top cell phone carriers

Choosing the best cell phone carrier these days isn’t a simple task. Should the decision come down to network coverage, or should it be based on their selection of smartphones? Or maybe the quality of its customer service is what’s most important for you.

Ideally, network coverage and carrier prices would be the most significant factors in the decision making process, especially since popular smartphones like iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 are available across multiple providers.

So when it comes down to it, rating the quality of nationwide coverage is just plain difficult. We can test in our Miami Beach and New York locations, but we can’t test all across the United States. It’s a pretty big country, and to accurately rate the best network, you’d have to make calls in hundreds of locations across America.

The good part is that in this guide we’ll tell you everything you need to know about each major USB carrier, and some regional ones as well. Also, we’d like to continue to ask for your help in rating the carriers and sending your feedback.

The biggest national carriers offer services across the US. They offer a wide range of services with standard monthly plan that may or may not require a contract. Most offer month-by month prepaid plans as well. National carriers are mostly retreating from “unlimited plans,” and are beginning to offer shared data plans for multiple devices, which typically benefits families the most. Within these plans you can purchase data allowance of several GBs per month.

verizon cell logo

1. Verizon Wireless

After gaining control of Alltel back in January of 2009, Verizon Wireless became the biggest wireless carrier in the United States. Verizon was one of the first carriers to offer a 3G network, a music store, and GPs services. Also, it was the first carrier to offer a mobile television network. Verizon Wireless announced its 4G LTE network back in December2010, although Verizon’s first 4G phone, the HTC Thunderbolt, didn’t come onto the scene until March 2011. Initially joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone, Verizon Wireless was formed back in 2000 through a merger between GTW Wireless and Bell Atlantic. In June 2012, Verizon also introduced the first shared data plans.

The Verizon Facts:

  • Verizon Wireless offers new subscribers the opportunity to select a shared data plan, which charges a device access fee and offers unlimited talk, text, and hot-spot connectivity along with your data tier.
  • Verizon Wireless 4G LTE will cover over 400 markets by the end of 2012.
  • Every new Verizon Wireless smartphone will be 4G LTE compatible.
  • Of the major carriers, Verizon Wireless has received several awards from J.D Power and Associates for the best network, and more recently for customer service.
  • Verizon Wireless includes a wide selection of the most popular smartphones including iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3. The carrier is expected to reintroduce Windows Phone with OS 8 in time for the 2012 holiday season.
  • Its Friends & Family plan offers unlimited calling to a select group of number, even landlines.
  • As A CDMA carrier, Verizon Wireless international coverage is limited to a handful of countries but it does offer dual-mode CDMA/GSM handsets.
  • Verizon offers prepaid plans.

What does CNET think of Verizon Wireless? Its supporters love their customer service and excellent coverage the most, while its detractors complain that it’s far overpriced and limited.

at&t logo

2. AT&T

As of 2012, AT&T is considered the second largest cell phone carrier in the United States right after Verizon Wireless. Back in the spring of 2011, AT&T unsuccessfully tried to acquire T-Mobile, which if it succeeded, would have pushed the carrier far above Verizon. AT&T offers a widespread network and a large and varied selection of mobile phones  and smartphones. Originally formed in 2001 as Cingular Wireless, it changed its name to AT&T back in 2007 to reflect its parent company.

The AT&T Facts:

  • In Summer of 2012, AT&T released its own shared data plans.
  • For those lucky enough to be grandfathered in, AT&T offered rollover plans that let you roll unused minutes over to the following month.
  • AT&T has a GSM network and offers extensive international roaming.
  • It offers a 4G LTE network  that may trail Verizon in terms of overall coverage, but it does offer fast 4G speeds.
  • AT&T has some of the most popular smartphones available on the market as soon as they’re released. It was the first carrier to offer the famous Motorola Razr V3 and spend two years as the exclusive provider of the Apple iPhone.
  • AT&T offers a varied selection of smartphones with all the major operating systems and is a major Windows phone supporter.
  • AT&T also offers month-to-month prepaid plans.

Its major plus for customers is its wide selection and availability of the trendiest smartphones and tablets. While its detractors complain of very poor customer service and coverage.

sprint logo

3. Sprint

Sprint and Nextel merged in 2005 to become the third largest wireless carrier and the second largest CDMA carrier in the United States. Sprint began wireless service under its brand in 1995, and Nextel was founded in 1987. Prepaid service is available only through its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile subsidiaries.

