On 7th June Steve Jobs took the stage at the 2010 WWDC to announce the fourth version of the iPhone hardware. Full details of the improvements over the 3GS model have been well covered elsewhere, so here’s a brief summary:
- 960 by 640 pixel display with 800 to 1 contrast ratio using an IPS (same as iPad) panel
- A4 processor, also same as used in the iPad
- Adds 802.11n wireless
- Up to 7 hours talk time (3G), 300 hours standby, 10 hours WiFi internet use, 40 hours audio playback, 10 hours of video playback
- 16 or 32Gb storage
- Available in white or black, with colour edge covers offered
- New 5 Megapixel backside illuminated camera sensor for better low light images
- 640×480 front camera for self portraits and video calls
- LED flash
- 720p video recording
- Three axis Gyroscope
- iMovie software available to run on the phone for $4.99
The standout features for me are the improved camera and 720p video recording. The Apple iPhone camera page has some un-retouched samples at the bottom of the page that can be zoomed to full size. While none of them are really low light (there are a couple of low light smaller examples near the top) they offer quality good enough for holiday snaps. The popular phrase “the best camera is the one you have with you” doesn’t present too much of a compromise for the average consumer. The availability of iMovie for iPhone 4 is a big bonus, though it appears to be limited to the new iPhone with no word on backward compatibility with the 3GS.
My hope is that Apple will provide some way of transferring photo and video from the iPhone 4 to the iPad, where a version of iMovie and iPhoto would provide much easier editing. The iPad camera connection kit could easily do this, and both devices offer wireless connectivity that would make it a cheaper option.
Uk networks O2, Orange and Vodafone have announced availability of the iPhone 4 on 24th June, but have yet to release details of pricing. O2 have promised a limited time offer for those in existing iPhone contracts wishing to upgrade. Hopefully this will match the AT&T offer to cancel up to six months remaining contract if the new iPhone is taken with a new two year contract.
Price wise the new iPhone is $199 for 16Gb and $299 for 32Gb. No word yet on UK pricing but I’m expecting £170 and £260 if the same conversion as the iPad is used.
I’ve mentioned Plex before, a branch of the XBMC software on Macintosh. It’s my media centre of choice, running on the Home Theatre hackintosh I put together a few months ago.
Released a couple of days ago is Plex V8, first release of the new stable branch following on from the development seven series. Download the Mac OS Leopard only dmg , release notes and source code from here. There are several new features and lots of fixes so it’s worth giving Plex a try.
I recently returned to the UK after two weeks in San Francisco and Las Vegas. Unfortunately the free WiFi in the SF hotel was nowhere near as reliable as hoped with my Macbook so there were no updates while abroad. The hotel in Las Vegas wanted $15 a day for WiFi internet and while there are a few free access points (the two nearby Apple stores being the main ones) I didn’t want to spend my holiday lurking around these.
I now have a lot of photo’s and 1080p video to edit, and it’s a fairly straightforward task. I’ve listed my method here to help anyone else in the same position, as this is the easiest way of managing large AVCHD files I have found. Read more…
Having decided to build a hackintosh HTPC in part 1, the next step is picking hardware. This would normally include a display and this project is no different. The display this time though is an LCD television instead of the usual LCD monitor.
I had a short list of potential TV’s and the top was occupied by a couple of Sony models, the 40V4000 and 40W4000. The decision on which to go for would depend on what deals were available as the spec is similar, with the 40W4000 being a 10 bit panel (instead of 8 bit) and adding some multimedia features. Next on the list were Samsung’s 6 series models. A local retailer had an older Samsung 46″ 5 series and a Sony 40L4000 (a cut down 40V4000) hooked up to a Vista PC through a KVM switch, running at something like 1366×768 resolution. I increased the resolution to 1920×1080 and to my surprise the Sony showed an unsupported display mode message while the Samsung looked fantastic. Read more…
For the past few year’s I’ve used an Xbox running Xbox Media Centre to play video files on a TV, streamed from first a Windows machine then a Synology file server. This setup is easy to use and picture quality is fine on a standard definition set. Mrs Basshead has recently become a lot more convinced of the need to upgrade to High Definition after watching a 40 inch Samsung 6 series for a while, so the second requirement (after buying a suitable LCD TV) is a HD capable media streamer. Read more…
Much is said about how much money Film Studios are losing to piracy. You can’t see a film at the cinema now without the piracy warnings. Do the studios ever stop to wonder if that’s the real reason their profits are not where they thinks they should be?
