Archives For Apple

Last night, while watching live TV (*gasp*), I inadvertently caught the commercial above. And what was I thinking? As “the new Ultrabook [was] inspired by Intel”… not Apple’s Macbook Air. It’s a cute ad and Windows users also deserve both better style and substance in their computing hardware. Further, Microsoft’s hardware partners would prefer higher margins than their dying netbook initiatives provided. But let’s keep it real. This sleek design originated at Apple. Ultimately, what’s most interesting about the advert is the collaboration between Best Buy, Microsoft, and Intel (who owns the “Ultrabook” trademark and powers these devices) attempting to communicate as a single entity.

After only about two months in the App Store, Roku’s addressed my biggest complaint with their free virtual remote control. In addition to navigating one’s digital media streamer by swiping, Roku has now integrated a “standard” D pad option that responds to individual taps. While it does get the job done, the presentation seems a bit spartan – beyond what I assume are promotional Netflix, Pandora, and Crackle shortcuts that mirror the physical Roku LT remote. And speaking of physical remotes, not all contain the instant replay button – and this oversight should be a primary draw for Roku’s iPhone app. The updated app also includes faster Home screen loading and improved device discovery, having no difficulty locating my latest hardware. However, there’s still no sign of an official Android or iPad app. Should you have just such a need, check out Cassidy Napoli’s “Remoku” creation that enables Roku control via a web browser.

Via a Lifehacker link that crossed my Twitter feed, I discovered Adobe’s blowing out a variety of creative software at 80% off their already drastically reduced educational pricing. Of course, that’s one heck of a caveat – only students and faculty need apply. While I no longer fall into either category, I happen to live with someone who does. And as compelling as Pixelmator ($30) and Acorn ($50) have been, they still don’t compare to Photoshop… which runs a mere $40 via this Adobe deal. However, we opted for the $60 “Design” suite that bundles Illustrator and Acrobat Pro with the ubiquitous Photoshop.

To get in on the offer, visit Adobe’s educational store, add some software to your cart, and, from there, apply the code SAVE80EDU. The Lifehacker comment suggests an educational email address is all that’s needed to qualify for the discount, yet we discovered Adobe requires additional documentation to complete your order – which may take a day or two for a human to manually review and approve.

While running errands at the mall, I swung by the relatively new Microsoft Store. And, as you can see from the pic above, they’ve done a nice job duplicating Apple’s iconic store design… with the addition dark woodgrain surfaces (bad) and rich projection displays (good). Not to mention red store employee t-shirts replace Apple’s blue.

Speaking of those store employees, two confirmed reports that they’re accepting $25 deposits on the flagship Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone (on AT&T). However, as I tweeted, it’s pretty absurd to pre-order a device that has no announced launch date or pricing. So, of course, I pushed the staff for details. They stated rather factually that I could request white or black Lumia 900 hardware which they expect to release in the second half of March, after the 15th. Unfortunately, they weren’t so certain on pricing. One employee figured the Nokia handset would run about $200, while the other conferred with the manager who wasn’t given concrete details but inferred it’d be made available between $150 – $199.

The timing lines up well with the rumored March 18th launch date, but I’m somewhat bummed they couldn’t (yet?) corroborate a $100 price tag to undercut the competition. Until we know more, the Samsung Focus Flash remains my favorite Windows Phone. But only time will tell if it sees WP8 software and/or Skype video conferencing. Which you can pretty much guarantee will find its way to the Lumia 900.

Hack Your Apple TV

Dave Zatz —  January 29, 2012

appletv-remote

Don Reisinger’s out with a column pitching the Xbox 360 as an Apple TV replacement. While we’re big fans of the 360 (and PS3) as an all-purpose digital media solution, it doesn’t offer the elegant simplicity of a Roku ($50 – $100) or Apple TV ($99). Further, once you add the remote and (recurring) Xbox Live annual subscription, even the base Xbox 360 console will run you about  three times ($280) the cost of an aTV. And that power brick is still huge. For many, Netflix and YouTube are the streaming tentpole supplements to Apple’s iTunes ecosystem. And it’s really no longer the walled garden it once was with content partners such as NHL and Vimeo recently joining the solid prior lineup including MLB, Flickr, and podcast directory.

Having said that, for this class of device, I still generally prefer Roku over Apple TV given it’s broader catalog of content partner, USB drive support, and more traditional remote. And why I was thinking of picking up another Roku. But a few Twitter followers convinced me to jailbreak my Apple TV once again, instead of investing in another box. Once jailbroken, apps like XBMC and Plex allow you to get at the media on your home network… and in some cases, beyond. With relatively no downside.

Hacking Apple TV is ridiculously simple these days thanks to Seas0nPass. Continue Reading…

Back in the days when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Macworld overlapped, with Apple actually participating in their namesake convention, news out of San Francisco derailed the events in Vegas January 9th, 2007. While an iPhone announcement wasn’t entirely a surprise, given years of speculation and rumor, the elegant simplicity of both its hardware and software was unlike anything we’d ever before encountered… or even imagined was possible in the mobile space. So despite launching at $500 – $600 without wireless carrier subsidies, as we’re accustomed to in the US , here’s what I concluded:

If the iPhone works as advertised, they’re going to sell a ton and really bring “smart phones” to the masses

Indeed, the iPhone has revolutionized the mobile industry. And then some. But I’ve never been part of the technological masses, dwelling more on the bleeding edge. Which is why, while the iPhone’s sex appeal tempted and I closely monitored its launch, I was something of a late adopter. Steve Jobs proclamation that Apple was five years ahead of the competition didn’t move me as I couldn’t see comfortably downgrading from 3G speeds to 2G EDGE and giving up Exchange synchronization or third party apps, like SlingPlayer Mobile. Not to mention the reservations I had in using a completely virtual keyboard and forgoing my trusty stylus. Of course, at some point I could no longer combat the allure and augmented my phone collection with a first gen iPhone. But it wasn’t actually until 2010 that I declared Apple’s mobile operating system feature complete and, along with GPS nav and improved camera optics, made the iPhone my primary mobile companion.

In regards to what comes next… The iPhone app ecosystem is massive and something many of us have come to rely upon – making it difficult to completely abandon Apple at this point. Yet, Siri doesn’t wow me and I pine for better notifications, widgets, and a larger screen. I assume Apple’s cooking up new solutions which will once again inspire and amaze me, but we seem to have returned to a place in time where I’ll take on additional handsets for gadget lust fulfillment.

With CES upon us, USA Today chatted with Sony executive Kaz Harai on wide array of home entertainment topics — including Sony’s foray into cloud services across various platforms and the, perhaps inversely related, decline of Blu-ray sales.

But what I found most interesting are their  “smart” TV intentions. First, Kaz is on target when stating both Sony and their competitors simplify messaging to convey the benefits of an Internet-connected platform. As, while I believe widgetized televisions are selling, I’m not convinced web feature, as currently implemented, see much use. Next, kudos to Ed Baig for this killer question, “Will there be an Apple TV?” To which Kaz reponds,

I’m on my product development guys to do the very best they can to deliver a compelling experience and have competitive product in the market, whether Apple is there or not.

There’s been significant speculation that Apple might enter the television space Continue Reading…