Which is a Better Value: Insignia Flex or Kindle Fire HD?

Which is a Better Value: Insignia Flex or Kindle Fire HD?Last week I stopped by our local Best Buy store to take a look at the tablet computers it had on display. No matter if you are a Best Buy fan or not, you will have to agree that the company has a wide offering of electronic products for viewing, compared to other brick and mortar electronic retailers. I personally have found Best Best an asset for researching products, trying the products before buying, and to give me a feel as to how a product feels in my hand prior to ordering the product online.

While looking through the assortment of tablet computers, I spotted an Insignia Flex, which is a tablet made specifically for Best Buy. I stopped to examine the tablet computer, which has a 9.7″ form factor, housing a dual core 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, a resolution of 1024 x 768, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, front-facing 2.0 MP webcam, 8 GB storage, and a micro-SD slot for added storage. In addition, the Insignia Flex comes preinstalled with Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich and a price tag of $249. (At the time of this writing, Best Buy is offering the Insignia Flex on sale for $229. This is a limited time offer.)

At this price point, The Insignia Flex is one of the lowest priced tablets in the 9″+ size category. The next closest tablet in this category is the Amazon Kindle HD, which is approximately 8.9″ in size, has a 1920 x 1200 display resolution, dual core 1.5 GHz processor, 16 GB of storage, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Dolby audio, but lacks a microSD slot. Priced at $299, the unit is approximately $50 to $70 more expensive than the Insignia Flex.

There was a time when buying a computer was a lot simpler. One either bought a system that used the Windows operating system, or one purchased a system from Apple. Personal computers using the Windows operating system were less expensive and gained in popularity. Today, with a variety of tablet computers from companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and others, the choice of which computer to purchase is more complicated.

We no longer can depend on pricing or specifications to be the primary reason for all we purchase. Instead, we now have to look at which ecosystem we want to use as our primary source for applications. The two main contenders, Apple and Google, each have their own operating systems that are distinctive and separate. Inside of Google’s Android operating system are many variants and distinctions from which one must select.

In comparing the two tablets mentioned above, the Insignia Flex and the Kindle Fire HD, we can agree that the Kindle fire HD has the superior hardware and warrants the higher price. But a purchaser needs to consider not only pricing and hardware differences, but also the differences these tablets offer when it comes to operating systems. The Insignia Flex offers Google’s Android operating system and a user can install any application from Google’s Play Store. With the Kindle Fire HD, users are limited to applications provided by Amazon only.

When you purchase a tablet computer from any company, you need to be aware of the limitations that each of the ecosystems provide as well as their benefits. A purchaser entering into the tablet computer market must now consider price, size, hardware, and quality of build as well as the operating system.

I would recommend the purchase of the Kindle Fire HD over the Insignia Flex. I base this opinion on the better specifications, at a reasonable price, that the Kindle Fire HD offers.

What do you think?

Comments are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by appsmanila

Best Choice for a First Time Mac User

In an email, the question was raised what is the best Mac for a first-time buyer that just wants to do some basic web browsing, photo editing, and light video editing? While the biggest and most expensive models can accomplish these tasks very easily, let’s take a look at which options would best suit these needs.

The current line of Mac minis is capable of doing everything listed, even basic movie editing through iMovie, however, if you want a smooth experience with smooth multitasking, you’re probably best going with an iMac. The i3 processor is quick and responsive, even when dealing with 1080p video on iMovie. Having a capable monitor built-in is a big plus and in terms of value makes up a lot of the difference price-wise between the Mac mini and the iMac.

If you want to go with something more portable, the MacBook is a good budget choice for web browsing and photo editing but not recommended for video editing due to it’s underpowered processor and lower resolution display. A MacBook pro at a couple hundred dollars more will give you a powerful platform with a capable of handling quite a bit.

Here are some builds I think bring the best price for performance without being overkill for what you’re asking for:

iMac 21.5-inch: 3.06GHz ($1,199)
This is the base model iMac though the differences between it and the step up are minimal considering what you’re wanting to do with it.

Mac Mini 2.4 GHz: 320GB ($699)
One of the wonderful advantages to the Apple warranty is that you don’t have to have to buy or install additional RAM through them. A $100 upgrade to 4GB of memory can cost a fraction of that if you use quality after market RAM. See apple.com for spec requirements and installation instructions.

This particular model is the least powerful out of the suggested options, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re planning on doing a lot of full HD video editing, but it will handle basic tasks fairly easily. Make sure you have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse at the ready since they don’t come included with the Mac Mini.