The Sprint Facts:

  • Sprint continues to offer unlimited calling and data plans.
  • This carrier is the third of the major networks to launch 4G LTE, behind Verizon and AT&T. As of Summer of 2012, Sprint’s 4G LTE service operated in 15 US cities.
  • Sprint was the first major US carrier to introduce 4G network and the 4G mobile phone, the HTC Evo 4G back in June 2010.
  • Sprint now includes most of the major smartphones, including Android smartphones, the iPhone and Blackberry.
  • Sprint has robust eco-friendly line and offers several rugged phones.

Customers claim that Sprint is the most affordable of the major cell phone carriers with great 4G service. Its detractors note that its customer service is terrible and its billing system is a major headache.

t mobile logo

4. T-Mobile

T-Mobile is the 2nd largest GSM carrier in the United States. It operates one of the smaller US networks of the top 4 carriers, but it has roaming agreements with AT&T and some other smaller operators. Back in the summer of 2011, T-Mobile announced its HSPA+42 “4G” network, but a potential buyout by its only national GSM competitor, AT&T, set T-Mobile back in maintaining its network and competing with other US carriers.

The T-Mobile Facts:

  • T-Mobile currently offers unlimited calling and data plans.
  • The carrier has a Wi-Fi calling app that lets you make phone calls when the network connection is weaker.
  • T-Mobile has extensive international roaming and thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots in the US and Europe.
  • Of the top 5 major carriers, T-Mobile has received the highest customer service rating by J.D Power and Associates.
  • T-Mobile was the first carrier to launch a Google Android phone. Its smartphone lineup now includes Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone devices, but no iPhone.
  • Its plans are very competitively priced compared to the other major carriers. In 2009, it introduced Even More Plus plans that don’t require a contract, but don’t offer subsidies for phones. Its Even More Plans require contracts, but also come with hardware subsidies.
  • T-Mobile offer prepaid plans. Its upgraded HSPA+ network offers 4G-like speeds, though it is not technically a 4G technology.

Customers mostly support T-Mobile’s customer service and flexible network plans, while its detractors focus mainly on the unusual amount of dropped calls.

metropcs logo

5. MetroPCS

MetroPCS is the 5th largest network carrier in America with coverage in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and California. Metro uses CDMA technology and offers unlimited minutes as a feature of all its calling plans. A prepaid carrier, it doesn’t require a contract from any customer and it doesn’t place restrictions on the time of day when you call. However, any basic services on the other carriers like voicemail and caller ID can cost extra, and the data network isn’t as fast as national providers.

The MetroPCS Facts:

  • International coverage is very limited.
  • Most plans include unlimited talk, text and Web browsing.
  • MetroPCS has a growing 4G LTE network, but its 3G service is still very limited.
  • MetroPCS doesn’t require contracts and doesn’t offer service rebates and its cell phones are more expensive than with other carriers.
  • MetroPCS isn’t nationwide, but it has various roaming agreements with several partners for nationwide service.
  • Some basic services will be extra depending on the plan.

MetroPCS customers complain most about its lack of coverage while its supporters rave about its low prices and excellent customer service.




Yellow Jacket is a case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S that doubles as a 650,000 volt stun gun to defend against attackers and thieves. The company recently ran a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo that offered an exclusive Early Bird special price of $85 for the iPhone case. They will normally retail for $125 with your choice of color in black, white, or pink.  

A couple of inventers from Baton Rouge, Louisiana have created a case for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S that is also secretly a powerful stung un. The idea behind the product is to have a practical self-defense tool added to something that you already have on you at all times.

There are plenty of individuals with pepper spray and Tasers in their purses or on their keyrings, but usually these do no good when a surprise attack happens. It’s pretty safe to assume however that you’d be far more likely to have your smartphone on you at all times.

Yellow Jacket founder Seth Froom came up with the idea after actually being robbed at gunpoint in his own home. He even created a re-enactment clip to go along with the product’s advertisement campaign video.

Froom says that he was frustrated that even the guns he had in his home couldn’t protect him at the time, since they were out of reach during the break-in, and resolved to come up with a defensive weapon that would be on him at all times.  This is a pretty safe assumption to make considering that most people who are about to be mugged are probably already thumbing through their iPhones anyway.

The stun gun, which looks a lot like your regular run of the mill iPhone case, delivers a shocking 650,000 volt zap of electricity, and has its own built-in battery. The electric charge is enough to bring down a “fully grown, aggressive, adult male,” says Froom. Unlike regular stun guns however, which can take several seconds to locate and use, the Yellow Jacket is easily deployable with one hand and ready to zap would-be attacked in less than two seconds.

