MLB.TV available in time for Spring Training


Every season one of the most popular phrases for a baseball fan is that pitchers and catchers have reported, meaning that the preseason has started and regular season baseball is not too far away. Now a new phrase may start bringing the same excitement-MLB.TV is now on sale.

While this may be a bit of an exaggeration it is not that big of a leap since the huge popularity of the program has seemingly increased every year as baseball fans continue to sign up to watch the streaming video of MLB games. Now in its 12th year the program is the top sports streaming product.

The program allows fans to watch out of market games on a growing variety of platforms ranging from televisions to on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, supported Android smartphones and tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire and Windows Phone 8. There is a range of additional devices that are or will be supported as well such as the Xbox and Sony’s Playstation.

It should be noted that the games shown are only those that are out of market games and the map for which teams claim which territory is very convoluted. For instance I think four or five teams claim Las Vegas. There is (or was I cannot find the current status) a court case that seeks to throw out MLB’s blackout policy, but you should probably not hold your breath for any changes this season.

All subscribers to the service that sign up early i.e. prior to the start of the regular season, will have access to more than 200 live games from Spring Training in Florida and Arizona. Spring Training game broadcasts are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.

Some subscribers, depending on which version they select will also receive a free subscription to At Bat, enabling fans to listen to any game on a huge range of supported platforms. MLB.TV comes in two flavors. For $129.99 a year you also get At Bat as well as support on mobile devices. For $109.99 you just get the standard features that do not include mobile devices and choice of feeds.

Variety of apps to support the Sochi Olympics


NBC’s broadcast of the Olympics should be boon to its online and streaming viewership, even though this is something that the network has made available for some time. As with many apps and capabilities users often only discover them when looking for specific tool or event.

There are a surprising number of apps available for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics that will be held in Sochi starting later this week. They range from simple calendars to one that will be showing live events.

Actually this is probably not surprising but then it’s hard to say why you would want something aside from the one that is available from NBC Sports, the official broadcaster of the games. Aside from the fact that the app, NBC Sports Live Extra, is from the broadcaster it was hardly just conceived for the Olympics.

The app also provides live sports events that air on NBC, NBC Sports Network and the Golf Channel so that over the course there will be IndyCar, the PGA Tour, Premier League Soccer and the NHL to name just a few.

We have already mentioned most of the features of the app as it pertains to the Olympics but it’s good to mention that there will be 1,000 hours of live streaming video with some replay on demand capabilities. It is free to use with select caveats.

However if you are looking for different functionality there are plenty of options starting with the U.S. Olympic team’s official app. It details who has made the team, links to athletes’ social media and an up-to-date following of how they do.

Another general purpose sports app, this one with a more international flavor, which will have a special focus on the Winter Olympics, is BBC Sports. It will have live coverage of events at the games and can be used to follow a wide range of International sports.


An interested app is the Sochi 2014 WOW (Wireless Olympics Works) that comes from Samsung Electronics, one of the major sponsors. The app is customizable so that a user can have it focus on their specific interests. Not too surprising is that it is also optimized for Samsung devices.

Amazon Refreshes Kindle Lineup-Meet the Kindle Fire HDX


Amazon has brought out its next generation Kindle Fires with new models that have greater resolution, faster processors and in one case the ability to hit a button and get help for issues that may be plaguing the tablet.

The company has also started to take the tablet battle into a new space — the enterprise — as it has added what it calls enterprise and productivity features as tablets are increasingly seen as replacements for PCs in the corporate environment.

The Kindle Fire HDX will be available in both a 7-inch and 8.9-inch model and are both powered by Qualcomm’s 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, which the company said was 3x faster than what powered its older models.

The company has also increased the pixels per inch to 2560 x 1600 on the 8.9-inch and reduced its weight 34% to 13.2 ounces while the 7-inch model has 1920 x 1200 resolution. The amount of RAM has been doubled to 2GB and they have a new graphics subsystem for faster gaming. There are a host of additional features including longer battery life and improved cameras.

An interesting feature is the “Mayday Button” that is in the Quick Settings. It calls up an Amazon expert on the device who can walk you through a feature or issue. This feature is available 24/7/365.

One area that the company has created a technology that will likely both further differentiate its products and help open new markets is its Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito” operating system that couples the Android operating system environment with Amazon-only features and cloud coverage.

Mojito may be a strong tool for the company to establish itself in the corporate environment where the “Bring your own device” (BYOD) mentality is becoming strongly entrenched. It has a number of features targeted directly at the enterprise including encryption, Kerberos support for intranet access, secure Wi-Fi, and a native VPN client, among other capabilities.

The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX starts at $379 for 8 GB of memory, while the 7-inch starts at $229 also with 8 GB. Buyers can pre-order starting Sept. 25. The 7-inch will ship Oct. 18, while the 8.9-inch will ship starting Nov. 7. There will also be new colored covers that will be available in seven shades and cost between $45 and $70.

Older models have seen their price cut as the new models come on line with entry-level 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire HD with 8GB, to $139 from a $199 version that had 16 GB model.

It will be interesting to see how these models compare with the forthcoming iPads from Apple, widely expected sometime next month. The drive for the corporate space could catch Apple unprepared, and it will be interesting to see what Apple’s message will be when it takes its turn on stage. The corporate push is also where Microsoft has been positioning its Surface Pro tablets for some time, and it just recently announced the latest generation platforms.

