All posts filed under: Consumerism

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Keep It To Yourself: Shaped Crusaders

Take a look at the picture above.  Do you know what it is?  Can you identify it?  Of course you can!  You probably remember its catchy “Gimme a break” jingle.  You might even be snacking on one right now.  The four-columned, snaptastic confection is so universally recognizable that its very shape is a trademark.  Or so one would think. Can shapes be trademarked?  The answer is yes, but unfortunately not the beloved KitKat bar.  Here’s why… In order for a 3D shape to be a trademark it’s got to be so distinctive that when people see it they know exactly what product it represents, and who makes that product. For example, you see one of these artifacts to the right and you recognize it as the container of the most ubiquitous high-calorie soft drink on Earth.  You may not know that Coca-cola was invented by a Confederate Colonel to cure his morphine addiction, or how much blow was in the original recipe, or that it was first sold as a medicinal cure for dyspepsia, headache and …

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Product Review: ALCATEL ONETOUCH IDOL 3 Android Phone and ALCATEL ONETOUCH WATCH

For the past two weeks, I’ve been testing the ALCATEL ONETOUCH IDOL 3 Android phone, and the ALCATEL ONETOUCH WATCH. I’ve never used a smart watch, and I’ve been using a Samsung Galaxy 4 for over a year, so what I think about either of these devices will be based on these two facts. ALCATEL ONETOUCH WATCH The ALCATEL ONETOUCH has a sleek, round design, looking more like a traditional watch than the other, more rectangular smart watches. Because it is carrying around computer technology and a long lasting battery, it’s heavier than your average Timex. However, as any connoisseur of fine watches will tell you, fancy wristwatches can get pretty weighty, and I didn’t find the ONETOUCH watch to be too heavy on my wrist. The watch I was asked to test was dark red/volcano black, which I found very sporty, with a touch of class. Many people commented on how nice the watched looked, and then were excited that it was a smart watch. The watch will be available in classic chrome/dark gray …

market

Keep It To Yourself: 50 States of Grey

Just so you know, this isn’t a sexy article.  It’s about recent legal developments concerning grey market goods; not some pervy tycoon and his obsession with nubile coeds.  Sorry! Now then, what are Grey Market goods?  In a nutshell they’re legally made products that are sold through unauthorized channels.  For example, drugs imported from Canada can cost a fraction of what you’d pay your local CVS under your fabulous health care plan.  They’re the same meds in the same packaging, but the price is far less than what Pfizer can charge domestically for them.  Their “greyness” is determined not by their authenticity, but by the fact that they’re distributed unofficially, or in a manner that the manufacturer did not foresee or intend. Black Market goods, by contrast, are products that may not be sold legally, either because they’re counterfeit (think $50 Rolexes) or of a type that may be genuine but are officially verboten to traffic in.  Weapons of Mass Destruction, say.  There are also Green Market goods, which used to mean recycled or refurbished …

MoviePass

Product Review: MoviePass

MoviePass is an all access pass to movie theaters nationwide in the United States. For a flat monthly fee you get access to any releases in 95% of theaters nationwide. There aren’t any blackout dates and all first run major releases are available. The only restrictions are 3D movies and you can’t see more than one film within a 24-hour period. When you join MoviePass you will receive a MoviePass VIP card that you use at anywhere major credit cards are accepted. The way it works is simple: With the MoviePass App (available on both iOS and Android), you check into the theater and movie you want to see You use your MoviePass VIP card to pick up your ticket at the kiosk. It couldn’t be any simpler, although there area few things I would change (more on that later). I waited a month to write my review of MoviePass because I wanted to see if I’d get my money’s worth before offering my opinion. At $35/month, you think you’d have to be a hardcore …

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Product Review: Onkyo LS3100 Envision Cinema 2.1-Channel Bluetooth Speaker System

Looking to beef up your home theater system, but don’t have a ton of room or a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket? Onkyo is here to help. To prove it, here’s the LS3100 Envision Cinema Speaker System, a three-piece setup that’s as simple to set up as its sound is beefy. Designed to combat “thin sound” using “an immersive 3D soundfield using just two speakers,” it’s a sleek mid-priced alternative for folks who aren’t in the market for a true 5.1/7.1 system, but who are still looking for something more powerful than their television’s speakers. Perhaps more impressively, it’s also a good fit for people whose tech skills run toward the Luddite end of the spectrum. How simple is it? I had my LS3100 wired up within 10 minutes of opening the box, and that includes taking out the parts and connecting the wires. For your money, you get a receiver, two satellite speakers (designed to sit on sculpted stands that can also be used to mount them into the wall), …

