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Apple Special Event, October 2012, Impression

Apple streamed the video very quickly. I’m guessing they are now extremely well rehearsed and confident about the performance to even do a live streaming. Well, let’s cut to the chase, and drop my 2 cents.

Just with any Apple keynote, it starts with stats. Tim Cook on stage, iPhone 5 selling like hotcakes, pretty neat video, iPod Touch selling like hotcakes, yada yada yada. Tim was highlighting how the new iOS6 features are already used in the millions.

Tim also took the opportunity to emphasize that iPad apps are not “stretched out” phone apps. Punch #1 against Android.

iBooks stats. Sorry Tim, imo e-ink is still the ideal screen for eBooks. New iBooks featuring continuous scrolling, a departure from the classic idea of pages. Beautiful Korean fonts, and Chinese, said Tim Cook.

Bam, the Mac. Yeah, so much for a segway. Apple is selling more. Yeah, most people know that Apple is printing money.

Phil Schiller on stage. Beautiful, gorgeous, best, describing the 15″ retina display. And as expected, now retina display comes to the 13″ Macbook Pro. Lightest Macbook Pro ever. Well… DUH! The retina display resolution continues to astound me. 2560 x 1600. Yeah, more than even my iMac. I still drool over the idea of photo editing on a retina Macbook Pro.

And, what’s missing from the inside? Discreet graphic. Yup, the 13″ Macbook “Pro” only has the HD4000 intel graphics. Advise to people, you may want to sit this one out and wait for Haswell. You’ve been warned. I doubt the “better” speaker is worth the price of this one. Starting price $1699. Shipping today. Again, THIS is why Apple is succeeding. Many other companies cannot even ship their products months after announcement, let alone same day.

17″ MBP is still MIA. 17″ retina display would be mind blowing.

Next, Mac mini. A refresh for the step child. Might be one of the few Macs left with Firewire 800. Quad core at this tiny footprint is amazing though. Starts with dual core i5 for $599. Server version uses quad-core i7 with 2x1TB drives (but only 4GB of RAM?) for $999.

And the big one, the iMac. No more optical drive, and what you get is a super thin display unit. It’s… amazing. I mean really, being able to make an iMac that thin, with a full computer inside, it’s mind blowing. Sure, it’s just the edge that’s 5mm, but it’s still damn thin. This is why I love Apple, and why I hate Apple when Phil said how a new thing can make the previous one look so old. Damn you Apple.

No retina display, but it’s fully laminated and individually calibrated. Phil keep saying how much better the speaker on this new iMac too, but who cares as a separate 2.1 speaker would probably still be better. Something gotta give right, for something this thin. The obvious one is the optical drive. Well, the hard-drive got a downgrade too, starting with a 5400rpm drive, which we know is kinda slow for a desktop. Apple’s best marketing is upselling, and they want you to upgrade to the fusion drive, basically Apple’s marketing scheme for hydrid SSD+traditional hard drive. Apple is using its own software to optimize performance on what files are going to the SSD.

21.5″ iMac starts at $1299. Yes, Phil conveniently skipped the fact that it comes with 5400rpm drive. 27″ starts at $1799. Shipping in November for the 21.5″ and December for the 27″. And I bet it’s non-user upgradeable at all, not even the RAM, which is unfortunate as Apple gouges you on upgrades. Another odd design decision, due to the thinner edge, the SD card slot goes to the back, like the Mac mini. That’s not really intuitive, but at least you won’t mistake the SD slot with the super drive. Seriously, one time I slipped an SD card into the super drive of my iMac without realizing it, and was freaking out in trying to get it out.

Tim is back, and iPad stats again. 100million iPads sold. It’s interesting that Tim is showing how Apple is selling more iPads than Windows PC manufactures, AFTER the new iMac announcement. Yes Tim, everybody loves iPad, and everybody use iBooks.

Interestingly enough, Tim Cook mentioned how the new iBooks allows publisher to “update” text books. Yeah, good luck with that. Publishers love to gouge students by having them buy new books every year.

