Who is Huawei? Meet the Major Cellphone Maker You’ve Never Heard Of

Huawei Ascend D2
Huawei Ascend D2

Huawei was big at CES. And that’s especially crazy, because a lot of the big guys (Samsung, Apple, Nokia) weren’t. So it was a great time for a less familiar brand to introduce itself. So who is Huawei?

Huawei is a telecom founded in China in the late 80s and still based in Shenzhen. It has offices around the world (including the US) and had a profit of 3.7 Billion in 2010. Yeah, 3.7 BILLION. It’s got a huge market share in China, but the company is also making huge inroads in Russia, India, and North America. They’re also trying to get into the U.S. market. According to CNET, they’ve hired a consulting firm that will help them raise their profile in the US.

But the problem with Huawei is that even though they have plenty of devices, they don’t work with any of the major carriers in the U.S. And they need to, because the major carriers have the power to sell phones at a discounted rate on contract: it’s those price points that consumers have come to expect, and any manufacturer would have a hard time moving units at an unsubsidized price.

But that’s only half the question: Huawei will also need phones that Americans want to buy. At CES they were showing off two devices that could have some appeal: the Ascend Mate and the Ascend D2. The Mate is a gigantic Android (4.1 Jellybean) device, with a 6.1 inch screen that pretty solidly qualifies it as a “phablet,” one of my absolute least favorite tech words. The Ascend D2 has a lot of similarities, but has smaller, more reasonable 5inch screen and a 13MP camera. Both resemble other phones on the market, like the Galaxy SIII and Droid DNA.

They might not be the most creative offerings, but they’re certainly on-par with some of the phones on the market and selling in the US. It’s not like all the phones we currently have to pick from are the most innovative either. So what do you think – would you welcome another phone maker to the market?

Gift Guide: Great Tech Gifts for Bloggers

Lots of people blog, of course, but some of them take it more seriously than others. So here’s our gift guide for anyone who wants to blog professionally, or at least seriously, and for bloggers already out there creating posts.


Nespresso maker
Nespresso U

Nespresso Coffee Maker: $199 & up

You’ve probably seen those single-cup coffee makers. This is the same idea, but for espresso. And it’s delicious. And bloggers love coffee (maybe even more than normal people).

Nespresso’s currently running a promotion, so you get $100 credit toward the disposable cups of espresso. They come in many different styles, so there are many to pick from starting at $199.

More from the Nespresso website here.



Moo Cards Sample of Gifts for Bloggers
Woodmoore Photography Moo Cards

Moo Cards Gift Certificate

If you’d like to get a gift for someone aspiring to take their blog to the next level, try a gift certificate to Moo Cards. Moo Cards are affordable business cards that look like they cost way more than they actually do. The paper’s nice, you can do rounded edges, and you can use your own photos or their design. My favorite business card source out there. 50 double-sided cards in full color starts at $19.99.


16GB flash drive from Staples
16GB Flash Drive

Flash Drive: $28.99

Another thing you can’t have too many of, especially when there are photos or videos involved. Usually you see flash drives in smaller amounts, like 4GB or 8GB. And those are useful, but not nearly as useful as gigantic one, like this 16GB model from Staples. They make prettier models, but when you choose function over form you get a lot more bang for your buck.


Blue Snowball Microphone Blogger Gift
Blue Snowball with Tripod

Blue Snowball USB Mic: $60.88

Podcasts and interviews are a great way for bloggers to create interesting material to engage readers. This Blue Snowball mic will let just about anyone create professional-sounding audio with just a mic and their computer. The mic works just by plugging it in via USB, with no extra setup or software.

You can read more about the Blue Snowball on their website, or it’s available for purchase for Amazon for $60.88.



Gift for Bloggers: Roll-Up Bluetooth Keyboard
Roll-Up Keyboard from Brookstone

Roll-Up Bluetooth Keyboard: $60

Yes, the idea that bloggers work at coffeeshops is a stereotype. But there’s some truth to it. If nothing else, bloggers need the flexibility to work whenever and wherever. This keyboard is great for anyone doing a lot of traveling and/or mobile typing, since it rolls right up to save space, but still gives you a full keypad so you can actually write. It pairs via Bluetooth, recharges via USB, and is especially great for tablet users. $60 from Brookstone.

New Touchscreen 4G LTE Hotspot: MiFi Liberate from AT&T

MiFi LIberate Hotspot from AT&T
The MiFi LIberate is the first-ever touchscreen hotspot

It’s kind of amazing, but sometimes 4G LTE download and upload speeds are faster than your home Internet access. Other times when you need to the web, there’s just no WiFi to be had, and a small mobile screen isn’t going to cut it. That’s what a hotspot is for: think of it like a portable router that can power multiple devices, but uses your cell signal instead of WiFi.

The MiFi Liberate is a new touchscreen hotspot from AT&T. It’s the first touchscreen to come on the market, and the screen gives a quick at-a-glance  picture of important stats, like network status and how much battery life you have left. The interface should feel pretty natural for anyone used to navigating a smartphone: the homescreen has icons that are easily tapped for the important details, like how much data you’ve used: .

