This year, Microsoft changed things up and decided to hold two Mobius events back to back. The first one was held in Thailand, and the second one here in the US. Typically, the events here in the US have always been held in Seattle, WA., near Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. But this year they opted for Boston, MA. Lucky for me, I was invited to the Boston event. This meant a short 2hr flight, instead of 4-5 hours to Seattle.
My travel day was less stressful than usual because I was able to talk my Dad into driving me to the airport, so that I wouldn’t have to leave my car parked in long term parking for several days. I had to bribe him with gadgets though… I let him borrow my iPod nano and I gave him an early birthday present of a Huntlight Flashlight. So with gadgets in hand, he picked me up at the house and then dropped me off at the airport.
The flight from Indianapolis to Boston was super fast. Unlike poor Judie who had attended the Thailand event. Before I knew it, I was being ushered into a town car and was on my way to the very nice Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge.
The large comfortable room was a kaleidoscope of patterns and textures.
Like any good Gadgeteer, the first thing I did was unpack my Powerbook and connect to the free WiFi to pull down all my mail and check the site. Check it out, the hotel uses cable turtles :o) I don’t know why this struck me as cool, but it did!
After a quick email fix, I called Tong Zhang of MobileTechReview.com. We had made prior plans to hook up before the evening’s meet and greet festivities. I hadn’t seen Tong in over a year, so I was looking forward to catching up with her. I went down to her room and we chatted for a couple hours. She had actually brought the Cingular 3125 (Star Trek) for me to play with for a couple of days. I was impressed with the size, feel and screen.
When it was time for the meet and greet, I ran back up to my room to get the DualCor cPC and then Tong and I went down to the hotel lounge and started meeting the other invitees. The best part of Mobius is meeting the people that run the websites that you visit every day (or multiple times a day if you’re surf obsessed like I am!). There were lots of familiar faces, but also new ones such as James Kendrick of jkOnTheRun and Susi Weaser of ShinyShiny.
Derek Snyder who had just returned from the Thailand event, came bearing gadgets! I was very interested in fondling the Treo 750 (Middle right side) and HTC Excalibur (Middle) phones. The new Treo feels so much smaller than my 650, even though it really isn’t. I really wanted to shove it in my pocket and disappear into the night! The Excalibur is also nice, but I’ve yet to become a fan of the Windows Mobile Smartphone OS. I feel like my hands are tied if I can’t tap the display with a stylus ;o)
I tried to give James and Tong a demo of the DualCor cPC device, but pressing the power button only resulted in the Blue LED lighting up and nothing else. You’ve heard the saying “The lights are on, but no one is home”? That’s pretty much how it felt. I tried to use the stock stylus to press the reset button but guess what? The tip didn’t fit. Neither did Tong’s Treo 700p stylus. Finally a discarded toothpick from a bacon wrapped scallop did the trick!
Later everyone headed outside to take part in a manly game of Toss-the-phone. The object was to see who could throw an old phone the farthest, with the top 3 receiving well earned prizes.
Rafe Blandford of allaboutsymbian.com won the grand prize of a Samsung i320, Matt Miller of geek.com won the 2nd place prize of an iRiver Clix and now I can’t remember who won 3rd place. Sorry! Not long after, I turned in for the night. On the way out, we were given a small Roadwired Pod gear pouch with a Mobius logo metal tag attached.
The next morning, we all met bright and early for hearty breakfast in the meeting rooms of the hotel.
Derek Snyder, Microsoft
John Starkweather, Microsoft
Michael Gartenberg, Juniper Kagen Research
Cord Campbell, Qusers.com
Michael Ducker, Treo Central
Shane Chiang, PPCSG
Rich Brome, Phonescoop
Dan Hanntula, Pocket PC Magazine
Ryan Block, Engadget
Peter Rojas, Engadget
James Kendrick, JK on the Run
Matt Miller, ZDnet
Reggie Supildo, 1SRC
Rafe Blandford, All About Symbian
Arne Hess, theunwired.net
Nick White, Microsoft
Leigh Geary, Cool Smart Phone
Steve Sande, Gizmo Ranch
Micheal Jerz, My-Symbian.com
Paul O’Brien, Modaco
Susi Weaser, Shiny Shiny
Mike Temporale,Smartphone Thoughts
Tong Zhang, Mobile Tech Review
Chris Leckness, Aximsite
After breakfast, John Starkweather kicked off the event by welcoming all of us and reminding us just what the Mobius group stands for:
Mobius is about a never ending conversation. A group devoted to following and reporting topics and news related to mobile devices and consumer electronics.
Each of us then got up in front of the group to introduce ourselves and give a short demo on a device that we had with us. No, I didn’t try for demo #2 with the DualCor ;o) I played it safe with my good ol’Treo 650!
Things got truly underway when Derek Synder of Microsoft gave us a Windows Mobile update. He showed us some whiz bang power toys, a demo of Windows Mobile Live (which now has tabs for chats!), Xbox Live (hopefully out next year), Hurricane Tracker software, a Tony Hawk Skater Pro game on both a Dell x51v and a Motorola Q, and a Medical program that played videos of patient’s medical procedures.