Phil is back. You know that “new” iPad that you just bought? Well, yeah, that’s no more. Apple is releasing the iPad 4, a “newer” iPad, and discontinued the short-lived iPad 3. Interestingly enough, the iPad 2 is still available. This boggles the mind on why Apple would do this, but they did it. The “newer” iPad comes with an A6X processor and lightning connector. It also has 720p front-facing camera, and the more world-compatible LTE radio. Same price points. Yeah, so much for the iPad 3…

Along the new iPad, Apple is also announcing lightning to USB, SD adapter, HDMI, and VGA (individual adapters).

And finally, iPad mini, hiding behind the newer iPad. Really great segway. New design, look a lot like the new iPod Touch. Even the black one has a black back. It looks more like an iPod Touch XL than an actual iPad mini, and alas, the specs say so. 7.9″, 1024×768, IPS display. Yup, no retina here, which is ironic considering how Tim Cook was pushing iBooks. The focus is thinner and lighter. Phil didn’t even bother to mention the display being IPS, let alone it not being retina.

Oh, the Nexus 7, punch #2 against Android. It’s plastic, thicker, more bezel, and heavier. But guess what Phil, the Nexus 7 has higher PPI with its 720p display. Also, it starts at $199. Phil did point out the disadvantage of ICS/Jelly Bean’s virtual buttons that is taking up screen space. Oh, and Phil just keep on going in comparing iPad apps with Android apps.

Now, the letdown. A5 chip. Yeah, Apple can put an A6 on the iPhone, but only an A5 for the iPad mini? REALLY APPLE? Come on. At least it has 720p facetime camera, and LTE version, unlike the Nexus 7 that is stuck at 16GB wifi only max (and doesn’t even support 5GHz wifi n). Cue in another documentary by yours truly, Johnny Ive. They keep comparing the iPad mini with the iPad 2. Well, guess what Apple, you yourself was just talking about the iPad 4. That’s number 4, 2 more than the iPad 2. I want the iPad mini to be a smaller version of the CURRENT iPad, not the iPad 2 generations behind.

Oh, new smart covers for the iPad mini. Gone are the aluminum part, just the clothed colored cover.

It’s amazing how they are pushing this iPad mini on the documentary, despite the obvious failures (no retina display, no A6).

Pricing, 16GB wifi at $329. $100 to double the capacity, and $130 extra for cellular radio. Pre-order October 26, shipping the wifi version first to a lot of countries, again showing the reason Apple is so successful.

Tim is back to close the presentation.

So, how did my prediction go? Well, I over estimated Apple. I thought Apple would not cut corners with the iPad mini, using A6 processor, but I was wrong. At least I was correct in mentioning the use of IPS, where many tech blogs said otherwise that the iPad mini would’ve used the inferior 3GS screen. I was correct in the pricing, but I missed the fact that Apple is keeping the iPad 2 (and instead discontinuing the “no longer new” iPad with an A6X iPad).

A mixed bag presentation. I’m not bothered with the retina Macbook Pro until Haswell. The new iMac design simply awed me. It’s incredible, period, but real-life usability, I would still need an optical drive on a desktop. However, the reason I was excited about this was for the iPad mini, and I was disappointed that Apple is cutting corners on the iPad mini, by making it a smaller iPad 2 instead of a smaller iPad 4. I’m torn. I was so ready to get one, but now I’m cautious, fearing that Apple would release the real iPad mini (with retina display and A6) in 6 months from now. *sigh.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in apple, event, impression, Keynote

 

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Apple’s “a little more” November 2 Event Prediction

The iPhone 5 was just released, but it feels like an old news now. The rumors are now focused on the next Apple event on November 2nd. The speculations are highly geared towards the venerable iPad mini, a smaller ~8″ iPad. The photo leaks are bountiful, so it’s pretty much a given imo. So now the speculations move on to the spec and price. I’m joining in with my 2 cents.