Noelle Johnson Chair 600

Noelle Johnson’s ‘Beautiful Soul’ Tackles Healthy Body Image Issues, Beautifully

As part of an ongoing series, POPDOSE explores the positive portrayal of women in pop culture. Last year, we discussed how British teen pop star Cher Lloyd was strangely repackaged for US audiences. The hot topic also came up in our conversations with Gabriella Cilmi, Crystal Bowersox, Brittany McDonald and Orianthi among others. Joining the conversation is Noelle Johnson, a singer/songwriter from Sequim, Washington on the breathtaking Olympic Peninsula. Not only is her single ‘Beautiful Soul’ a timely and positive message, it’s also one of the best songs we’ve heard this year. I personally keep it on near constant iPod rotation. This is a song to be shared with all of the women and girls in your life — not to mention anyone who is into Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men and the Lumineers. We absolutely love the video for “Beautiful Soul.” Was it inspired by your own journey, your friends, the media or a little bit of everything? NOELLE JOHNSON: First of all thank you so much for a chance to chat with …

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Pre-Review: Nokia Lumia 920

As some of you may know, for the past six years or so I’ve lived in the woods of New Hampshire, where things like traffic lights and cell signals have yet to rear their ugly heads. Aside from a couple of cheap Tracfones, I haven’t used a cellphone since 2006, which has honestly been kind of nice — especially in terms of not having to carry a contract. I’m still a man, though, and when the folks at M80 and AT&T got in touch with Popdose about having us review the Nokia Lumia 920, I felt the irresistible allure of the new gadget — and when none of our staffers were interested in writing up the phone, I agreed to take it and report on my findings. This little guy is supposed to show up on my doorstep tomorrow: If you pay attention to new phones, you know the Lumia 920 has been getting solid reviews — Engadget called it “Nokia’s greatest Windows phone yet” — and you might be wondering why AT&T would want …

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2012 Holiday Gift Guide: iPhone-Ready Earbuds

Most of the stuff on sale at the Apple Store, both physical and virtual, tends to be made by Apple itself. Usually if Apple likes a company that makes something that could make its products better, it just buys the company. British company RHA is a special exception, as it sells its line of earbuds directly through Apple. The flagship of their line of just-for-iPhone, iPod, and iPad earbuds are the Ma450is. They offer great sound for hearing nuances even in compressed audio files (as well as glorious, glorious outside noise cancellation) more so than the ubiquitous white earbuds that come with those same Apple products. The extra $49.95 is worth it. More earbud covers than you could possibly use or imagine. While they’re a little hard to get off and on, the upside of that meaning they don’t slip off or make the whole apparatus fall out of your ears when you shift slightly, they come standard with seven slightly different sets to make sure you’ve got absolutely the perfect fit. Certainly no other …

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Keep It to Yourself: Just Desserts?

  I scream, you scream, we all scream for hardcore pornography! Hippie royalty Ben & Jerry were not amused when L.A. smut merchants Caballero Video released a series of dirty DVDs with names and packaging mimicking their wholesome family treats.  The naughty flicks have titles like ‘Boston Cream Thighs, ‘New York Super Fat and Chunky’ and ‘Hairy Garcia.’  [Cue my teenage daughter: ‘Ewww!’]  The line of adult features is promoted under the name “Ben and Cherry’s XXX Ice Cream” (‘Porno’s Finest’) and looks like this: A lawsuit ensued.  I hear my smart, attentive and attractive readers collectively breathing, “So what?  Isn’t this just garden variety parody?”  Answer: NO.  Let’s briefly talk about trademark dilution, specifically tarnishment. Ahem.  Trademark dilution is “the lessening of the capacity of a famous mark to identify and distinguish goods or services, regardless of the presence or absence of (1) competition between the owner of the famous mark and other parties, or (2) likelihood of confusion, mistake, or deception.”  In plain English, dilution law protects a trademarked product when someone makes a …

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Keep It to Yourself: Rosetta Stoned

Q: How does Google make money from your searches?  You know you don’t pay anything when you stalk your ex, scan Kobe’s lifetime stats, or check to see if your witness protection cover’s been blown.  So how does Google profit from your internet curiosity? A:  Google’s AdWords advertisement program. AdWords works like this: You have a word or phrase in mind, you type that word or phrase into Google’s search engine and then you see what comes up.  Instead of charging you, Google auctions ‘keywords’ to third party advertisers.  When you start a search by typing in that keyword you’re directed to websites – or “Sponsored Links” – that include the keyword in their sites.  Google profits when you visit those sponsored links. Is this process legal?  We’re going to find out because Google is being sued for the AdWords program by Rosetta Stone, Inc., the prominent language-learning software company.  Rosetta’s claim is that Google sold its trademarked name (as well as its trademark “language library”) to competitors that make and sell copycat language software.  …

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KEEP IT TO YOURSELF: CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THAT WONDERFUL DUFF!

