Toyota picks up another segment of the battery market.

Jeff Soyer, who sells Toyota cars BTW, points out that Toyota owns a 60% stake in Panasonic’s battery division.  A smart move, since it is that Panasonic division that makes the batteries that Toyota uses in its hybrid electric cars. 

Now Toyota is about to aquire Sanyo.  Sanyo is the other major producer of batteries used in hybrid electric cars.

I wonder where Chevy is planning on getting the batteries for their Volt hybrid electric car from?

Update: Chevy announced that LG Chem will provide the lithium-ion cells for the battery packs in the Volt.   GM has also signed a deal with the University of Michigan to open the largest battery lab in the country.  Battery tech, and the cost of electricity, are the gating factors in widespread hybrid/electric vehicle acceptance.

The price of texting

I’ve posted before about my opinion of cell phone text messaging the prices the carriers charge for it. Here’s the short form, it’s a major profit center for the carriers.  They are charging a lot for a very low cost feature.

It seems that the Senate antitrust subcommittee has figured this out and is demanding a look underneath the carrier’s collective kimono in order to find out just how much profit they are making over texting.

Palm’s new OS

Palm has been working on a new OS for the past four years, code named Nova.  The rumor is that it will be released at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2009.

A Palm executive makes an interesting observation in BusinessWeek, “The next 10 years is all about the transition from notebooks to mobile computing.”

Palm’s strategy is to not go over the business market (dominated by Blackberry devices) or the high end “strong mobile media experience” (where the iPhone rules), but the “fat middle of the market” of users who want a mobile Internet device/Phone, but don’t need/want to watch movies on a tiny screen.

It sounds like a good plan, except for one fly in the ointment.  That is the same market space Google is going after with their Android OS.

Keeping Palm in the game

Palm, the PDA inovator, now considered a “smarphone” company, has received $100 Million investment.  It’s from the venture-capital firm Elevation Partners.

Palm’s Centro smart phone has done well, but they need something to compete with the iPhone and the upcoming gPhones.

Digital Picture Frames

One of the hot items this Christmas is digital picture frames.  I’ve been looking at various models, bought several and returned a couple.  

First, what not to buy. Omnitech digital picture frames.  Omnitech is a Staples brand name.  Don’t let the low price suck you in like it did me.  The quality is absolute dreck!  Very low resolution pictures.  Here is a tip, if the resolution of the screen isn’t printed on the box somewhere, it’s probably safe to assume that it sucks.

I found two models that I’m happy with.  The first is an HP 10.4″ model.  The resolution is 800×600, it has a remote, support for music files, movies, CF/SD cards…all the usual stuff.  A bit pricy, Amazon has it for $165, but then you are paying for the brand name and the perceived level of quality. It will show your digital photographs off quite nicely though.  It also has different colored mats that can be swapped out to match your room’s color scheme.

The other model I like is the Smartparts OptiPix Pro 10.4″ digital picture frame, which Amazon has for $99.99.  According to data on the box, the resolution is 640×480.  I’ve got it set next to the 800×600 HP, loaded with same pictures, and I can’t see $65 worth of difference between them. 

Bottom line, if you want a decent digital picture frame, be prepared to spend at least $100, and while it’s probably safe going with a well know brand name like HP, it may not be the best buy available.

Biofuel from Coffee grounds

Amazing stuff coffee. In addtion to it’s other amazing properties, including being good for the roses, the grounds can be used to produce biofuel.

The estimates are the coffee ground biodiesel industry could generate as much as $8,000,000 in profits annually using waste from Starbucks stores here in the United States  alone.  Ok, probably less given falling crude oil prices, but I’m still a big fan of any domestic fuel souces. 

To add to the overall awesomeness of coffee, at the end of the biodiesel extraction and conversion process, the leftover grounds can be turned into fuel pellets for wood stoves and boilers.

Not only does coffee keep you moving, it can keep your car moving and heats your home!

Lithium-Battery tech improving

One of the big advantages of Lithium Batteries over nickel metal hydride is that there is more room for improvement with the Lithium models. 

A team in South Korea has “developed a nanoporous silicon electrode that could at least double the charge capacity of a lithium battery–essentially doubling the range of an electric vehicle. And unlike previously reported silicon anodes, the one created by Cho’s team can charge and discharge rapidly.”

The charging part is important.  Current plug in cars have eight hour plus charge times when plugged into standard current.