There are many speculations around the screen, how it’s going to be similar to the iPhone 3GS, ie. an inferior screen to the IPS panels used for the regular iPads and iPhone 4/4S/5. Imo Apple wouldn’t do this. Apple is not that stupid. The 5th gen iPod Touch itself has an IPS screen, so it wouldn’t make sense to “downgrade” the iPad mini. Apple is proud for its choice of panels on its various products (Macs, Macbooks, etc). The iPad mini will have the same IPS panel. Resolution wise, per the rumors, would be 1024 x 768, making it denser than the original/iPad 2’s screen, but not retina. Considering the yield and cost for retina screens (for the “new” iPad, iPhone 5, and “new” Macbook Pro), I’m going to guess Apple will do this and save a retina version for next revision. It will be highly criticized as the competitors are employing 720p screens for their 7″ tablets, but I bet Apple’s marketing machine will spin it in a magical way that you won’t care.

Going down to the chip used, IMO it’s going to be the A6. The rumors are speculating that Apple would use the A5 (to differentiate it as a lower model than the big iPad). I doubt it. The iPad is a flagship brand, and I don’t think Apple would treat the iPad mini like the iPod Touch, which is the step-child of the iPhone. I was already surprised that Apple put the A6 inside the iPhone 5, instead of parodying the “new” iPad (using A5X). The A6 has the advantage of being smaller and more power efficient than the A5/A5X, something that is needed by the smaller iPad to keep the tag of “legendary” battery life.

RAM wise, I hope it would be 1GB just like its bigger brother, but I won’t be surprised if Apple decided to put 512MB instead. 512MB is still usable (iPad 2, iPhone 4S, 5th gen iPod Touch).

The leaked SKUs is showing multiple models, parodying the lineup of the regular iPad, ranging from 16GB to 64GB, each with 3G/4G wireless version. Having cellular radio version from day 1 will definitely be an advantage against the popular Android tablet, Nexus 7.

The highly controversial topic is the pricing. In the past, Apple used to have fairly comfortable price gaps for their lineup (I remember the 64GB original iPod Touch selling for like $600). Today, with the ceiling being $499 from the 16GB wifi “new” iPad, and the floor being $299 from the 32GB 5th gen Touch, there’s not much wiggle room. Currently, the rumor is $329 for the lowest end (presumably 16GB wifi version), adding $100 for double the capacity, up to 64GB, and just like the regular iPad, adding $130 premium for the models equipped with cellular radio. As you can see, the pricing becomes a jumble of mess. I don’t know how Apple is going to approach this.

Speaking about price, the obvious thorn is the iPad 2, which is still being sold today at the $399 price point. I’m going to guess that it will be discontinued (relegated to the refurbished section) to at least leave a bit of breathing room for the iPad mini. The iPad 2 itself is still a great device, and if an even further price drop happened, it will be a good deal snatching one up from the refurbished store.

Oh, and how about the name? iPad mini makes sense. Simple, straight, and parodied the Mac mini (and the defunct iPod mini).

Besides the iPad mini, there are other Apple products that are due for an update. The regular iPad themselves are rumored to be refreshed with the lightning dock connector, eliminating the 30-pin models. The Mac mini is als overdue for Ivy bridge update. Same thing with the iMac. Another contender is also a 13″ retina Macbook Pro, which would also fit the “little more” tagline, to go side-by-side the previously announced 15″. The dilemma here is due to the late update, one may want to actually pass on these Ivy Bridge Macs, especially the retina Macbook Pro, and wait for Intel’s Haswell next year.

So there you go. Imo this is going to be a smaller event, unlike the iPhone 5/iPod announcement. Focus will be the iPad mini. I’ve been liking the 7″ form factor of my Nexus 7, as it’s a lot more convenient to take with you, while still having a decent screen space compared to a smartphone. The downside of the Nexus 7 is the limited storage and the lack of cellular radio version. If Apple makes a 64GB iPad mini with cellular radio, that’s it, I’m getting one.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in 2012, apple, event, Keynote

 

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September 12th Apple Keynote Prediction

Well, the day is getting near, and the rumors from the so-called “analysts” are endless. Time to pitch in mine.

