Anyone want to beta test for OnLive?

OnLiveAny gamers out there want to test the latest cutting-edge gaming hardware? OnLive beta testing is about to begin and they're recruiting testers.

What is OnLive, you ask? Cloud gaming. All you need is a browser plugin or a mini-console, your own controller, keyboard or mouse, and you have on-demand access to a huge library of games. OnLive sends the signals from your controller over the web back to their custom-built gaming servers, it plays the game there (with more processing power than you'd ever have at home), and sends you back a video stream of what's going on in-game.

Plus, since they're bending video streams like crazy, they let you eaves drop and watch other people playing their games - live. Want to check out that new Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game, but don't know anyone who owns it? Just click into the game and pick from dozens of people who are playing it to watch over their shoulder. Or, while you're playing, click a button to record "brag clips" to post on your blog or twitter feed.

"But wait!" you say. "It'll never work! It would take years to develop the tech to get video streaming to the point where you could push that much video over the web seamlessly." And you'd be right. It'd take about seven years, actually. Luckily, Steve Perlman (of WebTV fame) has always been about a decade ahead of the curve. He and his crew have been working on this since 2002 and are finally ready to lift the veil this winter. Should be exciting!

Lets just hope he doesn't sell this company to Microsoft like he did WebTV. Apple, TiVo and YouTube are still struggling to catch up with Perlman's business plan from a decade ago, that Microsoft didn't understand and let fall by the wayside. I'll still never forgive them for the epic marketing fumble that lead to Dishplayer's obscurity and TiVo's ubiquity.

Palm is back in the game with the Pre!

Palm PreThe ads that accompanies the original iPhone drove me crazy. They were talking about it like it was something new, when I'd had the same basic functionality I've had on my Treo since 2002 (before the iPod even had USB or color). Sure, it wasn't as pretty as the iPhone, but it was functional as all hell and much, much easier to use (physical keyboard, customizable buttons, copy/paste, etc).

But over the past two years I had been getting nervous. While Apple and Blackberry were continuing to innovate on their phones, and application developers bent over backwards to make snazzy toys for the iPhone, the Palm OS and accompanying hardware just stagnated. You'd get a slightly faster connection in a new model, and some buttons moved around, but nothing worth writing home about.

I was beginning to fear that I would eventually have to break down and get an iPhone in another year or two when my Treo gave up the ghost. Which wouldn't be that bad if they came out with an iPhone with a slide-out physical keyboard. And copy/paste. But the chances of that, I think, are pretty slim as long as Steve Jobs is running the show.

But this week, my faith in Palm has been restored. At CES, they gave a preview of their new phone, called the Palm Pre, and their new Linux-based operating system, called Web OS. It's a damned sexy phone, both physically and beneath the hood.

It does all the basics, plus integrating calendars/contacts from multiple sources, allowing you to run multiple apps at the same time, wireless charger, and has what looks like the ideal balance between touch-screen goodness and slide-out physical keyboard.

For the first time in ages, I'm actually looking forward to upgrading my phone. Yay!

Palm comes to its senses and kills Foleo

Palm Foleo DiscontinuesIn case you missed it in the news a while back, Palm announced that they were going to be releasing the Foleo smartphone companion, which would be a small $500 laptop that syncs directly to the Treo in real time. They thought it would be the ideal companion to the Treo, since it is relatively small, starts instantly (no booting up) and doesn't take any time to sync with the Treo.

But instead of saying "wow, that's awesome, when can I get one," the vast majority of spectators either laughed or cringed. It's a phone accessory that costs more than the phone? It's a laptop that doesn't run 90% of the applications people want to run on their laptop, but costs the same as an entry level Dell? It doesn't give you any functionality that the old fold-out keyboards and is five times as expensive and five times as bulky? And you're spending all that money on this instead of investing in raising the bar on the Treo to blow that upstart "revolutionary" iPhone out of the water? These are just a few of the questions that were asked. Also, not uncommonly, "have you lost your frikkin' minds?"

Well, Palm may have had a brief bout of temporary insanity, but they have not completely lost their minds. They're admitting that it would take a huge chunk of change to make the Foleo into something to be proud of, and have the good sense to realize that they'd be much better served investing that money into the existing Treo platform. So they're giving the Foleo the axe.

This means that they've blown $10 million that could have been spent on a next-generation Treo, and fallen a few months behind in reclaiming their "coolest smartphone ever" title from Apple. But at least they're admitting their mistake and changing course before it's too late.

Review – Apple TV

Apple TVI have been looking forward to Apple's new Apple TV (formerly known as iTV) since before they announced it. I have been downloading a lot of current-season TV shows and watching them on my PC, so the idea of being able to plug a little box into my beautiful 50" TV and watch it from the comfort of Cindy & Jason's insanely comfy couch was very, very appealing. I was even looking forward to the possibility of shit-canning that annoying TiVo box in the next year or so, if they delivered a compelling enough product and could keep up their expansion of available shows.

Well, today the Apple TV was officially announced, along with preliminary details on how it works. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed. Granted, it delivers the basic functionality it promised, but none of the functionality I figured they would include as an end-to-end solution, and the price point is just a little too high to make it all that appealing.

Lets take this review bit by bit, for those of you who are interested...