13-inch MacBook Pro: 2.3GHz ($1,199)
The MacBook Pro combines a decent amount of performance with portability. The Core i5 processor is significantly faster than the one found on the MacBook and the Mac Mini. Even large external monitors will connect to the MacBook Pro without overwhelming the video processor.

As far as software goes, iMovie is a capable movie editing platform included with new Macs without any added cost. It works very well to do most basic tasks and encoding your final product can be done through QuickTime, also included, with decent quality.

Photo editing can be done on a very basic level through iPhoto, though if you would like a powerful alternative without adding to the price, try Gimp. Gimp is the open source answer to PhotoShop and includes a lot of great features.

How Much is Your Time Worth?

One of the greatest bosses I’ve ever had once told me, “You need to create the position you want for yourself. Dress for the job you want, and act on the job you want.” At the time, I didn’t appreciate exactly how valuable this advice was, but I took it to heart.

Like many bloggers out there, I have a full time job that takes care of my bills. By day I produce a radio show, film live internet television, write for a large website, and handle social media. This sounds like a lot, and it would be if I wasn’t passionate about being in the position to do these things.

For ten years before I went out for this job I did customer service. How I jumped from customer service to producing a nationally syndicated radio show was by donating my time to side projects that had me doing what I loved to do, create content.

In high school, I worked in FM radio as a disk jockey following in my mother’s footsteps. When I graduated high school and moved to Austin, I was saddened to discover that three years of work experience mattered little in an environment requiring a college degree to participate. This was upsetting and caused me to have to find work in a field outside of the one I loved. I started to seek work in a variety of areas and found it doing customer service for Sears. Three years later, the opportunity presented itself for me to work for Apple which put me in the area of technology, one of my passions, but still had me doing what I didn’t enjoy. The work was less boring, but still not what I really wanted to do.

That’s when I had to make a choice between doing what I love for free, or giving up the dream and just getting the bills paid. I continued to work in call centers landing a very steady job with the City of Austin for five years. During that time, I hosted radio shows on the internet for online stations like Rant Radio, Radio Akasha, and Gamer Powered Radio. The audiences on the latter two were small, no more than 100 listeners at any given point and the pay amounted to a dollar an hour at best. I also started a gaming blog where I could post reviews of games that I had played in hopes that it would grow to a point where I could turn it in to something full time. It was through these donated projects that I was able to convince the folks at Treet.TV to give me a shot producing machinima and helping their productions. This put me in the area of live streaming video, broadcast production, and machinima. Three things that I absolutely loved to do.

Like the other projects, this one was on the side during my off hours in addition to my full time job listening to people complain about high electric bills and city taxes. I utterly hated my day job though it was balanced with the fun and enjoyment of producing live internet television. Before long, my gaming blog became an internet TV show, and I had found an audience in the thousands. This became an accomplishment worthy of putting on my resume.

After a year of volunteering at Treet, I decided to send my resume out to some producer openings I found on Craigslist hoping that one of them might turn in to something. At the very least, I expected to find out whether or not the years I spent doing free media on the web would amount to any credibility when it came down to applying for a professional position.

To my utter surprise, I was offered a job as producer / director of a nationally syndicated radio show with an audience of about 2 million. This was made possible by nearly eight years of producing free content on the web. I’ve been doing what I love professionally now for over a year and still work on various side projects in order to position myself to move into the broadcast genre that I enjoy the most: technology.

So now I pose the question to you: what is your time worth?

Apple To Pass Microsoft In Value?

I had to read this one twice, as I found it so unlikely on so many levels. Now it’s true, that TechCrunch managed to present some pretty compelling data here. And that’s great. But the fact of the matter is that Apple limits itself so much that the only reason it’s seeing such tremendous growth, in my estimation, is because it tapped into something we know call the “app.”

iPads, iPhones, etc. are a vehicle to the app. And in many ways, apps are maintaining the financial growth that is seen doing big increases with each “iHandheld” release. To be completely fair, Apple is brilliant here. It has once again managed to reinvent the wheel and ensure that a new ecosystem of development could be born from the efforts of others.

Now the question is: will Apple actually be able to keep this pace of growth up? Will it eventually put Microsoft on notice with regard to outpacing it in value? Honest truth, while I am extremely skeptical, I will say that I don’t think it’s impossible. As Google has demonstrated, you don’t have to be a bit hit with desktop operating systems to put Microsoft on notice.

[awsbullet:woody cisco me]

Time Warner To CEO Investors – People Will Pay For Quality Content – Will You?

The CEO for Time Warner is telling investors that people will pay for quality content. Mr. Jeff Bewke stated to investors that:

“If you look at some of the more successful Internet versions — iPhones, iTunes, iStore, Amazon — people will pay for quality and convenience. It has to be a fair deal, though.”