1. New iPhone. Currently, the rummor is that it’s going to be a 4″ iPhone. Before, I was hesitant to assume that as the form factor of the current iPhone 4/4S is perfect imo. However, the increasingly leaks of spy shots on the new form factor kinda makes it a given. Despite the plethora of pictures of the parts, not many rumors about what’s inside. Some assumed it’s going to be the A5X, the chip used on the “new” iPad. Some said it’s going to be a new A6. Who knows. The A5X seems too big for the old form factor, but with the enlarged size, it’s possible. So, my prediction for the new iPhone is that, as rumored, it will be 4″ with the new dock connector, it will have the A5X in it, and it will carry the same price points as the current 4S (eg. 16GB for $199 subsidized up to $399 for 64GB). LTE is also a given, although who knows how it would work with the unlocked version.

The dock connector change is huge though. It will break all existing rich accessories ecosystem, although Apple will gladly sell you an adapter or two. Now, what if Apple approached this ala the Macbook Pro and “new” Macbook Pro with retina display, ie. releasing an iPhone with the updated internals but with the older dock-connector. Unlikely, but don’t want to re-buy all my existing accessories. I do hope Apple cut the unlocked pricing a bit. Currently, the 16GB iPhone 4S is $649. This may sound cool when unlocked iPhones are selling for thousands of dollars, but not anymore when the Galaxy Nexus is $349 unlocked. Apple need to really cut that price down. Even the old 3GS is sold at $375, more expensive than the more advance Galaxy Nexus. Although I think Apple will keep the unlocked pricing structure the same, because they can, I wish they at least bring the 16GB 4S to match the $349 Galaxy Nexus. One can only hope.

Oh, and Apple will call it the “new” iPhone. No iPhone 5 nor 6. Apple could’ve paired it with the iOS version, but they skipped 5 and named it 4S instead. So it will be just a “new” iPhone. Just like Macbooks and iMacs, there will be simply a top of the line iPhone (the latest one), and lesser speced cheaper ones (eg. the 4/4S).

I also have a concern with the new nano SIM. It’s hard enough having to jugle the micro SIM with phones using regular SIM using adapters. Now the even smaller nano SIM is going to make things even more annoying, as Apple will be the only one using it (Nokia just started using micro SIM for their Windows Phone phones, while other companies are still using regular SIM).

2. iOS 6. Kinda obvious. The removal of Google maps will be the big thing, and also adding turn-by-turn navigation. The only thing I’m disappointed is how many of these features won’t make it for the iPhone 4. Other than that, we already know what will be in iOS 6, so I doubt there will be any surprises. Maybe some extra stuff due to the larger screen of the new iPhone.

3. iPods. The iPod lineup didn’t get any updates at all last year. It’s a dying market with Apple standing on top. Not sure what Apple would do, but so far the rumors are new lineup across the board and the final axe for the iPod Classic.
-iPod Shuffle: What else can you do with this? Apple tried to go buttonless, but people didn’t like that. So the current Shuffle is as simple as one can get. Maybe just more colors. Same price point, $49.
-iPod nano: the rumor is that Apple will make a wifi iPod nano to connect to the iTunes store. Make sense as it allows people to buy more stuff from Apple. The current nano is already too restricted to be improved upon, so to me, the new “nano” will be actually a smaller iPod Touch. Apple will still market it as the iPod nano, but it will be an iOS device. I mean why do things half-heartedly? Might as well stick the full iOS in it. It will probably have either an A4 or the A3 (iPhone 3GS internal) in it to keep cost down. Screen will the the old lower-res LCD 3GS’ screen (non-retina). This might also explain why Apple is still supporting the 3GS for iOS 6. It might be old inside, but Apple will make it attractive outside by making it in colors. 8GB and 16GB at $99 and $149. Cheapest entry to the app store!
-iPod Touch: With the nano taking over most of the draws of the iPod Touch, the new iPod Touch will be larger (presumably following the new iPhone size) to compete further as a portable gaming device. Besides, the current Touch is so thin that it’s impossible to put something like the A5X in it. The new larger 4″ iPod Touch will carry the A5X, the iPad 3/iPhone 4 camera, and priced at $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. This also begs Apple to drop the price of the unlocked iPhones. I mean come on, why is a 16GB “new” iPad with LTE is cheaper than a 16GB iPhone 4S?

