iPhone 5S Not so Black and White After All – Rumor Mill Hits Rock-Bottom

iPhone 5S Not so Black and White After All – Rumor Mill Hits Rock-BottomThere’s plenty of talk right now that Apple may be well and truly grasping at straws when it comes to making the iPhone 5S launch go with a bang. There doesn’t seem to be a single analysts or industry commentator that’s able to give us anything really exciting to look forward about with the iPhone 5S, which is starting to look like an inevitable stopgap solution with pretty dreary specs and features.

Dreary in a comparative sense, that is.

And the funny thing is, the rumor mill seems to be following suit as while an impending iPhone release date usually brings the most wild and wacky predictions and guesses as to what’s to come next, the iPhone 5 rumor mill has become decidedly less adventurous.

Take today for example – the latest iPhone 5S rumor to hit the headlines is…brace yourself…an additional color variant to add to the usual black or white options.

That’s right…ONE additional color. Not a range of new colors, just the one.

Not that  a lovely bright and shiny iPhone 5S wouldn’t be quite delightful, but is this really as good as it gets right now in terms of rumor and speculation? What happened to the built-in gas canister for controlled descents? Or the laser keyboard? Or the 3D screen?

Sorry to be the one to point out the obvious but really, things are getting both boring and desperate.

Think of the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One. In the weeks running up to their release dates it was all talk of octa-core processors, Ultrapixel cameras and face-sensing technology that had us all hooked.

The iPhone 5S on the other hand…what, we might be looking at a blue one?

Forgive the cynicism, but Apple really needs to get back on track with something that’s a little more inspiring than this.

And as far as the rumor mill goes…are there no standards anymore?

Get a grip!


HTC M7 Unveil Coming February 19th – Release Date Expected March

HTC M7 Unveil Coming February 19th – Release Date Expected MarchSo, it looks like HTC may be unveiling yet another of their smartphone devices at a London event.  As HTC fans waited with baited breath for the Barcelona 2013 Mobile World Congress next month, the new HTC M7 smartphone was never destined to be revealed this way.

Instead, the date of the new phone’s release has been set as 19/2/13.  This means that in all likelihood, it will be released at its own dedicated event in the British Big Smoke, just as HTC has done before.

A tweet from a self-confessed insider provides us with this tit-bit of information, as he/she made reference to having connections and a number of years working in “the field”.  However we have no further information of this rumored unveiling as yet and in the usual fashion, HTC will not respond to any questions or rumors.  We know categorically that no invitations have been issued for this event (on the basis that certain people who we assume would be invited, have not as yet received invitations).

The initial scoop on the appearance and specification of the new smartphone came in the form of a video leak of a short clip demonstrating SIM card insertion.  There are also plenty of whispers about the possible spec; 2GB of RAM, Android’s current Jelly Bean flagship OS, 32GB closet space, a superb 12-megapixel camera and a 4.7 inch High Definition screen.

Nobody outside of HTC really knows what the phone will look like or what kind of specs and features it will deliver, so we’re just going to have to wait until it rather imminent release date to find out how much credit the rumor-mill deserves.


2013 Toyota Rav4 – An Admirable Redesign, Usurped at the Top

2013 Toyota Rav4 – An Admirable Redesign, Usurped at the TopBack in the spring of last year, the debate raged as to where a consumer might turn if they were looking for hands-down the most cost-effecting compact crossover available in the US. This was the time when the market was graced with the arrival of a new 2012 Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V – all of which were gunning for the same crown.

So, given the fact that the all-new 2013 Toyota Rav4 launches this very month, it seemed like a good idea to take a look at the latest entrant and see if the Japanese automaker has come good on its promise – one to once again redefine the segment it created.

Sorting a slick new profile nose-to-tail, a 2.5-liter straight-four powertrain and automatic six-speed transmission, the 2013 Rav4 certainly qualifies for the all-new moniker. Directly targeting the growing demand for fuel-efficiency and cost-effectiveness, Toyota did away with the rather greedy V6 powerplant of the previous Rav4, while also removing the optional third row of seating.

The revamped upper-hinged tailgate offers so much more convenience than the previous sideward-opening rear, while the trademark spare tire on the trunk that eventually became a tacky eyesore has been mercifully rehoused under the floor. The adjustments do admittedly result in less interior space than previous Rav4 models, but not by enough to constitute a complaint.