The Yellow Jacket Case has another effective use for your iPhone that’s great as well. The case is able to extend your iPhones battery life to 20 additional hours. A switch on the bottom changes the power from the stun gun standby to actively charge your iPhone. Just make sure that you don’t use too much of the battery or the case will become virtually useless for self-defense.

That is of course unless you throw the thing at your attacker. The case alone weighs around the same as the iPhone (4 ounces) so using it doubles your smartphone’s weight to over 8 ounces. The unit is a total of 1 inch thick and adds a total of 3/8 of an inch to the height of the device. A bit bulky but suitable for a concealed defensive weapon when you think about it.

But let’s address the elephant in the room here. Just how smart is it to place a 650,000 volt5 weapon next to your face when  you’re having a quick chat? Luckily, the case has a couple of safety features to prevent those lively accidental misfires. The Yellow Jacket iPhone case has a rotating electrode cap that blocks off the dangerous part until needed and a safety switch disables the device. These precautionary mechanisms should “prevent unintentional shocks from occurring,” says Yellow Jacket’s creators.

“I do see a lot of mishaps and drunken bar tricks happening,” says PC World’s Cocilova, but I also “see a lot of good coming from a device like this.” The team claims that in less than a second, both of these features can be disabled and ready to take on an assailant.

The Yellow Jacket is being pitched on fundraising site, and will be available in three colors: Black, white, and pink. The Taser case will eventually retail for $125, but right now, the price tag is $85. Interested parties are advised to check with local law enforcement for state restrictions beforehand. And fret not, non-iPhone owners — Yellow Jacket creators say an Android version is on the way.

I see a lot of good coming from a device like this. If there was a chance anyone could have a stun-gun on their phone, it may ward off the next purse-snatcher. However, I do see a lot of mishaps and drunken bar tricks happening as well because shocking yourself just wasn’t as funny as you thought it would be. And you’ll want to check with your local law enforcement agency to see if there are any restrictions on carrying something like this.


Israeli entrepreneur Izhar Gafni has created the most lightweight, renewable fully-functioning bicycle of all time – one made entirely of recycled cardboard and costs only $9.

"It was difficult to explain my ultimate vision with the bikes, which led me to understand that I need to devote more time towards developing a more comfortable design, lighter and more impressive." - Izhar Gafni

With every new bicycle concept released, prototypes will try and become more lightweight at less cost than its predecessors. But if someone told you they could do all of the above from a couple of pieces of cardboard, would you  believe it? Probably not, and I wouldn’t blame you. But it would seem that the impossible has been made possible by Israeli bike enthusiast and entrepreneur Izhar Gafni.

Inspired by an inventor who made a canoe out cardboard materials, Gafni has made a fully-functioning professional bicycle made of highly durable recycled cardboard materials that cost him less than ten bucks.

Gafni’s revolutionary bike prototype utilizes recycled cardboard instead of aluminum or metal and is said to be able to accommodate a person up to 300 pounds. Besides having a very low production cost – between $9 to $12 per bike – the prototype is also incredibly durable, eco-friendly, lightweight and easily carried. Because of its low cost, it is also far less likely to be stolen in urban areas as compared to its pricier counterparts.

Gafni initially ran his idea by some engineers who told him that it was nothing more than a fantasy, otherwise impossible. But he didn’t let that stop him. Gafni worked on his concept even harder and continued to develop his ultra-green and incredibly inexpensive project.

Many work hours and failed designs later, he was able to make an attractive bicycle made entirely out of recycled cardboard that is strong enough to support even the largest of riders, can hold up to humidity and water, and costs about the same as a combo meal at Burger King. But of course, that price tag doesn’t include the huge amount of work Gafni put into it.

The bicycle initially went through a staggering amount of prototyping and tweaking. The final product was dipped in a coating material resin solution that gives it a shiny, appealing outer shell and protects it from harsh weather and other common elements. You really couldn’t tell it was cardboard just by looking at it.

“My first prototypes looked like delivery boxes on wheels,” Gafni says. “They were hefty and it didn’t take much imagination to see that they were made of cardboard. When I met with investors it was difficult to explain my ultimate vision with the bikes, which led me to understand that I need to devote more time towards developing a more comfortable design, lighter and more impressive.”