The wild card is the iPad mini. The popularity of the Nexus 7 and Kindle fire HD show that people want a smaller tablet. The iPad has ruled the standard sized tablet market, but Apple has nothing for this segment, having only an outdated iPod Touch. Pricing will be tough as the Nexus 7 and newly announced Kindle fire HD pushed that envelope further down at $199. Currently, for $199, you can only get a small-screen old 8GB iPod Touch. Definitely not an iPad experience. However, if Apple was to make an iPad mini, this pricing points will overlap too much with the iPod Touch and iPad. If Apple made an iPad mini, I don’t think Apple would go for the $199 price point. It would be probably at least $249 or $299 for the lowest end, as a bridge between the iPod Touch and iPad. I would guess $299 for 16GB, $399 for 32GB. Cheapest entry for an iPad experience! I do think Apple need to give some incentive to buyers, so I think Apple would make a 4G versions for the iPad mini. Note that for now, the Nexus 7 and 7″ Kindle fire HD are wifi only, so having 4G will be an advantage (and justify a higher price). So maybe $399 for 16GB + 4G and $499 for 32GB + 4G, matching up nicely with the starting price for the regular iPad. Internals will be the same as the “new” iPad (retina-res screen, etc).

I don’t know if Apple would do all of these in one announcement though. It sure will take a lot of attention away from the competitors and keep the news and tech bloggers busy for a while to cash in on the SEO. However, something like the iPad mini will be a huge announcement, so maybe Apple will do an October event (and maybe with an updated “new” iPad having the new dock connector), coupling this with maybe some announcements for the Apple TV or iTunes services. Or maybe this will be done together with the new iMacs.

In any case, September has been a very exciting month, starting with Nokia’s announcement of their new Lumia 920 phone with Windows Phone 8, then Motorola with their new RAZR Android phones lineup, then the bombastic Amazon announcement with their new Kindle and Kindle fire HD lineups. Of course, Apple will top them all as usual, and sell a bajilion more iDevices. For me personally, I find my current iPhone 4 to be satisfactory. If Apple still put ridiculous prices for the unlocked iPhones, I might just snap the iPod Touch instead, or a 4G iPad mini (if it existed). Although I love my iPhone and can’t live without it, sometimes I miss the usage of a basic phone. However, I don’t want to go back having to carry multiple devices again.

Well, there you go, my predictions for Apple’s September 12th event. Now if only I got paid like those analysts.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2012 in apple, event, Keynote

 

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Back to the Mac

Apple did yet another event yesterday, Back to the Mac. The video is available streaming via Apple’s website and iTunes. If you downloaded the podcast version via iTunes, redownload it. The first video is botched, won’t work on iOS devices.

So let’s get to it.

1. Steve Jobs opened up the keynote, but handed it off to Tim Cook right off the bat to talk about sales. Marketshare, blah blah, Steam & Autodesk, blah blah, Shanghai store, blah blah. Next please.

2. Job’s back to introduce iLife 11, as expected. Phil went on stage to show off iPhoto 11. Nothing too drastic. Full screen mode for events is great, presumably a transition towards touch-based UI of future Macs. It made the UI a bit more similar towards the photo app on the iPad. A bunch of new slideshow themes, great, but I expect they’re going to be overused fairly quickly as everybody is using the same templates. Email and Facebook integration inside iPhoto is great too. Hopefully Apple will allow iPhoto to upload higher res photo to Facebook. Previously, iPhoto is stuck at lower than VGA res photo for Facebook uploads. Book creation is neat, but I have never done/ordered one. Interestingly enough, there’s a Letterpress documentary built-in into iPhoto. Nice, but really?