Onto those all-important figures – Toyota has stated that the 2013 Rav4 will achieve 31MPG for highway driving and 24MPG city. Feature-wise, options are on the cards including an all-wheel drive version, a massive JBL audio system with 11 speakers and various driver safety aids.

So, with an entry-level price of $23,300, all of the above sets the 2013 Toyota Rav4 firmly toward the upper-end of the segment and is an impressive package to say the least. In terms of buying and running costs, it may only come out slightly ahead of its closest rivals, but this is after all a segment where every penny really does count.

Which makes it rather unfortunate that the segment is not in fact led by the 2013 Toyota Rav4 as the automaker had likely hoped – check out the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a surprise or two.


2013 Honda Civic EX Excels with Redesign But Could Mean Lower Profit Margins for Honda

2013 Honda Civic EX Excels with Redesign But Could Mean Lower Profit Margins for Honda

The Wall Street Journal’s review of the 2013 Honda Civic EX differed from that of other auto reviewers, as it took a look not only at a much-improved vehicle but also one that took a look at Honda’s business prospects as a result of the redesigned compact.

Like most other reviews, the WSJ briefly touched on the 2011 rethink of the Civic, which “debuted to resounding scorn”, according to writer Dan Neil.  Indeed, many reviewers savaged the 2011 and 2012 Civic iterations due to the overall cheap feel, low-quality materials and, in Neil’s words, a lack of “general thoughtfulness of design.”   But Honda admitted that 2013 would be the right time for a change, and it looks like Honda has made the 2013 Civic, particularly the Civic EX, into a car that could be called a comeback vehicle of sorts.  That’s quite impressive considering Consumer Reports’ damning comments regarding the 2012 Civic, where the publication said that it would not recommend the Civic as a car to purchase.

The usual strengths of the 2013 Honda Civic EX were all mentioned by the WSJ – an upgraded cabin, an easy-to-use and complete infotainment system with Pandora, Bluetooth and several other features, and the much-improved design that could make reviewers and consumers alike forget the debacle of 2011 and 2012.  This, as Neil pointed out, was part of a welcome and sooner-than-expected change, as automakers generally don’t revamp an entire model’s exterior design if it’s been out in the market for about a year and a half.  But the new Civic may, at the end of the day, be a vehicle that would cause American Honda’s profit margins to decrease.  Company officials have estimated an increase of $500 per unit in manufacturing costs as a result of the changes; the 2013 Civic is only $160 more expensive than its predecessor.

BlackBerry X10 and Z10 Compared – What to Expect on January 30

BlackBerry X10 and Z10 Compared - What to Expect on January 30

Research in Motion’s BlackBerry 10 launch will finally be taking place on January 30 of this year, and the optimism isn’t just coming these days from RIM executives trying to make the most out of a bad situation.  Despite dropping about 25 percent  following RIM’s last quarterly earnings report, stock prices are still in double digits and trending upwards, which is much better than the sub-$7 price per share being recorded back in September.  However, the pressure is on RIM as it hopes BlackBerry 10 will indeed be the savior it has long been waiting for; if the operating platform fails, many are expecting the worst for the struggling Canadian company.

That said, the Z10 is expected to be the device that will prove BlackBerry 10’s worth and take RIM to greater heights, if not the same level it once was at some 4-5 years ago.  Screen size of the Z10 is still unknown, but it is believed that the phone’s display may measure about 4.3 to 4.5 inches, with HD capability.  But more importantly, it will be an all-touch device with no hardware buttons whatsoever.  Considering RIM’s reputation as a maker of easy-to-use devices with physical keyboards, this is an entirely new direction for the company, but initial reports claim that the BlackBerry 10 OS will come with an intuitive keyboard that should help those used to QWERTY keyboards adjust to the new-look and all-touch Z10.

The X10 has an interesting screen display – unlike the rectangular appearance of your typical smartphone screen, RIM’s “old-fashioned” QWERTY phone will have a square-shaped screen measuring about 3.5 inches, with 720 x 720 resolution. But based on the leaked photos of previous weeks, the X10 will have a different look and feel for its physical keyboard, with a more durable design.  The X10’s rumored internals, aside from the BlackBerry 10 platform, include a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1 GB RAM and either 16 or 32 GB internal storage.