By repeatedly folding the cardboard to give additional sturdiness, the bike frame is able to support an impressive max weight of 300 pounds, and is also able to withstand common natural elements like humidity, dirt, mud, oil and water.

The cardboard bicycle design could realistically make its way into the hands of buyers all around the world. It would be one of the most inexpensive bike solutions on the market, but not likely to hold up as long as a normal bike. But perhaps the best feature is if you bought one and later had it stolen, it wouldn’t be such a big loss.

Although it’s still uncertain whether or not Gafni plans to produce the bike for commercial purposes, the idea is a sustainable and affordable way for a low cost ride. At $9 a bike, retail value for the cardboard bike would be well below $100, making the option of going green and living a healthier lifestyle by choosing to bike over drive is far more likely. Since Gafni painted his own bicycle, I can also see some potential customization options available for the general consumer market. Gafni estimates that the bike could be sold by retailers for around $60 to $90 dollars, cheaper than some of the most inexpensive metal bikes out there.

Just to be safe, let’s say we just double the price of raw materials which brings us to roughly $24, if we consider the higher end prices. Double it again and you have $48 to a store.

If Gafni’s calculations about the retail price range are correct, that would be a minimum of a 25% mark up, and as much as an 85.5% margin at the top end.

To sum up, this could be commercially viable for the existing distribution structure, which is an important consideration when bringing a product into the market.

In addition, the prototype characteristics and price combination could be extremely attractive to general consumers. If some economies of manufacturing scale could bring the bike to the lower price, you could have a cheap bike for adults could withstand moisture and also be lightweight. If someone, for any reason, steals the bike (and it’s a long shot anyone would bother with something so cheap), the replacement cost would be negligible. This might be the kind of product that could even appeal to the hospitality industry – a great choice for hotels, inns, and even high class resorts.

In either sense, it’s fantastic to see the progress of sustainable innovation created right in someone’s own backyard, especially because of Gafni’s refusal to accept impossible as an answer.

Check out this video below and see how the $9 Cardboard Bike became a reality and what it looks like in action:



While this pair of fully robotic legs aims to master humanoid movement, one central component within the machine could also allow it to help paraplegics learn how to walk again.

A team of researchers from the University of Arizona have successfully developed the world’s most physiologically correct pair of robotic legs. Mimicking human walking required reconstructing the complete human neural, skeletal and muscular systems. The researchers then simplified the sensory feedback systems and used these models to recreate human walking with a robot.

The robotic legs are regulated by an artificial central pattern generator (CPG). The CPG in human anatomy is a neurological system of connections found in the spinal cord (near the torso) that is responsible for producing and sending cadenced electric muscle signals throughout the body. These muscle signals are harmonized by the CPG as it responds to external stimuli. It’s because of the CPG that we are able to walk around rhythmically without actually thinking about walking.

A simplified form of a CPG is known as a half center and is comprised of two neurons alternating their production of an electric muscle signal. The researchers have created an artificial clone of a half center that generates electric signals and gathers feedback from sensors in the robotic legs. For example, its load sensor notices pressure changes when the angle of the surface being walked on has increased or decreased slightly. As a result, these robot legs can walk with the same effortlessness as a healthy adult human.

The research team’s goal was to uncover the unsolved mysteries behind how humans learn to walk as babies and to better understand the various steps that are involved in walking.

“Interestingly, we were able to produce a walking gait, without balance, which mimicked human walking with only a simple half-center controlling the hips and a set of reflex responses controlling the lower limb” said Dr Theresa Klein, co-author of the study. The current hypothesis is that, even before they learn to walk, babies already have a simple half-center, just like the one in the robot. As they gain more experience, the neural network learns how to support more complex walking behavior.

“This underlying network may also form the core of the CPG and may explain how people with spinal cord injuries can regain walking ability if properly stimulated in the months after the injury,” added Dr Klein.

Ultimately, these robotic legs will help scientists better understand spinal cord injuries and, perhaps most significantly, identify how to help paralyzed individuals walk again on their own. For that reason alone, this development could be pretty incredible.


Podtime, the first of its kind in the UK, makes it easy for people to take a short period of rest during the day. The enclosed pods are fitted with a high quality, comfortable mattress and pillows and are peacefully quiet, providing the perfect conditions to re-energize and get back on track after that stressful meeting or tiring business trip.

It’s midway through work and you’d like to take a short nap during a break, but you don’t want to take just any ordinary nap. Then you’d probably love napping sci-fi style in a nearly indestructible polycarbonate tube with frosted doors equipped with the latest technological advancements. If that’s the case, check out Podtime Sleeping Pods!