What a refreshing ray of sunshine after having to listen to Rupert Murdoch rant and rave for the past few months. At last we have someone with an intelligent view of the real world, without finger pointing, and adding that ‘it has to be a fair deal.’ He is correct in his assumptions. I personally shop at Amazon and use their Prime shipping feature. I have found that most, but not ever deal, is priced fairly and their Prime shipping option makes it convenient to shop on line.

If you provide consumers with ‘value’ they will come. In a recent article Mr. Bewke also states:

TV Everywhere, a Time Warner and Comcast venture that is expected to provide TV shows online to cable subscribers, is “going to make it very easy for people to continue to do what they’re already doing, which is watching their favorite shows,” he said. It is expected to become available soon for some cable customers.

Mr. Bewkes said that when it launches, cable subscribers will be able to watch programs online, either through a channel or video provider’s site. “You’re free to get it from any source like that at this point that you want, so nothing’s linked.”

Since TV Everywhere’s users will already be paying for their cable service, he said, “the beauty of it, from an execution point of view, is that the billing system is already done.”

Certain issues, such as whether viewers will see the same ads when watching a show a week later, will “evolve” over time, Mr. Bewkes said. “What should not be a big issue is the fact that you paid for it, and so, therefore, you don’t have to pay again.”

WOW! I like the ‘you paid for it, and so, therefore. you don’t have to pay again.’ No matter what your feelings are about Comcast, this hopefully will provide Comcast customers with added value. We can all agree that adding value to any service is key to a successful business. Maybe the economic down turn will eventually provide consumers with added benefits.

What do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.

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Redbox DVD Rentals – Do They Undervalue The Movie?

Redbox DVD rental locations exceed over 15,000 locations. Movies are offered at the low price of only a $1 a day. Redbox locations are so popular that at some locations people are lining up and waiting to get their hands on the latest releases. But all of that may be coming to an end as several movies studios have ordered that newly released movies not be sold to the rental company.

In a recent news release it states the following information:

The kiosks are gaining popularity, but their price and ease of use aren’t winning over everyone. 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios have ordered wholesalers not to sell newly released DVDs to the rental company.

Unlike Blockbuster and Netflix, Redbox does not share profits from rentals with the major movie studios. But why should they?

The rental kiosks do not violate copyright law since they legally purchase the DVDs, and any form of unnecessary profit-sharing would certainly raise prices for consumers.

Upset by Redbox’s success, Fox and Universal are leaning on wholesalers who distribute their DVDs to cut ties with the rental company. Redbox has responded by suing the studios for anti-competitive practices and abusing copyright law.

I must agree with Redbox. This type of behavior by the studios is not in the best interest of the consumer. The studios are Communists who need to be dealt with severely! Power to the people. LOL

Comments welcome.

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JetBlue & United Use Twitter To Sell Airline Seats

Tweeting could get you a cheap seat on one of JetBlue or United flights and may fill up those seats that otherwise would go empty. Both airlines are trying what they call ‘cheeps’ to fill those empty seats at bargain pricing. The first ‘cheep’ seat was advertised by JetBlue on July 6th when they offered a flight from JFK to Nantucket for a only $9 one way.

According to an article over at USA Today it also states that:

In addition to filling empty seats, the sales can introduce new customers to the airline, he says. “Those first-time customers trying Cheeps … we know they’re going to come back.”

United’s Twitter-only fares, also known as “twares,” started in May. The airline’s sales tweets can come at any time for a flight leaving on any day, and fliers have had to pounce quickly because the offers are usually available for only one to two hours.

“Twares are all about surprising our customers with low fares for a very, very limited time,” says Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman. And, she says, they “sell extremely fast because the prices are unbeatable.”

Many airlines continue to offer e-fares, notifying fliers about last-minute sales via e-mail. But travelers usually have a few days rather than a few hours to book their tickets.

With Twitter fares, Johnston says, “You really have to act fast. Because people watch Twitter in a real-time manner, the ability for someone to … come in and immediately act on it is a unique phenomenon to the culture of Twitter.”

Twitter is new enough that businesses likely are still trying to grasp who uses it and how that audience can benefit their enterprise, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.

“They’re experimenting with it to see what the value is,” he says. “Is it better to send an e-mail with a $9 fare or better to Twitter it?” Still, he says, “I think absolutely airlines and all travel companies need to get in the game and see how it plays out.”

This could turn out to be a win-win situation for both the airlines and consumers. What do you think? Would you be willing to grab a flight on Twitter?

Comments welcome.

