Comcast Gig: Gigabit with Strings

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Comcast Gig Service only appears to compete with Google Fiber

Comcast Gig service can be yours, right now if you live in an area that also has Google Fiber.  The service is only available where Google Fiber is also available, or will be coming soon.  But does this new service actually compare favorably to Google Fiber?

Google Fiber service is fairly simple.  1,000 Megabits per second upload and download connection speeds.  There is no bandwidth cap if the service is used for residential purposes and there is no contract, but you can waive the install fee if you keep the service for 12 months.  All this is available for $70 per month.

Comcast on the other hand has almost an innumerable count of optional plans, nearly all of which require at least a 12 month contract.  Granted the two plans offered that compare to Google Fiber do not require a contract, only if you want to pay the same amount.  Comcast Gig service is $140 / month without a contract, but $70 / month with a 36-month agreement.

Comcast Gig 003

As good as Comcast Gig appears, being the same price as Google Fiber’s service, there are a couple of drawbacks (not including the 36-month contract).  Comcast Gig service is limited on the upload to 35 Mbps (roughly 30 times slower than Google Fiber upload).  There is also a bandwidth cap, Google Fiber does not have a ceiling on use.  But the one distinct difference in all this between Google Fiber and Comcast Gig is that in most of the planned Google Fiber roll out locations Comcast Gig is available now.

Comcast Gig is in many of the cities where Google Fiber is active and planning, but what you may not be aware of (until now) is why.  If you’ve ever wondered why there was no cable service competition anywhere, it is because the cable companies designed it that way from the outset.  By default no cable company can compete in the same city as another originally because of the initial cost of cable installation.  BUT this same rule is being imposed on Google Fiber, when Google Fiber is not a “cable provider”.

So while Google Fiber is embroiled in a bureaucratic web, Comcast will snare those who want gigabit internet service, but don’t want to wait for Google Fiber;  even if that poor excuse for gigabit service comes with more than a couple of strings.

Are you willing to wait potentially another two years for a better service or just to hang on to your current bandwidth provider? Or maybe switch to a cheaper but very long term partially-gigabit service, with a company that is well-known to be one of the worst for customer care?  Hit me up in the comments for how you feel about this new service.

 

 

 

Get Outta My Head: Google Cast-enabled Speakers

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Google Cast-enabled Speakers

If you had the opportunity to read about Google’s recent launch of the Chromecast Audio, then you might have some idea of what Google Cast-enable Speakers are.  But if not, then you’re in for a treat. Sony, Denon, and LG have all announced Google Cast-enabled Speakers.

Google announced that several partners have integrated the Google “Chromecast” functionality into a couple of lines of stand-alone speakers.  These speakers, unlike most Bluetooth speakers, operate from a connection to your home Wi-Fi and steam clear, digital audio directly from the Internet.   The Google Cast element allows the user to control that audio stream from Google’s Play server, whether through Play Music, Play Movies, or from a host of other services like Pandora, Spotify, IHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, RDIO, and more.

Although these new speakers are not priced in the same ball-park as the Chromecast Audio itself ($35), they do offer a similar level of audio playback quality that you might expect from a high quality speaker.

LG Electronics

The LG Music Flow speaker series begins with the Music Flow H3.  A fairly small, vertically rectangular box that is slightly taller than a box of facial tissue. Atop the head of the speaker there is a iPod-familiar volume touch interface and a simple On/ Off switch.  As most of your music will be controlled through whatever smartphone or tablet device that you use, there isn’t much need for controls on the speaker itself.

Other devices in the Music Flow line are the H4, H5, and H7 speakers.  A unique feature of the H4 is that it includes a battery making your music more portable around the house.  And if you’re really into the LG line of speakers, adding the Music Flow Sound Bar will allow you to play back the audio from your home theater system.

Sony

The flare one expects from Sony hardware is somewhat diminished in the SRS line of speakers.  But where LG left off, Sony picks up.  The SRSX77 isn’t just a Wi-Fi device, it doubles as a Bluetooth speaker.  And adds all the support of the DLNA, Apple AirPlay, and a ridiculously long 100+ hour battery life.