Podtime was founded by English entrepreneur Jon Gray, who spent much of his London career at Merrill Lynch, and knows only too well how demanding the lifestyle can be, as well as the benefits of a little rest.

Gray says ‘Podtime was set-up to have a positive influence on people’s work at a reasonable price. Sometimes we all need a quick re-charge and now that service is available during the day, within minutes of all Bank workers.’ Gray plans to expand Podtime across the financial centers of London, with the aim to promote a healthier and more alert capital.

A $2,100 Podtime includes a high quality, comfortable mattress and pillows made to fit to the tube’s exact dimensions and “outstanding air circulation”. The Podtime sleeping pods fold down into flat packs for portability and storage. Since each sleeping pod weighs close to 220 pounds, you probably wouldn’t want to carry it around on your morning commute, but it could be moved around on occasion as needed.

And if you’re one of those already thinking how these pods promote uniformity, think again! Podtimes are fully customizable. You can select from a variety of colors and addons such as a secret luggage compartment, TV, ear plug sets, foam and faux-leather covered mattress, and digital radio. The pods themselves boast 15mm wall thickness to keep out noise and are ventilated to allow a flow of clean air. Other design features include a digital clock so that workers do not oversleep and the ability to lock the pod from the inside, ensuring that belongings are secure.

Well the next question I went ahead and asked myself was, “Who really needs an expensive sleep pod anyway?” Well you could make it your own personal office sanctuary for one. It could be the latest thing in luxury camping. And since the pods are stackable, you would have some of the coolest bunk beds ever made.

“Podtime and napping; this is definitely the way forward. As technology continues to develop at warp speed, we find ourselves increasingly limited in terms of how much information we are able to process on a moment by moment basis. The human brain, as sophisticated as might seem, is still developing its capacity to deal with the volume of incoming information traffic that we have to handle in our daily lives. I see the effects of this in my professional and clinical work as loss of productivity, insomnia, burnout and other serious health problems. Enlightened individuals and organizations will increasingly have to look for clever ways of going ‘offline’ in order to optimize productivity, health and wellness. Maybe businesses will even start to see that this is where a competitive advantage may lie,” says Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, author of ‘Tired but Wired’.

“I just wanted to say thank you for the service provided during our order. From order to dispatch and installation the service provided was exceptional. The Pods installed are well manufactured, solid and functional and when not in use can be easily dismantled quickly and stored away. The personalization service is also fantastic adding branded look to the Pods, by means of logos and color choice, a great cost effective design,” says Jay Vaghela, Building Surveyor of Telehouse.

Already the London Stock Exchange has developed a ‘rest room’ area in the building which included pods as its main feature, along with kitchen, shower, lavatory and a small lounge. This installation allowed critical staff to stay over if necessary for transport strikes or emergency of some kind. Podtimes indeed offer a place to rest and relax for a short time during a particularly hectic or lengthy working day.

Another example of Podtime use is with Interxion, an international data center provider that needs staff to be onsite 24/7, and pods serve as part of their contingency planning. Such data centers host many vital websites so the company must be fully operational at all times, and they have a number of measures in place to allow staff to be on site to make sure none of their servers suffer any down time. Podtimes give staff a comfortable sanctuary in privacy and security in an otherwise functional surrounding.

There’s no mystery that anyone can strongly benefit from a good night’s sleep, but a busy lifestyle in today’s fast paced world can sometimes make it difficult to get your doctor’s recommended nightly amount of sleep.

What’s great to hear is that there is another way to help your body recover itself to its full potential, even if your ideal period of night time sleep is lacking.

Research studies into the science of sleep have concluded that a short amount of sleep during the day can help to accelerate the recovery process your body goes through during regular sleep. Taking a short rest during the day is already a common lifestyle choice in Latin countries, as well as business centers of Japan. Even as little as 15-20 minutes out of your day (power napping as it is more commonly known now) has been proven to restore the body with:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Improved cognitive and reflex performance
  • Better mood and emotional state
  • Improved alertness
  • Renewed motivation
  • Greater capacity to learn
  • Clearer thinking and acuity

Podtimes allow you, your staff, and perhaps even your clients to take advantage of these benefits throughout the day with complete comfort and privacy – making your company a healthier, more productive system.


France-based industrial design student Elie Ahovi’s “Marine Drone” concept could be a possible solution to the difficult but necessary task of cleaning up waterborne garbage.