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Would You Pay For Every Internet Site You Visited?

According to some people like Barry Diller, who operates some 30 Internet sites which make $1.5 billion, he thinks we will all be paying to view sites in 5 years. According to this man, the Internet is just “an accident of historical moment that will be corrected”. An accident? Historical moment? Corrected? By who?

According to one news article it states Barry Diller as saying:

“I absolutely believe the Internet is passing from its free days into a paid system. Inevitably, I promise you, it will be paid,” Diller said in a keynote discussion opening up the Advertising 2.0 conference held at his company’s futuristic glass building alongside the Hudson River in Manhattan. “Not every single thing, but anything of value. “

What was he going to say to a group of advertisers? The Internet will be a flop and advertising will fail?

What do you think? Will you pay for content on the Internet to make more money for some corporation  that says that is the way it is going to be?

Comments welcome.

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Stimator

If you’ve ever owned and operated a Web site, then you’ve probably wondered how much it’s worth at one time or another. It’s always nice to be able to attach a value to something, and with a Web site, there are a lot of different factors involved including the composition of the domain name itself, the number of other sites linking to it, and a whole range of other things. Therefore, it can be hard to give a definitive answer. With that said, you can come up with an overall estimate, and that’s what Stimator enables you to do.

Type in a URL, press the Calculate button, and see what happens. After some analysis, you’ll be presented with a report covering a variety of areas that show you how well your domain did and why it’s worth what it’s worth. You wouldn’t want to use Stimator’s financial estimates as complete facts, but they’ll help you to think on the right track. From my experiments, their estimates seem to be more accurate than those from other Web site appraisal tools. Give it a try if you’re curious to see how much your site or any other site might be worth.

[rsslist:http://shop.tagjag.com/products/domain+registration]

Amazon Says Reading Text Aloud Is Not Copyright Violation

During the past few weeks Amazon has come under fire from publishers and writers for allowing their new Kindle to read text aloud. It seems that some writers fear that the device would circumvent their revenue sources from audio book sales. Authors at first were successful in having Amazon remove the feature. But after some public outcry, Amazon will enable the feature, but allow authors to decide whether or not their works could be read aloud.

In a recent article it also states that:

Amazon said in a statement that it, too, has a stake in the success of the audiobook market, and pointed to its Brilliance Audio and Audible subsidiaries, which publish and sell professionally recorded readings.

“Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat,” the company said.

Amazon is working on the technical changes needed for authors and publishers to turn text-to-speech off for individual titles.

The Web retailer also said the text-to-speech feature is legal — and wouldn’t require Amazon to pay out additional royalties — because a book read aloud doesn’t constitute a copy, a derivative work or a performance.

Though I understand the concerns of publishers and authors, but why should those with sight impairment be punished? What about the people with disabilities and their rights? Should greed have a higher value than the handicapped?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

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Are Xbox 360 Price Cuts Going To Be Enough?

Well the rumor about Microsoft cutting prices on their Xbox 360 in September is now confirmed by some authorities. But my question is will additional price cuts rally a Xbox 360 revival?

In my opinion, a price cut is worthy when a company cut prices on a unit but doesn’t cut down on the hardware. Cutting down the hardware while cutting the price is sheer nonsense and is not recognized as a REAL price cut. As an example I’ll use the Toshiba laptop that Wal-Mart was selling a few weeks ago [see article here].  Pricing the unit at $398 in itself was a bargain. But what made the price even more attractive was that the laptop came with a 15.4″ screen, 2G of RAM, DVD recorder and also Vista Home premium. The unit could of come with a smaller screen, say 14″, 1G of RAM, a CD recorder with a DVD player and Vista Home Basic. This is usually what trimmed systems in the $398 price range come with.

Looking at what is proposed with the $199 Xbox 360  called Arcade, the unit has no hard drive. One would of thought a small hard drive could of been added to make the unit more functional and add value to the model. According to ars technica the low priced units will be:

  • Arcade (no hard drive) to $199
  • Pro (60GB) to $299 
  • Elite (120GB) to $399

I really don’t see the value in the Arcade unit. Just my two cents.

What do you think? By removing hardware and lowering the price will it make the Xbox 360 more attractive?

Comments welcome.

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Baseball Card Realities…

Those taking the “hold” approach with respect to their baseball card collections are simply kidding themselves. Think of it in this perspective. The cards that you have from the 1980s and 1990s were once considered valuable… well, according to prices that you paid for the cards and quoted prices in publications like Beckett, they were. How many of you actually sold your cards for those same quoted prices? Hey, we’re not ridiculing anyone; we didn’t sell one! We were net buyers of baseball cards for the better part of a decade.

