Archive for January, 2008

Cameras with blink/smile recognition

January 25, 2008 Leave a comment

E1050In the never ending quest to find the feature that sells a bucketload, General Electric is to launch a range of compact cameras in the UK with blink and smile recognition. The models will warn when someone in the photo you just took was blinking, so you can take another snap. They will also focus on smiling faces.
No definite pricing on these yet, but reghardware are claiming prices of £60 for the 7 megapixel A735, £120 for the 8 megapixel G2 and £180 for the 12 megapixel E1235. The 10 megapixel E1050 is probably the most interesting at £200, with a built in GPS receiver for geotagging and a HDMI port.

This makes me wonder what gimick the phone makers will try next to differentiate their products. Maybe the credibility filter, to remove anyone too ugly or embarrasing. Or how about a parental filter that removes nudity, drunken behaviour and obscene hand gestures so you can show your parents the lad/ladette holiday shots.

What happened to Virgin Broadband?

January 22, 2008 3 comments

Virgin MediaI’ve been on the Telewest/Virgin Broadband service for many years. So many in fact I can’t remember when I joined. I have emails to my Blueyonder address from early 2001, so that’s at least 7 years. Without wanting to sound like a preachy old git, it used to be a good service. I started on the 512Mb connection, and always got it. 2Mb, 4Mb, 10Mb and now 20Mb speeds have followed, but the last one was a very mixed ‘upgrade’. I was happy with the Telewest Blueyonder 10Mb service. Download speeds were usually over 1 megabyte a second.
Then Virgin took over, and heavily publicised the doubling of broadband speeds. My connection went to 20Mb, but I saw very little speed improvement over the 10Mb service. The biggest shock came when my download speed started dropping. I eventually found out that Virgin were capping the download speed at 5Mb if you used too much bandwidth between 4pm and midnight. I say eventually found out because unlike the 20Mb upgrade Virgin didn’t publicise this change. The 20Mb service is still sold as unlimited, as shown here, or here. No disclaimers, asterisks or anything else to say it’s not an unlimited service. Only it isn’t, as shown here.

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Time Capsule first look

January 20, 2008 1 comment

Time CapsuleThe recently announced Time Capsule wireless router/NAS is due in February (in the UK) for £199 (500Gb) and £329 (1Tb). It’s stated to work with Macs using Time Machine and Windows PC’s as a shared drive, but there’s little info as yet on the interface and access controls. The current Airport Extreme offers users accounts with passwords for restricted access to files and folders, so Time Capsule should offer at least this.
Apple’s usual ease of use is pretty much a given, but does the package offer good value for money? A 500Gb Network Attached Storage box can be bought for £146.86 here. That leaves £53 for a wireless router. You can get a cheap ‘super G’ box for £20.56 here, but that’s not Draft-N standard. I couldn’t find any Draft-N routers that cheap, so the 500Gb Time Capsule at £199 looks like good value.
But what about the 1Tb version? The price difference between a bare 500Gb and 1Tb SATA hard drive is around £120 at the moment, but that’s for a standard drive. Apple states the Time Capsule contains a ‘server grade’ hard drive, so while the 1Tb Time Capsule doesn’t offer the same cost per Mb as the 500Mb unit, it is competitively priced.
Hopefully these boxes will encourage home users to start taking backups a bit more seriously. It’s fine having a computer that makes it easy to store thousands of songs and photo’s, and hundreds of hours of video, but the more it stores the bigger the shock when it all gets lost.

Macworld Expo 2008 roundup

January 20, 2008 4 comments

The annual Macworld Expo in San Francisco has now finished, and several sites have their reviews of events.

Lots of interesting opinions on the announcements, and some very conflicting views. The charge for iPod apps seems to have split users straight down the middle, and the Macbook Air coverage seems to be split between ‘another G4 cube’, ‘nice as a second computer but limited as a first machine’ and ‘I want it now’. The last seems to be limited to geeks and macheads so it may not spread to normal people.

10 useful iPod/iPhone apps

January 17, 2008 1 comment

App InstallerInteresting page here showing some of the applications that are available for the jailbroken iPhone/iTouch. Mostly utilities to make life easier and prettier, but if this is what hackers (and that’s the original meaning) can do with no help, just think what we will be seeing when the SDK is released.

Categories: apple, iPod, phone, software Tags: , , ,

Petition for Free iPod touch apps

January 17, 2008 6 comments

Free iPod AppsPetitiononline has a free iPod touch apps petition that you can sign if you disagree with Apple charging £12.99/$19.99 for the apps that iphone owners get for free. Get everyone you know to sign this one, Apple were shamed into giving $100 back when the iPhone price dropped so it can work.
Also, remember that it’s not just the five apps that are being charged for, but useful features like movable home screen icons and web shortcuts. Consider this a trial of charging for updates.
There’s very mixed opinions on the web about charging for apps given free to iPhone users. The way I see it, you buy a mac and get free updates until the next major version of the OS. This isn’t iPod Touch V2 so why are we being charged? It gets worse when you look at AppleTV V2. A major update, free to current users.
The simple reason for Apple charging for the iPod apps is because it can. The iPhone is still a growing market, so the updates are free. No company yet dominates the market AppleTV is fighting for, Apple wants to grow its market share, so updates are free.
The iPod is dominating the market and doesn’t need any excuse to sell bucketloads, there’s no incentive to increase its appeal to buyers, so updates are not free.
I expect to pay for third party apps when released, as well as Apple added value apps, but this is three widgets, mail and maps. Pretty basic stuff, isn’t it?