Robotic Drones have been a popular topic lately in the media. Whether they’re used for surveillance or combat, the idea of drones patrolling our airspace is one that’s not taken lightly or readily accepted by the public. As we continue to discuss and work out compromises to the ethics and legalities of military drones, it’s important to consider that not all robotic drones are created for violence or espionage.

Many of us already enjoy the work of autonomous robots in our daily lives, like the BUFO pool cleaner, the Roomba vacuum, or the Bosch Indego lawn mower.

These self-sufficient drones perform routine tasks that normally take a lot of time away from our daily lives. They also make it possible to do tasks that would be costly or dangerous if carried out by a person. The Marine Drone concept designed by Elie Ahovi and his team of collaborators, is a perfect example of a way drone technology can have a positive impact on society and the planet.

Unlike the military drones that have been the subject of so much controversy, this autonomous robot is designed to operate underwater, and instead of seeking out enemy targets, it will “search and destroy” something equally menacing – ocean garbage.

The world was disgusted to learn of the garbage continent floating off in the Pacific, and now it turns out there’s a whole bunch of them floating around in the other oceans as well. That trash isn’t going anywhere either; it’s just slowly decomposing and poisoning ocean life and environments. It’s just a matter of time before it winds up in our own bodies.

Horrified by the size and scope of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and its counterparts forming in ocean all over the world, Ahovi and his classmates from the French International School of Design decided to come up with an easy, yet sophisticated solution.

Developed with fellow French International School of Design classmates  Adrien Lefebvre, Philomene Lambaere, Marion Wipliez, Quentin Sorel, and Benjamin Lemoal, the Marine Drone would patrol the oceans autonomously, sucking up plastic bottles and garbage into its maw like a butterfly net.

Powered by water-proof batteries, the Marine Drone would have and electric motor to move silently through the water. A sonic emitter would send out and irritating signal to keep aquatic life from coming too close, making sure that only trash goes into its net. When its collection area is full, the Marine Drone would then dock with a nearby mothership, where a maintenance crew would crane the garbage up for collection.

It’s a great concept, and we’d love to see it tested out closer to land first; for starters, they could use a couple of these to clean up New York’s East River. Sure, the thing would occasionally get clogged with cement-shoe-wearing mob informants, but better to work the kinks out here before setting up the deep-sea-going mothership.


After countless debates, theories, and non-human laboratory tests, it seems as though the bionic eye implants are finally going mainstream – first to hit the European market, and then hopefully to the US.

The bionic eye implants are said to restore sight to completely blind patients – but only if the blindness is caused by a faulty retina, like in diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration (which affects millions of senior citizens), or other degenerative eye diseases.

Argus II, the first edition of these bionic eye implants, is already available in Europe. For about 93,800 EUR (115,000 USD), you can receive a four hour procedure to install and antenna behind your eye, and a special pair of camera-equipped glasses that send signals to the antenna.

The antenna is wired into your retina with around 60 electrodes, generating the equivalent of a 60 pixel display for your brain to then interpret. The first human users of the Argus II bionic eye reported that they could see rough shapes and track the movement of objects, and also slowly read large writing. The Argus II was developed by Second Sight, a visual prosthetics company based in Sylmar, California, with offices in Switzerland as well.

Bio-Retina, the second bionic eye implant, was developed by Nano Retina. The Bio-Retina costs a lot less, 48,900 EUR ($60,000 USD) and instead of an external camera, the vision-restoring sensor is actually placed inside the eye, right on top of the retina. The implant procedure only takes 30 minutes and can be performed under local anesthetic. This is the one I’m really excited about.

With patients suffering from macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, the light-sensitive rods and cones in their retinas stop working. The Bio-Retina gives you a 576 pixel resolution sensor right on top of you damaged retina, and 576 electrodes on the back of the sensor implant themselves into the optic nerve. An embedded image processor then converts the data from each of the pixels into electrical pulses that are coded in a way that the brain can translate into different levels of grayscale.

The very best part though, is how the sensor is powered. The Bio-Retina system comes with a standard pair of corrective lenses that modified so that they can fire a near-infrared laser beam through your iris to the sensor at the back of your eye.

On the sensor there is a photovoltaic cell that produces up to three milliwatts of power – just enough for the Bio-Retina to operate properly. The infrared laser is invisible and considered harmless.

Human trials of the Bio-Retina are set to begin in 2013 – but just like the Second Sight Company, US approval could still take quite some time. But it’s relatively simple to just fly over to one of the European clinics offering bionic eye implants – especially if you can afford a $60,000-$115,000 operation.