Battery life is always huge selling point for any kind of mobile device, and this a point where the MiFi shines, promising 11 hours of battery life (enough to outlast a couple of laptops). The battery life is almost twice that of many competitors, thought the device is slightly larger than average, too. It weighs in at 4.3 ounces, with dimensions of 4.1 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches, which still seem perfectly manageable and portable.

Anyone who travels regularly, especially frequent fliers, should consider a Hotspot, as should anyone who just travels to a local Starbucks to get some work done! For many, the promise constant internet access is reassuring, and for others it’s a lifesaver. Either way, it’s worth evaluating if it’s a must-have for your business.

The MiFi Liberate is $50 through AT&T on one of their shared data plans. Go here for more information or to order.

Working While Away This Weekend? Your Best Options for Videoconferencing

Videoconferencing using Google Hangouts
Screensharing using Google Hangouts

The best part of Thanksgiving may be the long weekend: four days of uninterrupted snacking and napping, right?  Except that almost never happens: at some point over the four days, you may need to do catch up on some work, and you may even need to collaborate with colleagues. Videoconferencing is a great solution to working remotely that we should take advantage of 365 days a year, but it can be extra useful during the holiday season. Below are a few options to explore:

This is a very robust videoconferencing service that’s also designed to host webinars and training sessions. You can also videoconference directly from your mobile device: GoToMeeting has a dedicated app for iPhone, iPad, and Android. You video quality will only be limited by the front-facing camera on your device, so it may not be the most beautiful video, but you could be using in the airport right now if you wanted. GoToMeeting isn’t cheap, with monthly and yearly pricing available based on the number of organizers, starting at $49 a month or $468 a year. If you’re doing a lot of videoconferencing, especially with clients, it may be worth it for the quality.

Skype is the classic videocalling app, which is great, because it means lots of people already know how to use it, and they do offer group calls, but only for Skype Premium members ($53.84/a year). It takes installing the app, though, so it’s not a great solution if you need to make a quick videocall from someone else’s computer. Skype-to-Skype mobile calls only work on Android and Blackberry on Verizon (bizarre), but there are Skype videocalling apps for iPhone that promise improve on the built-in camera.

Google Hangouts
Newer than Skype or GoToMeeting, Hangouts expand on Google’s pre-existing videocalling to offering multi-user videoconferencing. The biggest selling point here is that it’s free, though in many ways the experience reflects it. Google Hangouts feels more like a fun, consumer-oriented program, but will definitely work if you have savvy users and a fairly informal culture. It’s integrated into Google+ and Google Drive, so it’s easy to share from Google’s apps. But till more people are familiar with its tech, and Google refines the user experience, it’s probably not a great bet for important client meetings.

Microsoft Lync Online (Office365) 
This is part of the official Microsoft Office offering for the cloud that makes all your office must-haves portable. Lync Online is one component, and it’s an app for videoconferencing, online meetings, and instant messaging, kind of like Skype, but made more professional. It provides screensharing, can host up to 250 users on one call, and can sync with Microsoft Outlook as part of the Office365 suite. As a standalone product, Lync is available starting at $2 a month per user, or you can subscribe as part of the Office365 package (that includes MS Office online) starting at $6 a month per user.

What Is Beats Audio Technology? Does It Live Up to the Hype?

htc windows 8x with Beats Audio limelight yellow
HTC’s Windows Phone 8X with Beats Audio in limelight yellow

One of the big complaints about sound from laptops, smartphones, and even dedicated mp3 players is that the sound quality is pretty awful. And generally that’s a fair complaint; a good pair of headphones will go a long away toward making the sound better, but the actual design of the device is still going to affect how well the headphones can even works. That’s the problem that Beats Audio purports to solve: making better hardware and software that works together so you can enjoy some actual quality in your music.

Read More

How to Use One Smartphone for Work and Play With AT&T Toggle

AT&T ToggleDo you carry two phones, one for work and one for personal use? Or do you find that work stuff is crowding out the fun stuff on your smartphone? Anyone who’s using mobile devices to stay constantly connected inevitably ends up needing access to work and personal at all times…it’s just not always very convenient.

Enter AT&T Toggle, a new program designed to let you use one device for everything. Essentially, Toggle has 2 modes (business and personal) that you can switch between, depending on what you’re doing. They are 2 different environments with different apps, settings, etc., and they’re also completely separate from each other, so you don’t have to worry about personal photos accidentally showing up in a REALLY wrong place at a really wrong time! In business mode, users can access all their work contacts, email, and calendars, just like a regular corporate-issued device. Personal mode is the same experience you’ve gotten used to on your device, complete with fun stuff.

