Tag Archives | Qualcomm

Happy Wi-Fi Day!

Qualcomm Atheros created this art to celebrate 802.11 day, a holiday it invented.

I bet you didn’t know it, but today is 802.11 day. (I didn’t know it either until a PR person for Qualcomm Atheros–the Qualcomm division formed after Qualcomm acquired Wi-Fi chipmaker Atheros–e-mailed me.) Not because of any scientific milestone involved in creating the IEEE standard more commonly known as Wi-Fi, but because, well, it’s really 8.02.11. Get it?

The folks at Qualcomm Atheros seized upon the tech equivalent of a bad pun to update a group of journalists about what’s next for the popular connectivity technology–and although the excuse may have been lame, what they had to say was interesting. The last big upgrade, 802.11n, delivered speeds on the order of 100mbps Ethernet, so the standard now in the works is going for the next speed hurdle–1 gigabit.

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Whither Mirasol?

One of my favorite tech demos back at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2010 was Mirasol, a new kind of display from Qualcomm that combined some of the virtues of LCDs (color, respectable refresh rates) with the single biggest virtue of E Ink (crazy long battery life).  I saw it in person, was suitably impressed, and waited for the e-reader which Qualcomm said to expect by the end of the year.

The e-reader didn’t show up, and I kind of forgot about Mirasol–until yesterday. Here at Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, there was a press conference with Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, and  someone asked him about Mirasol. Which I wish I’d thought to do.

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Who’s Suing Who? A Cheat Sheet to the Mobile Patent Mess

So Apple is suing Samsung, accusing it of imitating Apple products with its Galaxy phones and tablets. The most startling thing about the news may be that the two companies weren’t already in court with each other. Over the past few years, the mobile industry has been so rife with suits and countersuits that if every complainant managed to sue every subject of its ire out of business…well, there’d hardly be a mobile industry left.

I had trouble remembering the precise details of the umpteen cases that have made headlines–as well as some related relationships, such as Microsoft’s licensing agreements with Amazon and HTC–so I decided to document them with a handy-dandy infographic, as much for my own edification as anyone else’s.

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The Verizon iPhone 4 Isn't a World Phone, But It Could Have Been, Sorta

9to5Mac’s Seth Weintraub has an interesting scoop: The new Verizon version of the iPhone 4 uses a Qualcomm chip that’s capable of working on both CDMA and GSM wireless networks. The phone itself is CDMA only–it doesn’t have the SIM slot required for GSM–but the chip might hint at multi-network capability that would let the iPhone 5 and/or iPad 2 work anywhere in the world. That would be a cool last gasp for old technology before the first LTE-based Apple gadgets show up–something that’s unlikely to happen before mid-2012 or so.

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FLO TV is Officially…in Limbo

Yesterday’s rumor was true: FLO TV is discontinuing its direct-to-consumer service. Actually, it’s not that straightforward. Owner Qualcomm says it’s suspending sales of devices and considering its options, but that service will continue through the spring of 2011 and that it’ll issue refunds if appropriate. To quote an old bit Bob Newhart bit, the service has died…but not quite.

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Is FLO TV Dead? Are Standalone Mobile Gadgets Dead, Period?

PaidContent.org’s Staci Kramer is reporting that Qualcomm is shutting down the direct-to-consumer version of FLO TV, its mobile TV service that provides a broadcast-like experience on the FLO TV Personal TV gadget, in-car systems, and a handful of smartphones. Judging from the FLO TV site, she’s right: It seems to have been scrubbed of all “where to buy” information except for that pertaining to Verizon and AT&T phones, which remain available for now.

FLO TV was–can we speak of it in the past tense yet?–a classic example of the right product at the wrong time. Judged on its merits, it was quite impressive: It delivered live TV with no hiccups, and Qualcomm lined up an impressive roster of big-name content partners. If it had been around a decade ago, it might have been an iPod-like hit. But in the age of plentiful Internet video on smartphones, it felt pricey and a tad retro. And one neat device that could have made it more appealing to more people–Mophie’s FLO TV jacket for iPhones, which was announced in January at CES–hasn’t shipped, and now presumably never will.

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This New Qualcomm Technology Gives E-Readers Color

It’s still early here at the Consumer Electronics Show–the halls bursting at the seams with exhibitors open later this morning for the first time. But if someone asked me what the most interesting thing is that I’ve seen so far, the answer’s easy: It’s the low-power color displays for e-readers and other gadgets from Qualcomm’s Mirasol division, which the company was showing off at the Digital Experience event Wednesday night.

Mirasol’s technology produces screens that look a lot like the E-Ink ones found on nearly every e-reader to date–they’re unilluminated and therefore look better in bright light than in dim environments.  But Mirasol’s displays, unlike E-Ink, do color and have decent refresh rates. If the shipping version of the display technology’s as impressive as the demo, that means that it’ll allow for e-readers with color pages, video, and slicker user interfaces. Here’s a photo of a concept device that doesn’t do the technology justice.

The Mirasol technology, which involves tiny mirrors creating colors by refracting light, doesn’t have anything to do with how E-Ink works, but it shares some of the virtues that make it a good candidate for e-reading devices, including extremely low power consumption. (Like E-Ink, it only draws power when the page is being changed, not when an image is static.) Actually, a Mirasol representative told me that it uses far less power than even E-Ink.

The tech demo at Digital Experience knocked my socks off, but Mirasol isn’t quite ready to go into consumer products yet. Qualcomm says to expect an e-reader incorporating the the technology by the third quarter of the year.


We May Need a New Name for Smartbooks. (Good!)

Smartbooks are an emerging class of computing devices that, basically, are to netbooks what netbooks are to notebooks: smaller, cheaper, less powerful, and (possibly) handier. They’re an idea being promoted by chipmakers Qualcomm and Freescale, whose CPUs will be inside the machines (which won’t run Windows).

Trouble is, there’s already a smartbook. It’s a German company, and as TechCrunch’s Robin Wauters is reporting, it’s decided to protect its trademark by going after use of the term to describe these mini-netbooks.

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