TechBytes: Wal-Mart Offers Prepaid Cell Phones

In today's TechBytes, improved Wi-Fi, a projector camera and iPhone driving.

ByBRETT LEVY, TINA TRINH and PETER MARTINEZ
October 14, 2009, 10:52 AM

Oct. 15, 2009— -- Wal-Mart is launching a national no-contract cell phone service, called "Straight Talk," that will be made available at more than 3,200 Wal-Mart stores starting on Sunday.

The service will come in two plans -- a $30-per-month plan that will include 1,000 minutes and 1,000 texts, and a $45 monthly plan offers unlimited minutes and texts. Both plans come with nationwide coverage and unlimited 411 calls. Customers will be able to purchase plans and refill their monthly balances at Wal-Mart stores or online at www.walmart.com or StraightTalk.com.

Your gadgets will soon be able to talk to each other through Wi-Fi, without needing to connect to a wireless network first. The Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group, says that by 2010 electronics such as cameras, computers and cell phones will come with the updated technology. It will make Wi-Fi similar to Bluetooth technology, which uses less power, but has a shorter range and handles less data.

The new Wi-Fi will make it easier to unload video or photos from your cameras.

A new camera is making it possible to show off your photos without having to pass it around and look at a tiny screen. Nikon's CoolPix S1000pj comes with a tiny projector that will display the photos on any surface, as large as 40 inches diagonal. New York Times' Assistant Technology Editor Sam Grobart says the projector is not that powerful, but that it does the job.

"It makes it very convenient and very easy to share photos with people, particularly on the fly, shortly after you've taken them." Grobart says. "The problem with the s1000 is that it's an amazing new feature, to be able to project something onto a wall, but as a camera, it's OK. It's not a terrific camera."

The camera sells for $430. Read the full review of the Nikon CoolPix S100pj at NYTimes.com.

These days there's an iPhone application for almost everything. Now a team at Freie University in Berlin claims they've rigged up a Dodge Caravan so that it can be fully controlled with an iPhone. They say there are buttons for breaks and a gas pedal; turning the phone acts as the steering wheel. The iPhone connects to the car using Wi-Fi.

You can watch a demonstration of a iPhone remote controlled car on YouTube by clicking here.

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