A recent article on Torrentfreak got me thinking about what’s really going on at the cinema. The story concerns a study by the US Pirate Party, a group that claims the real reason for the rise and fall in annual profits is the quality of the films released, not piracy. If so, the ‘piracy’ claims are just hot air from greedy studios that want more money for releasing crap. It’s the old argument, people will pay a fair price for a quality product. The most amazing thing is that these piracy claims and measures are increasing at a time when US cinema takings have hit a record high.
I think there’s a more basic reason for the often claimed drop in cinema attendance. It’s crap. Read more…
I saw the new Batman film ‘The Dark Knight’ yesterday and I’m not sure where to start.The best place is probably that it’s the best comic book film I have seen so far. Spiderman 2 and Xmen 3 were my previous favourites but this left them far behind. The biggest surprise was how much The Dark Knight doesn’t feel like a comic book. As with Batman Begins the various gadgets used are based on advanced military technology so most of them are believable. The characters are portrayed in shades of grey which is a big theme of the film. How far are the good guys willing to go to stop the Joker? Will they compromise their ideals to do so?
In terms of the overall tone there’s much owed to some of the darker Batman graphic novels. The Joker is menacing, brutally ruthless and constantly forcing everyone into impossible moral dilemma’s. Much has been said of Heath Ledger deserving an Oscar for his portrayal of the face painted lunatic, and I agree fully. While his is the standout performance, Aaron Eckhart is excellent as Harvey Dent and the impressively disfigured Two Face. Christian Bale is again perfect as Bruce Wayne and Batman, and gets to shine with a character that could easily become one dimensional and unbelievable in the wrong hands.
Christopher Nolan has created a film that may be remembered as the first truly adult comic book adaptation. It’s currently number one in the IMDB top 250, and deserves to be seen by not just anyone who loves comic book movies but anyone who loves good film.
How hard can this be? Sample video from the Sony HDR-TG3E (TG1 in the USA) has started appearing online and I’ve downloaded some to have a look at on my Mac. The video files are in an AVCHD format with an .MTS file extention. Quicktime doesn’t recognise the files, and VLC tries to play a few seconds then crashes. This post says some of the VLC nightly builds will play the video, so I downloaded several that were recommended as working. All played the video files poorly, freezing and jumping constantly. Mplayer wouldn’t even open the files.
Further searching revealed the only current way of viewing .MTS AVCHD files on the Mac is using Roxio’s Toast 9. Toast opens the Toast Video Player (©2008 Elgato) which plays the video’s smoothly. iMovie and Final Cut Express/Pro can import the video files direct from the recorder, but not plain files on your hard drive.
For anyone looking to view some sample’s on a Mac here are some links that should help.
Once again Steve Jobs has delivered an impressive set of updates and new products that managed to surprise. We already knew the 3G iPhone was 99% certain to be unveiled, but who would have guessed the price would be $199 and $299? I’m hoping that will convert to £129 (more likely £149) and £179 (again, probably £199) for the UK. If the 3G iPhone is hacked to run on any network as quickly as the original there’s no way I will be able to resist for long.
The MobileMe service answers several requirements I have found recently, and synchronising across iPhone, Mac apps and Outlook is genuinely useful for those of us who have to use Windows at work. Once 3rd Party Developers start building on this there’s no telling what will be possible. 20Gb of storage still doesn’t look very generous for $99/£69 a year, but the rest should make up for it. The web apps look useful, but you will be at the mercy of your ISP. The UK boasts some fast services but the reality is that a 20Mbit connection is swamped by more than one task at a time.
Perhaps the most surprising news for me (after the 3G iPhone price) was the cost of the games. $9.99 seems low for something like Super Monkey Ball that costs several time that on other gaming platforms, even portable ones. This could help Apple make the iPhone King of several markets, Pocket Gaming Console, PDA, Smartphone, GPS navigation, Media Player and Social Networking. Is this the device that takes Apple from being a computer manufacturer to a Consumer Electronics giant?