In the future, many research organizations will be working bionic eyes with even more electrodes, yielding a higher resolution as a result, but there doesn’t seem to be any progress on sensors or encoder chips that can successfully recreate a color image. A lot of progress has been made in understanding how the retina, optic nerve, and brain process and perceive images, but we still have a long way to go. But who knows what the future has in store?


The Legend of Zelda is a classic NES title released in 1987 and was a huge commercial success. Even with NES emulators, it still remains popular even today. Here are a few classic cheats for the traditional NES user and some cheat codes for the NES emulator user.

Legend of Zelda Cheats for NES emulators

There are various custom codes that people develop throughout the net to customize and work around the Legend of Zelda as they see fit, but they lack uniformity and are usually difficult to work with. Game Genie codes offer the best cheats without drastically altering the game’s setup, and works fairly well within an NES emulator. The Game Genie was a nifty device back in the late 80s that developed specific cheats for all of your NES favorites. Some NES emulators integrated the Game Genie cheat programs into their software to add to the already nostalgic effect of playing the NES. The fact is, everyone used cheats back in the day and still love to today. It’s good for a fun, relaxing run of the game after you’ve nearly died of frustration through the game normally. Nestopia is a very good NES emulator that incorporates the Game Genie cheat codes.  You can download Nestopia free from the internet and install on your hard drive or on custom USB drives for portability.

The Legend of Zelda Game Genie NES cheat codes:

  • Be invincible (Take zero damage from enemies) – AVVLAUSZ
  • Make all items available for free – SZVXASVK + AEVEVALG
  • Infinite weapon: Bombs – SZNZVOVK
  • Make character with 8 life hearts – YYKPOYZZ
  • Make character with 16 life hearts – NYKPOYZX
  • Wear a red ring – OSKUILTA
  • Wear a blue ring – ESKUILTA
  • Keep rubies when purchasing items – SZVXASVK


Legend of Zelda Cheats for NES

Save game without dying

Here’s how you save the game without taking the time to die properly. For this you’ll need a second controller. Press start on controller 1 (this is the controller you’re using for 1st player). This will bring up the pause screen menu. Then press Up + A button on controller 2. The save screen will then appear but you won’t have the option of retry.  You can also press Up + Start on controller 2 for a quick save.

No charge for a broken door

For this you’ll need a second controller. Press both A and B buttons on controller 2 immediately after the old man asks Link to pay for the broken door.

Steal items without being noticed

Go to the store in the game. Take an item off the shelf and walk around the guy behind the counter in a clockwise direction. Leave the ship when he has his back turned to still the item.

Start game at Second Quest

In order to do this you would have needed to beat the game at least once. When you start, enter your name as ZELDA. You’ll start at the second quest with most of the items.

“The Case of the Missing Door”

This is a pretty well known cheat (although technically it’s a glitch). When you first enter Level 1 in the First Quest of the game, immediately leave and re-enter the area. The locked door in the area will be gone.

Kill Gohma quick and easy

Before you enter Gohma’s room, get your bow and arrows ready. Go inside and quickly shoot an arrow. Gohma will be right in front of you with his eye open so you end up killing him with one shot.

Refill Red-colored Water of Life

Once you use a red-colored Water of Life it will turn blue. This basically means that you can only use it one more time before you no longer have it. You can “refill” it without buying a second Red-colored Water of Life. When you’re Red Water of Life is blue, go to the Old Woman and buy a Blue Water of Life. This will make your Blue Water of Life into a Red one.

Fewer Enemies in an area

Kill all the enemies in a particular area screen except for one. The next time you go through this area there will only be the one enemy you left there, so you don’t have to fight all of them again.

Restore your health automatically

For this you’ll need a second controller. Go to a Lake of a Great Fairy when you health gauge is low to restore it. As you approach the lake, your health gauge will slowly begin to fill up. As this is happening, press Start on controller 1 and enter the item selection screen. As you do this, your health gauge will continue to fill up. Press Up+A on the second controller to return to the Save menu. Select Save, a load your character’s file. Once it’s loaded, instead of remaining at the default of 3 hearts, you character ill have its health fully restored right at the start.


Burner app for iPhone allows you to create disposable numbers that expire after a week.

Phone numbers are a personal thing, a literal link between you and the rest of the world, whatever it may contain. This is exactly why many people don’t like to toss around their digits. You don’t want just anyone calling or texting you.

