the similar but cheaper UNF5000 series does not. The “smart” designation means that it has built-in Wi-Fi and allows access to on-demand video streaming from services such as Netflix as well as access to social media, music and more. senior editor Louis Ramirez says that 32-inch TVs generally don’t come with as many features as this model. Even better, he says, it has three HDMI ports, which means you can connect more components to it, whereas cheaper TVs in this size category typically have only two HDMI ports. The current Amazon sale price is about 40% lower than its list price of $579.

$347.99, on See current price.