In similitude to the LG line of speakers, Sony too has a line of speakers ranging in price from slightly more than the LG to a great deal more. You should expect to get solid performance from these speakers for the price, but don’t expect to pay less than $100 for any of them.

Denon

As of yet Denon has not released it’s line of Google Cast enabled speakers.  But we can get a glimpse of what is to come via their website (Press Release).

All other ISPs Vs Google Fiber

 

All other ISPs Vs Google Fiber

If you’re fortunate enough to live in one of the very few cities or metro areas, such as Kansas City or Austin,  that have Google Fiber, you probably remember the battle to get there.  But for those who have yet to experience the wonder of the modern world, there are semi-alternatives available. These faux alternatives are offered by the companies that Google is battling with and they are AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner, etc… That battle is still waging now, but it’s akin to the beating that the Seahawks gave to the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (48).

Let’s review what each company has to offer.

Google Fiber is 1000 Mbps Synchronous, that is both directions, upload and download.  It costs $70 per month.  You can get Television service as well for an additional $50 per month.  Installation is Free if you sign up for a 12-month contract.  The price does not change after the contract period.

AT&T does not currently offer Fiber service in areas that do not currently have Google Fiber available.  But you can get up 50 Mbps / 5 Mbps (Dn/Up) in many areas for between $50 and $100 / month with a 24-month contract.  And the price will go up after that.

Comcast does offer Fiber Service, even as much as 2 Gbps in areas where Google Fiber is currently available.  The deal is great for those with money to burn; $500 for install, $500 for activation, and $300 per month with a 12-month contract.

As for Time-Warner Cable, there’s only whispers of a suppositional possibility for 1 gbps service in the future.

It would appear that the best deal, even if not available in your town, is Google Fiber.  You may have to suffer with slow speeds, high cost, and wretched customer service, for a while until Google Fiber gets to you.  And there are usually other alternatives locally, but you may pay more for them.   For example, in Northern California, a local company Etheric Networks, offers a land-based microwave system that offers up to 100 Mbps, but at a steep price.  Whereas another local company offers AT&T’s U-verse service for 50% less and it includes VoIP phone service (Sonic.net)

If you’re wondering why Google Fiber is so much less expensive and why all the other ISPs have yet to offer Gigabit service, the answer is a complex one.  Google wants everyone on the internet and the fast, the better.  Google sells ads and the more bandwidth, the fast ads can be sold.   The other ISPs currently make a very good living from charging consumers for slow internet, especially in monopolized markets.  Plus, improving access speeds is a massive infrastructure cost.  In short, it is in Google’s interest to give you faster internet, it is not in the interest of all other ISPs.

 

 

Amazon Fire TV Price Drop

Amazon Fire TV Price Drop

Amazon Fire TV Price Drop Coincidence?

On the same day that the Google Nexus Player arrives the Amazon Fire TV price drops.  Coincidence?

No, the Nexus Player won’t even get to you house until 3-4 weeks from now. In that time you could be enjoying a months-worth of content on Amazon.  But what does the Fire TV not do?

Play Google Movies.  And what does the Nexus Player not do?

Play Amazon movies.

So which do you choose?

Both of course.  Seeing that you already have a Roku 3 and an Apple TV.  Why not just add the full gambit and get each video source at each device.

Google Plus Profile Pages get a view count

Google Plus Profile view count

 Google Plus Profile view count

It might seem like another April Fools jokes, but at least for now it seems legitimate. Google is rolling out a small, new feature on all Google Plus profile pages.  The total number of times your profile has been viewed, is showed next to your total followers.

I did not realize that I was so popular until today.  My first guess was that it had to do with some spam factor, or that Google might have made a mistake, but then I checked Mike Elgan’s profile and by comparison I’m still small potatoes.

Google Plus Profile

 

But of course my curiosity led me to other profiles, so

Robert Scoble. Not that surprised at nearly 100 million.  Yeah, i still follow him, but he does post a lot.

Trey Ratcliff.  Yeah that’s right over 4 billion.