Everyone knows that Homer Simpson loves beer.  During the long-running animated series The Simpsons Homer has philosophized: “Beer. Now there’s a temporary solution.”  He’s also threatened “I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer” and fondly concluded, “Ah, good ol’ trustworthy beer.  My love for you will never die.”  Everyone also knows that Homer’s brew of choice is Duff Beer. Duff Beer doesn’t actually exist, of course: it’s a fictional brand.  Simpsons creator Matt Groening has stated that he doesn’t want to license the Duff trademark for a real beer because it might encourage kids to drink.  This doesn’t mean folks haven’t tried to brew and sell Duff Beer before, though, and the attempts to cash in on the popular cartoon quaff just keep on comin’. In the mid-90s, Australian brewery Lion Nathan sold a beer called Duff.   Although the product’s labeling made no reference to the Simpsons and did not include any of its characters (like popular brand spokesman Duffman), 20th Century Fox successfully forced Lion Nathan to discontinue …

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Popdose Roundtable: Ticketmaster Joins Forces with Facebook

From Mashable: Ticketmaster, the event ticketing property of Live Nation, is enhancing its interactive seat maps so that ticket buyers and event-goers can see where their Facebook friends are sitting, and tag themselves into their seats. The idea, says Ticketmaster executive vice president of ecommerce Kip Levin, is to return the ticket-buying experience to its pre-web social origins. “Online took away from the old experience of going down to the record store to purchase tickets,” he says. “This is a way to go back to that.” Annie Logue: Naturally, there will be an extra “social experience” surcharge… Dave Lifton: I’m always skeptical any time some corporate bigwig says, “We’re trying to recapture the way it was done back then,” especially when said corporation is the one that killed the way it used to be. Dw. Dunphy: Yes, and honestly, I was no big fan of running down to the record store for tickets anyway. At least in the privacy of my own home, I could be privately indignant that all the good seats got pre-bought …

The Great Gross-Off: Three-Way Breakfast Cereal Battle Royale!

The Great Gross-Off is probably my oldest Web series, and also my most infrequent, so I won’t blame any of you for not remembering that when I started it — way, way back in 2005, during the Internet Cro-Magnon Era — each installment was supposed to pit junk food against junk food in a battle for who could fill me with the least amount of regret. Problem is, I’m an impatient guy, and also (unfortunately), new novelty cereals don’t come out every week, and also also, there are things I’m simply unwilling to eat. (One of many reasons why this series will always be a pale shadow of the one that inspired it: The Sneeze’s wonderful, wonderful Steve, Don’t Eat It!) The end result is that it’s been over a year since I braved the sugary depths of the breakfast aisle. Which is awful. But I’m here to make it up to you with not one, not two, but three new LIMITED EDITION “food”stuffs for your consumption. Remember: breakfast is the most important meal of …

Consumerism: Industrial Movies and the Ford Rouge Tour

Troy McClure made the industrial film a legend. In his brief life, Troy narrated such films as “Lead Paint: Delicious but Deadly” and “Meat and You: Partners in Freedom”. He also did the more tourist-friendly “Welcome to Springfield Airport” and the introductory video to the “Ah! Fudge” chocolate factory. McClure’s work resonates with us because, well, it’s so typical of the genre. Ford Motor’s River Rouge Assembly Plant is open to the public, which is pretty cool. It also has not one, but two, industrial films The Rouge was the centerpiece of Ford’s emphasis on seamless integration. Here, the ore, coal, and other raw materials would arrive via ship, and then be turned into steel, parts, and finally cars. The facility has changed a lot over the years. It now houses the assembly line for the Ford F150 truck, the company’s best-selling model, and employs about 6,000 people – down from peak employment of 100,000.

Consumerism: The Graceland Mansion Tour

Memphis has a lot of attractions for music fans, all of which seem to exist to help people fill up a weekend and spend lots of money. Only one really matters, though: Elvis Presley’s mansion, Graceland. The pilgrimage has been parodied in “This is Spinal Tap”, self-parodied in U2’s “Rattle and Hum”, and made out to be a place of miracle and wonder. The house itself is a center-hall colonial, large for the time but tiny by modern McMansion standards. It’s on a nice chunk of land in what was once a gracious suburb, Whitehaven. Graceland has been diminished by the passage of time, and not only because big houses are so common now. The jungle room looks a lot like a goofy basement rec room. The three televisions in the basement look comical in an era of home theatre. And Elvis lacked the same sense of quality as the squires of other historic houses. The Washingtons, du Ponts, and Kaufmanns put care into Mount Vernon, Winterthur, and Fallingwater. Elvis, meanwhile, was a country bumpkin …