Sign up here

Apple Keynote 2008 opinions

January 15, 2008 1 comment

Lets get the big rant out of the way first.


Normal non-shouty blog resumes. I can understand the Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes and Weather apps not being on the original iPod touch. It was an iPod, so did what the previous iPod did when it came to PIM. Not being able to add calendar events was a mistake that was rectified. But this is just taking the piss. All the early adopters that helped make the Christmas quarter such a huge success get shafted. Buy an iPod touch today and get the software for free. How can the company which styles itself as the cool guy fighting Microsoft’s corporation crap on its users like this? Leaves an unpleasant taste after all the other good things that were announced.

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Apple Keynote 2008 in summary

January 15, 2008 1 comment

In order of announcement, here are the new products from the Macworld 2008 Keynote.

  • Time Capsule, an Airport extreme wireless base station with a 500Gb or 1Tb hard drive built in. Intended to allow several Apple laptop users to do wireless backups via Leopard’s Time Machine software. Not sure if this also functions as a standard NAS.
  • iPhone software update pretty much as rumoured, sms multiple contacts, web clipping, video chapters, location aware Google maps. iPod touch to get Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes and Weather, for a $20 charge.
  • iTunes movie rentals are go, $2.99 for the back catalog, $3.99 for new titles. 30 days to start watching once rented, and then 24 hours to finish. US only until later in the year. Biggest news is that Touchstone, Miramax, Newline, Lions Gate, 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Sony, and Universal are all on board.
  • AppleTV gets a big update, with HD movie rentals (with 5.1 surround) for $4.99, direct from the AppleTV with no computer required. Lots of other web integrations added.
  • Fox are adding a digital copy of content to their DVD’s for transfer to digital devices.
  • The Macbook Air is the worlds thinnest laptop. 13.8 inch display, 80Gb Hdd or 64Gb Ssd, 2Gb Ram, 1.6 or 1.8 Ghz core 2 duo, 802.11n, no optical drive. Costs $1799, shipping in two weeks. Possibly the most interesting part is the large multi-touch mouse pad.
Categories: apple, computer, phone, software

Canon launches Vixia HD camcorders

January 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Canon Vixia HF10Looks like there will finally be another option for tapeless HD camcorders. The Canon Vixia HF10 offers full HD recording (1920×1080 resolution) to 16Gb of internal flash memory and SDHC cards. Quoted battery life of 3 hours standard is pretty good too. Due in April in the US for $1,099 this could be what I’ve been waiting for. My current Sanyo Xacti HD2 is fine outdoors in bright light, but poor in lower light conditions. Sony have some nice HD/Hdd models available that are reported to be a bit better, but don’t bother with JVC’s Everio range. Will the Vixia finally offer good low light performance? More details and video here.

Categories: film, media Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Macworld Keynote Predictions

January 11, 2008 Leave a comment

AppleIt’s that time of year again, when Macheads go wild in an orgy of predictions for Steve Job’s keynote speech. Here’s my take on the current rumours.

  • The ultra thin macbook (pro?) with LED backlight and SSD will be announced. I don’t want one, I’m just sick of this story. Please Steve, release it and let us have some new products to dream about.
  • 3G iPhone will not be announced. All the details suggest it’s not due until later in the year, so why announce it now and damage sales of the current model?
  • The cheaper Mac tower rumour is gathering popularity. I’m hoping that this is reality. The case doesn’t have to be as big as the Mac pro, just enough for 2 optical drives, 2 hard drives and some PCI express slots with upgradeable graphics. Could be called the Mac.
  • 10.5.2 will be announced for immediate download, fixing the disappearing servers in the finder sidebar problem. That’s the major annoyance I’ve had with Leopard, so it can’t be too bad (unlike my complaints about Vista)
  • iPhone and iPod touch software v1.1.3 will be announced, with a teaser of some of the software coming soon. Select partners have had early versions of the iPhone SDK so there’s some new apps to show.
  • The Cinema Displays will be updated soon to look like the iMac, but not at the Keynote.
  • I like the Mac Mini and AppleTV V2 merging idea, with basic web browsing and email added to the media functions.
  • iTunes 7.6 or 8 is announced with movie rentals, US only so us UK faithfuls have to wait. Again.
  • Not sure on the 16Gb iPhone idea. It could be introduced at the current price with the 8Gb dropping to £179-£199 to boost sales. The problem is doubling the memory after Christmas could get the same bad press as last years price cut.

That’s my wishes for next Tuesday. I’ll probably be watching the live blogging again with the rest of the fan boys.

Categories: apple, computer, displays, media, phone