Friday Grab Bag: The Cost of Hot Dogs and New Nexus Coming?

If you cannot get enough of Facebook on your mobile devices this will be very good news. The company has delivered an app called ‘Facebook Home’ that is an Android program which replaces your normal Android home screen.

Scheduled to be launched within the next two weeks the app will also come preinstalled on new HTC First Phones that will be available from AT&T. Facebook is working to launch a version for tablets in the near future. Head over to TechCrunch to see what the new features will be.

Next Gen Nexus rumored for July
The latest in the tablet rumors is that Google’s popular Nexus tablet will be seeing a platform refresh this coming July, according to a report in Reuters, and from the sounds of the report the company plans to be very aggressive in its pricing.

The new Nexus would feature greater screen resolution, a thinner bezel and a new processor, dropping Nvidia in favor of Qualcomm. It is reported the company will be seeking to sell 8 million tablets in the second half of the year.

Speaking of Google rumors another has it building an Android powered notebook that it is planning to launch as early as in the third quarter of this year.

Amazon Kindle Phone on the way?
Computerworld is reporting that Amazon is looking at developing and delivering a smartphone that it would deliver later this year. It is not clear of Amazon would make it a type of Kindle phone or if it would be a more traditional Android device.

Amazon recently hired Charles Kindel who had formerly headed up Microsoft’s Windows Phone application and platform developer relations. Apparently Kindel has been blogging that he was hired by Amazon to ‘do something secret” I am sure blogging will help keep it a secret.

Ematic delivers low cost Android tablet
If you are looking for a low cost tablet, possibly as a single use device or one that you are not afraid to have damaged you might want to look at the latest offering from Ematic and its $79.99 7-inch Genesis Prime tablet.

While certainly not designed to set the world on fire with its features it does have a 1.1GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 4GB on-board storage, 5GB cloud storage, 512MB of RAM, front-facing VGA camera and 4.5 hours of battery life.

No peanuts or crackerjacks here
Sports fans are always competitive and now they can see how they rank in two very important categories- how much they are spending on beer and on hot dogs at the ball yard, thanks to a survey by CNN Money.

I have to say I surprised at the differences. You can buy six hot dogs at Cincinnati’s Great American Park for the price of one at the New York Met’s Citi Field, for instance. Beer is most expensive in Washington D.C. and cheapest in Cleveland.

Microsoft Surface Pro Sells Out — More this Weekend


After the lackluster news about the holiday sales of its first generation tablet, the Surface RT, and then more bad news about its Pro version just prior to shipping Microsoft has some good news to report. It’s sold out!
It was reported that just a day into its widespread availability Microsoft was out of its 128GB version of its Surface Pro tablet, although its 64GB version remained on the shelves for prospective customers.

Well that might not be so great since it could mean loss of sales but it looks to be a short term issue as the company has a new round of tablets on the way and they are expected to hit store shelves as well as Microsoft’s own online store by this weekend.

Some have questioned if the tablets actually sold out, or if it was an artificial shortage designed to get solid publicity for the company by showing demand for the tablet. PCWorld posed that question and has provided similar comments from others.

Still it is hard to say for sure since it is doubtful that Microsoft is going to provide its roadmap and strategic plans for use to look at. The question I have is if the demand for the highest capacity tablets was driven by the news of how little space was actually available for users?

I guess we will see the true popularity of the tablets, both from Microsoft and others when IDC releases its next quarterly tablet report. Other Windows tablets have received popular acclaim, such as the most recent offering from Lenovo. This should help break open the market even more, providing Samsung, Apple, Google and Amazon with a new generation of competition.

Google Expands Hardware Offerings with Latest Trio

Google did not let the cancellation of its New York event due to Hurricane Sandy get it down and came to market today with a trio of new products including a pair of tablets as well as a new smartphone all running the latest version of Android.

Starting smallest first is the latest in its smartphone lineup, the Nexus 4, built by partner LG. It features a quad core processor, a 4.7-inch 320 ppi screen with wireless charging capabilities. On the software side there are several new or enhanced products starting with the latest version of its Android operating system, Jelly Bean 4.2., support for Gesture Typing and a new photo technology called Photo Sphere.

The 8GB version is available for $299 while the 16GB for $349; available unlocked and without a contract on November 13. The 16GB version will also be available through T-Mobile for $199, with a 2-year contract

It has revamped its existing Nexus 7 to make it slightly thinner and lighter and with expanded communications capabilities with HSPA+ mobile data plans from carriers such as AT&T. The Wi-Fi-only versions will larger storage options: 16GB for $200 for the original version or 32GB for $250. The 32GB HSPA+ version of the tablet will cost $300.

The company has also broken into the 10-inch tablet space with the debut of the here’s also the Nexus 10, built in partnership with Samsung. With a high end display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution display and a battery than can support nine hours of video playback. It has a range of interesting features including support for multiple users with their own profiles and apps. The Nexus 10 will be also be available on November 13 in two storage capacities- the 16GB for $399 and the 32GB for $499.

The move comes days after Microsoft entered the 10-inch tablet space with the first of its Surface tablets. A host of third party Windows 8 tablets are expected in the next few weeks and months. Apple has also just expanded its iPad franchise with the release of the iPad mini last week. It was just a few weeks ago that Amazon expanded its Kindle lineup.

One thing is for certain-consumers looking for a tablet this holiday season will have a much broader, much better built lineup of products from a much bigger range of developers.