Up next was Nick White of Microsoft. He gave a demo on Vista (that’s the next version of the Windows operating system, for those of you that live under a rock…). The new OS has quite a bit of yummy eye candy, and what looks to be a better photo app than Apple’s iPhoto. He also talked about a new search engine that sounds remarkably like Apple’s Spotlight. Hope it’s FASTER than Spotlight! Once Nick completed his presentation, he passed out Release Candidate CDs of Vista for all of us. Darn, I don’t have a Windows computer to test it out… and no, I don’t think I want to put it on my iMac ;o)
One of our own, Rafe Blandford (allaboutsymbian.com), gave a great presentation about… Symbian! It was a good overview of how Symbian is doing globally. 82.8 million phones as of 2006… WOW! Great job Rafe!
Jim Morrison, CEO of i-Mate gave us all a chuckle when he explained that the JAQ device was created to be an UGLY device on purpose. Supposedly, so no one would want to steal it if you took it to the pub. Hmmmmmmm, I still think he may have been pulling our legs on that one…
Sling Media who we had seen at last year’s Mobius, was back with 3 new devices. The Slingbox tuner for basic analog cable, that allows you to split the coax cable coming into your house. The Slingbox A/V, which is designed for set top box users (TIVO, DVR, Satellite receiver, etc.) has composite and s-video inputs. Both will be $179.99.
Then there is the Slingbox Pro, that has inputs and outputs galore (coax, composite, svideo, connector that allows you connect an HD device). Although the Pro does not stream HD, it does allow the signal to come into the Slingbox. The price will be $249.99 (dongle for HD $49.95).
ComVu was up as the last presenter of the day, with a very cool demo of streaming video from your phone. This is a video blogger’s dream! Really impressive…
All of us then boarded a bus and went down to the Boston harbor to take a little jaunt on the 137ft Roseway Schooner.
We had to stand around for a short time before we were allowed to board the board. John used this time to pass around some dramamine for those that might get sea sick.
I would have liked to hang out here at the harbor for hours!
All aboard! < - Or do they just say that for trains?
Left: Derek Synder of Microsoft talking to Ryan Block of Engadget and Micheal Gartenburg of Jupiter. Right: Susi Weaser of Shiny Shiny, with Tong Zhang of Mobiletechreview.
Now the Roseway is a sailboat, so we (I say that like I actually helped… ;o) had to hoist the sails with some hearty heaving and hoing!
Rich Brome of phonescoop.com, Dan Hanttula of pocketpcmag.com, and Peter Rojas of Engadget are giving it all they’ve got!
Yay! They did it!
The trip was about 3hrs round trip and it was quite enjoyable. Tong and I talked to Susi about how she got started at Shiny Shiny, and Rich Brome, Cord Campbell of Qusers.com and I spent some time talking shop about running websites.
The company was good and the food was also good! The crew served great clam chowder, which was very welcome, due to the fact that I was FREEZING! It was just a bit nippy out there on the water with the wind blowing.
View as we headed back into the harbor.
The final day of Mobius started out with another great breakfast, which was quickly followed up with a presentation by
Wes Salmon of Microsoft (formerly pdabuzz). Wes gave us a demo of some of the new features that may be included in Crossbow (the code name
for the next version of Windows Mobile). Although Microsoft did not require us to sign an non disclosure agreement, we were
asked not to discuss any specifics with this new version. I will say that a some of the grumbles and gripes with the current
version of WM have been addressed in the next version.
Next up was Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter. Michael shared lots of statistics with us and initiated an interesting discussion on the definition of the term ‘smartphone’. What makes a phone a smartphone? The Motorola Razr can be used as a PIM, programs can be installed in memory, and you can surf with it. So why don’t we consider it a smartphone? Makes you hmmmmmmmm, doesn’t it?
Horace Luke of Microsoft was the last presenter. He gave us a demo of some exciting new features of Photon, a future version of Windows Mobile. All I can say is “I WANT THIS NOW!”…
After lunch, the rest of the afternoon was spent working on the Mobius Project. We were split into 3 groups. Business User, Social
User and Practical User. Each group’s task was to come up with an uber device. I was part of the Practical User group, along with
James Kendrick, Steve Sande, Michael Temporale, Rafe Blandford, Peter Rojas and Michael Oryl. It might sound like an easy task to
do, but we had a heck of a time trying to pick one idea. All of the information from the 3 groups will be taken back to Horace’s
group at Microsoft, and drawn up. The great part is that they are really interested in our ideas.
The day ended too quickly, and before long I was parked at Logan airport waiting for my flight back to Indy. I tried to use my Treo 650
as a Bluetooth modem for my Powerbook, but was not successful. Although I could pair the two, the service did not show up to allow
me to use it as a modem. Then for some odd reason, Logan’s WiFi provider would not take my credit card info… so I had to just
use the Treo to surf, chat and email.
On the flight home, I sat next to a guy that uses his Treo 650 to receive status emails from nuclear power plants that he manages.
I’m sure you’re all wondering what types of goodies Microsoft handed out to us this year… So here’s the list:
Samsung i320 Smartphone (too bad for me that it’s tri-band and I need 850mhz… sniff!)
Samsung WEP200 Bluetooth Headset
Motorola O Rokr MP3 sunglasses
Ultimate Ears Super.FI earphones
Roadwired Pod gear bag
Treocentral Leather Treo 700 case
Mobius branded sunscreen, lip balm and eye glass cleaning cloth
Stuffbak Loss protection kit
Windows Vista Release Candidate CD
Cell mate car dash no slip mat
This year’s Mobius was a good one. I enjoyed meeting several new members and catching up with everyone else. I came away from this event with renewed inspiration for all things mobile!