PHH Mortgage Rates Lead Market Today, PNC Bank Far Behind

PHH Mortgage Rates Lead Market Today, PNC Bank Far BehindPHH Mortgage has proved to be untouchable throughout the course of the week as a whole with some truly incredible lows on home purchase mortgage rates – the same cannot be said however for PNC Bank which has performed considerably less strongly.

PHH Mortgage

30 year fixed rate loan interest rates have been listed at 3.160% at PHH Mortgage with an APR of 3.332% today.  Popular 15 year loan interest rates are coming out at 2.500% with an APR of 2.809% today.

10 year loan deals are published at 2.500% at the bank with an APR of 2.951% today.  20 year FRM interest rates have been offered at 3.070% and APR of 3.312%.

40 year loans have been offered at 3.580% and an APR of 3.722% today.

ARMs in the 3 year category can be had for 4.000% yielding an APR of 3.497%.  In the ARM arena, 5 year loans are 2.170% at PHH and APR of 2.964%.  The 7/1 ARMS are being offered for 2.340% today showing an APR of 2.935%.  The 10 year Adjustable Rate Mortgages have been published at 2.750% carrying an APR of 3.068%.

30 year refinance loan interest rates at PHH have been quoted at 3.500% and APR of 3.723% today.  The shorter term, popular 15 year refi fixed rate mortgages are on the books at 2.750% and APR of 3.239%.  7 year refi ARMs are listed at 2.625% with a starting APR of 3.141%.

PNC Bank

30 year loan deals stand at 3.625% at PNC Bank (NYSE:PNC) today yielding an APR of 3.679%.  15 year loan interest rates stand at 2.875% and an APR of 2.983% today.

10 year loan interest rates are published at 2.875% at the bank and APR of 2.980%.  20 year fixed rate loans at the bank are listed at 3.500% with an APR of 3.560% today.

Standard 30 year refinance fixed rate loans at PNC Bank have been listed at 4.000% today yielding an APR of 4.042%.  Popular 15 year refinance loans have been offered at 3.125% at the bank with an APR of 3.193%.


The best 10 year refinance FRMs have been published at 3.125% today yielding an APR of 3.225%.  The best 20 year refinance loans are 3.625% with an APR of 3.710% today.


Windows Surface RT a “Modest” Success Story – Will the Surface Pro Perform Better?

Windows Surface RT a “Modest” Success Story – Will the Surface Pro Perform Better?Here’s once word a company CEO never really wants to utter when discussing the immediate success or otherwise of a major product launch – “modest”. Following the official release date of the Windows RT Surface Tablet after months of hype, Microsoft’s Steve Balmer has gone on record to tell a French newspaper that sales of the device are indeed  “starting modestly.”

This contrasts rather starkly with the past release dates and launch weekends of rival tablets like the iPad Mini, new iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 – all of which flew off the shelves at such a rate that demand simply could not be kept up with.

Talk of an immediate and unmitigated success story in the form of the Windows RT Surface Tablet can therefore be laid to rest, it would seem.

Mr. Ballmer did however go on to suggest that one of the reasons for the less-than-spectacular sales so far was primarily the limited numbers and capabilities of sale channels. As it stands, the newly released Microsoft Surface RT Tablet can only be bought through the official Microsoft Store online, or at any of Microsoft’s bricks-and-mortar or pop-up stores scattered across the US.

The apparent good news comes in the form of several of said sales channels having been depleted of all Surface Tablet supplies either on or shortly after its release date, suggesting that demand in some areas at least was respectably high. At this time however, Ballmer was unwilling to reveal any exact or estimated sales figures – all we have to go on is that worrying use of “modest”.

Rounding off on a positive note, he also went on to confirm that the high-end Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet is on its way, which has been rumored for release date in January 2013. Packing a mighty Intel Core i5 processor along with 4GB RAM and up to 128GB storage, the Surface Pro Tablet is expected land with quite the bang.

That is of course for those that can afford it, as early indications suggest that the base-model of the Surface Pro Tablet will hit the shelves for $899, with larger storage variant tipping close to $1,200.