It’s also really great for small business owners and IT managers who have security concerns, but also have employees who want to use their own devices. Using the AT&T Toggle Hub, IT managers can control what a user’s “business mode” looks like. There’s a web interface to manage what apps business mode includes, as well as manage access to files and resources, and remotely wipe the device if it’s lost or if the employee leaves the organization. Managers can even “lock” work mode to keep an employee out…sounds like a good way to make sure people actually relax on their vacation!

Plus, AT&T Toggle works on smartphones and tablets running iOS or Android, and is available on most major wireless carriers. That makes it easy to accomodate employees in a professional world where bring-your-own-device is becoming more and more common. Click here for more information on how to use AT&T Toggle to streamline your small business’s mobile use.

MiFi Liberate, the World’s First LTE Touchscreen Mobile Hotspot, Now Available from AT&T

MiFi Liberate Touchscreen 4G LTE Hotspot from AT&TAT&T announced recently that they’re going to be bringing the world’s first touchscreen mobile hotspot device to customers in the US. The global-ready MiFi Liberate is a top of the line 4G LTE hotspot that will bring super fast network speeds to your laptop, tablet or oer mobile device anywhere AT&T provides service.

The device will be exclusively available to AT&T customers, and you can sign up for notifications from AT&T to be amongst the first to learn when this and other hot new AT&T devices will ship this fall.

First up, the touchscreen. The Liberate sports a 2.8″ display that will allow you to quickly and easily access your settings, so yo can change your network name or password on the fly. With a powerful battery that boasts up to 11 hours of life, this device should more than outlast any device you connect to it, and then some. The included MicroSD slot will further allow you to share files with up to 10 connected devices super fast.

The global connectivity is another big big selling point for this device as well. AT&T promises that it will work in more than 200 countries–so no matter where your business takes you, you needn’t worry about being able to work while on the go. Whether you just need to send a few emails or upload some images or video, this device has you covered.

For the mobile professional, few devices offer quite the same value as a good MiFi. While tablets often allow us to get more done on the go, being able to get online with your laptop can often mean the difference between making deadlines and having to wait to finish work when you’re back home or at the office. With a MiFi device, your office is everywhere you are.

Our Mobile And Social Media Future: Talking To The Experts

What A Backstreet Boy, A Tech Journalist, A Social Media CEO, and A Facebook Employee Say About The Future Of Mobile And Social Media

From left to right: Me, Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, Mashable’s Andrea Smith, Duracell Powermat CEO Ron Rabinowitz, and Facebook’s Kevin Knight

I recently had the chance to chair a phenomenal panel in New York City where I was able to talk with a wide variety of entrepreneurs, business professionals, and social media experts about where we are today with mobile and social media and what’s coming in the future. While this event wasn’t televised, I was able to get some great quotes and invaluable content from the panelists to share with you today.

How a Backstreet Boy uses social media to connect with his fans

The most interesting panelist had to be Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, who has a major social presence on Twitter, Socialcam and Instagram. Using social media, AJ has created Internet memes like #booomb videos on Socialcam, and has cultivated a huge online audience almost 20 years after the band he was originally known for rose to fame.

While the Backstreet Boys are still recording and selling millions of albums, AJ has created a strong brand for himself as Mr. Skulleeroz (pronounced “Skull-e-rose”) on social media channels. What’s his secret? According to AJ:

Someone like myself who’s in the music industry, we’re not always that accessible to our fans and to the media except when we do [things like] a press event. [With social media you] get a direct contact and get an immediate response. That’s something that I’ve never seen before… It just brings my fans, my personal fans and the Backstreet Boys fans, closer to us as people. Bringing them into our homes, our everyday life. Not just backstage or onstage, but like ‘come take a ride with me down the street to the 7-11.

You don’t have to be a Backstreet Boy to see the value in what AJ is saying. No matter what your business or brand, social media and video allow you to connect with people when you can’t be there in person. If you can get even a few hundred views on an online video, the time you take to make it is immediately more valuable than trying to meet with those same hundred people in person. If you can get a few thousand views, you’re suddenly an online content producer capable of monetizing your content because your online audience is now suddenly as valuable as your real-world audience.

Read the rest of this post on AT&T Networking Exchange to hear some great quotes from the CEO of Socialcam, a journalist from Mashable, and a Facebook employee!

Webinar w/ Mario: Top Tips for the Mobile Entrepreneur

Mario Armstrong's Webinar for Entrepreneurs Today at 1PM Eastern Mario’s hosting a webinar for entrepreneurs talking about how they can use mobile technology to improve their business. He’ll focus on how mobile is letting us get more done from more places, thanks to our phones, tablets, and more. Plus he’ll get deep on topics entrepreneurs need to know about, like cloud storage, Evernote, mobile video, and mobile payments. Plus he’ll cover some great ways to save time as well as some apps to help you better connect with customers via social media.

Click here to register AND to watch today LIVE at 1PM Eastern.

After you’ve watched, Mario will also host a Twitter Q & A session. He’ll be using the @ATTSmallBiz handle (go follow them!) or you can look for the hashtag #ATTWebinar to keep up on everything going on.