But what if you could create a disposable phone number for those situations when you want someone to call, but don’t want them to call forever? Well, now there’s an app for that too.

Officially launched on August 8th, Burner for iPhone lets you create as many disposable phone numbers as you like. And each number only works for a limited amount of time. Just to be clear, these numbers are not “fake” numbers — they work just like your regular number, and accept both voice calls and text messages. The difference is each disposable Burner number expires after seven days, or 20 minutes of talk time, whichever comes first.

“Phone numbers are part of an old network that is getting dumber, in relative terms, by the day,” said Greg Cohn, founder and CEO of AdHoc Labs, which created Burner, in a statement. “You give out your number, and it’s all or nothing; it’s out there forever. And in the era of Facebook and social networking, we know the phone can be a lot smarter. Burner is the first piece of this vision.”

In addition to both sending and receiving calls and texts through a disposable Burner number, users can also label each number with the name of whomever you gave the digits to, share the number through Facebook or Twitter, and turn off all notifications from each number individually. It’s also possible to “burn” a number (delete it) at any time.

So, when would one want disposable phone numbers? Giving out a number to strange, smitten bar patrons is one obvious example, or if you’re selling something through Craigslist or another classified ad service. Perhaps you’re a secret agent attempting to rendezvous with an Uzbek drug lord. Maybe you are a drug lord! Really, anytime you want to make sure a relationship is temporary Burner’s got your back.

Burner is available now to users in the U.S. and Canada through the iTunes App Store for an initial cost of $2, which gives you one Burner number. Each additional Burner number costs $2 more.


Google is now an official Internet service provider with the launch of Google Fiber, which will provide 1 gigabit Internet access and TV service.

“Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average broadband. No more buffering. No more loading. No more waiting. Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the Web,” Google said in a blog post.

Initially, Google Fiber will only be available in Kansas City – Kansas and Missouri – and will only roll out after enough people in a given neighborhood sign up for the service.

Google today encouraged residents in the region to pre-register and get their neighbors to sign on, too. Pre-registration is $10 and is open until Sept. 9, at which point Google will see how many people have signed up and decide where Google Fiber will roll out. Neighborhoods need between 5-25 percent of homes to sign on in order for it to be cost effective, Google said.

Google is offering three service packages.

The Web-only Gigabit Internet plan is $70 per month and includes a network box with advanced Wi-Fi and 1TB of cloud storage. The selection includes a one-year service agreement, though you can waive that by paying the $300 installation fee.

With Gigabit + Google Fiber TV, Google promised hundreds of channels and on-demand shows, as well as 2TB of DVR storage and eight tuners. Subscribers will get a new Nexus 7 tablet, which will serve as a remote control. The package will cost $120 per month and include a two-year contract unless you pay the $300 construction fee.

A list of available TV channels is on the Google Fiber website and they include Viacom channels like MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. Missing at this point are Disney-owned channels like ESPN, the Disney Channel, and ABC Family, so Google has likely not secured a deal with Disney just yet. Premium channels like Showtime and Starz are on the list, but HBO and Cinemax are not.

“This channel lineup is only a representative lineup and is subject to change,” Google said in the fine print.

Google is also offering free Internet service to those who pay the $300 construction fee. Subscribers will get 5 Mbps Internet access at no monthly cost, though they can spread the $300 fee out over 12 months. Google promised that the free Internet option will be available for at least seven years.

None of the plans include data caps, Google said.

What if you have a service issue? Google said its customer support line will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. CST on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The company also has a “Fiber Space” in Kansas City, MO. where customers can speak with a Google Fiber team member, but it’s unclear if Google Fiber technicians would be on call like other U.S. cable providers.

Google expects to have fiber connections built to the top 50 percent of “fiberhoods” by mid-2013. After Sept. 9, the company will publish a calendar with an estimated construction order.

Google first announced that it would develop ultra high-speed broadband networks back in Feb. 2010. At the time, it promised fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections that are “100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.” By March 2011, Google selected Kansas City for its first network, and earlier this year there were rumors that the search giant would also be offering TV service.

In a statement, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski championed Google Fiber. “Abundance in broadband speeds and capacity – moving from megabits to gigabits – will unleash breakthrough innovations in healthcare, education, business services, and more,” he said. “Today’s announcement by Google, the Gig.U projects across the country, and similar continued advances by providers and municipalities are important and welcome developments that are pushing frontiers in speed and bandwidth, while also enhancing consumer choice.”

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