1. For the market to “bounce back,” baseball itself first needs to be revitalized among the youth of today. Do you see it happening? And if the answer is yes, then the baseball card market needs to re-invent itself somehow. The last time we checked, kids were buying new Xboxes and asking for iPod nanos for Christmas. And these kids are roughly the same age as we were during our baseball card phase. Baseball cards will never overtake today’s affordable and easily-obtained technological gadgets. And why would they? Think about the probability of this happening.

Second, the people who drove up the prices in the early ’90s were young kids (who are in their twenties now) and old men (and probably some women, too) who ran the card and hobby shops. The inventories of these “kids” grew over the years as they purchased packs, attended card shows, etc. and these consumers were mostly “buyers.” The buyers’ collections grew sometimes to unmanageable amounts, making storage itself even difficult. The buyers can only take in so many baseball cards under the pretense that “they are going to be worth something one day” before this madness must come to a halt. Today, we have thousands of disgruntled “former collectors” who are sitting in the wings, storing their worthless cards and waiting for a sunny day. Most of these unfortunate souls have moved on to other things, thank goodness, and hopefully have carried these valuable lessons from their baseball card investment debacles forward with them through life, so as to avoid similar predicaments whether in business, the stock market, real estate, etc.

Over the course of the late ’80s and 1990s, card buyers kept taking in cards, and the shopkeepers were the sellers. Now any shopkeeper who made a sale and refused to replenish that inventory probably made out quite well. But those who thought the boom would last forever likely got their ass handed to them as they re-invested the profits on their card sales in more inventory. This inventory became more worthless as time went on and became increasingly difficult to sell to card buyers amidst waning public interest. Let’s put this in perspective. Upper Deck cards were the hottest thing around in 1989-1991, with Ken Griffey, Jr. cards (now what a disappointment he turned out to be, remember all of the hype?) commanding hundreds of dollars. Today, we cannot even sell a sealed, mint SET of the cards from those years for 49 cents. (A reader has asked for clarification on this. Yes, the year that the Griffey, Jr. rookie card came out, 1989, the Upper Deck set sold for about $70.00. We’ve attempted to sell a new, sealed, untouched set from 1990 at 49 cents and received no bids, not to mention our failed attempts at selling Donruss and Fleer mint, unopened sets to no avail.

Whatever the case, we’re certain that you all remember that the Griffey card alone was valued in the hundreds in its prime. And now the entire set is only worth $70? On a good day? What happened? Why is no one addressing this?) The word depreciation doesn’t fit this scenario; it’s more like a momentous dive.
Continue reading “Baseball Card Realities…”

Delusions Vs. Realities

Every year, I still buy two or three packs just for the heck of it, just to see who I get,” says Dave Kelly, 51, a Library of Congress reference librarian who specializes in sports and recreation.”

“I still collect them like I did when I was 10,” says Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alan Mills, 34. “It could be going to the 7-Eleven, getting some apple juice and picking up some cards.”

“He’s still mad at me. He thinks I threw away his baseball cards,” says one exasperated mom. ” ‘They’d be worth millions now.’ I’m quoting him: ‘Millions now.'”

“Just as timeless is the equally irresistible urge for America’s mothers to toss ’em, or so we claim. Moms are the ultimate scapegoats for the lost treasures of our youth.” Says Mike Dodd in USA Today, 3/27/01
Continue reading “Delusions Vs. Realities”

Baseball Card Death

Any male that grew up in the late 1980s – early 1990s knows all about the phenomenon known as “Baseball Card Death.” The problem is, he doesn’t know that he knows this. And who can blame one’s selective memory loss here? Think of the large percentage of your disposable income that you blew on baseball cards, which likely have little utility for you right now as they sit in your basement amongst the spiders, centipedes, and mice. Do you really want to be reminded of the colossal investment mistakes you made? Well, we will play the role of Alanis Morrisette, “and I’m here to remind you…”

In the early 1990s, baseball cards were better than money, better than gold, Hell, they were supposed to pay for college tuitions because they were such a solid investment. As everyone knows, but few can bear to admit, nothing could have been further from the awful truth. We’ve scoured the Net for articles or postings… basically anything we could find with a negative slant on baseball cards. We can’t find anything! People seem very keen on talking about their successes, and we all know that back in the day everyone was talking about how much everything they owned was worth. But did anyone recall cash in on their baseball card riches? Did anyone bail at the right time and actually pay for their tuition, buy a second home, or re-invest in the stock market? Our instincts tell us the answer is, for the most part, “no.”
Continue reading “Baseball Card Death”