3. iMovie 11. Randy is up. New features are:
-Improved audio editing. More granular control over fade-in/out and audio levels. Very neat, not needing to deal with Garage Band. Audio effects is also a nice touch.
-The new video effects are awesome, especially the freeze frame effect. Wow, I can’t wait to play with this.
-Movie trailers. Basically themes that present videos like movie trailers. Simply awesome. It can make plain videos into amazing videos, with just a couple of clicks. I truly can’t wait to get my hands on this. People that got bored watching this demo don’t know what they’re watching. Imo iMovie is the killer app on the Mac. You cannot simply do the same thing with any other app on any platform with the same ease of use.
Really, iMovie 11 alone is probably worth the price of the iLife bundle. Super awesome.

4. Garage Band 11. A product manager called Xander is up. Who is he again? Ah who cares.
-Groove matching. This is probably one awesome feature that you could only find in pro apps in the past. It basically syncs up all tracks to match into a single track’s rhythm in 1 click. Amazing! I probably would hardly use Garage Band, but this is just too cool.
-Flextime. Uh, yeah, you can lengthen or shorten a clip. I mean really, if you think about it, with this and groove matching, you don’t really have to know how to play music anymore, just like some of the artists out there. LOL.
-More lessons.
Garage Band is one of those apps that most people wouldn’t know what it is, but those that do will love it.

5. iLife 11, $50. And yeah, I ordered it already.

6. Facetime, on the Mac. Yeah, move aside iChat, the new meme is Facetime. It’s strange that Apple did this in the first place instead of building on top of iChat, but I guess there’s gotta be a technical reason, especially on iOS. Seems to work great as it auto-detects the rotation on the iOS devices. Interesting enough, Apple doesn’t call the camera on Macs as iSight anymore. It’s Facetime camera. so peeps, learn the new meme.

7. Mac OS X Lion. Yup, the next OS X, 10.7. The idea is taking some ideas from iOS back to the Mac. Touchscreen iMac? Steve said no way. LOL. He’s right though. Touch screen on a vertical screen is weird, and doesn’t work. Just look at those touch screen PCs by HP. I’m guessing the magic trackpad will have a bit more focus in the near future.
App store for the Mac. A lot of people started to be leery about this, thinking Mac will be as closed as iOS for apps. I don’t think that will be the case, but we’ll see. Some nice features for the regular consumers would be auto-updates for all apps and licenses of apps for ALL your Macs. Yeah, see that Microsoft?
Craig is up for demo.
Launch pad. Well, it’s iOS home screen on the Mac. Not too thrilled about it. It’s the same as iOS, including folders. You know what it is? A full screen Start menu. LOL.
Full screen view is pretty neat. Unlike Windows, looks like Full-screen in Lion removes the menu bar too. I guess devs have to re-engineer their apps.
Mission Control. Huh? Yeah, it’s unlike Apple having a feature named “Mission Control.” It seems silly. It’s basically expose 2.0. Oh, and the Magic Mouse sucks. Even Craig is having a hardtime swiping here and there. Should’ve used that Magic Trackpad.
OS X Lion, Summer 2011. Heck, I’m not even on Snow Leopard yet, still on Leopard.

8. One More Thing. Macbook + iPad? Yeah, new Macbook Air. The leaked pictures are true.
-13.3″, 2 USB ports, SD card slot, SSD only (good!), full size keyboard (but not backlit anymore, boo), 1440×900 screen res, Core 2 Duo (Steve re-emphasize that this is a fast processor, probably to ease users since everybody is expecting the Core i3 at least), GeForce 320m, 7 hours battery life, 30 days (!) stand-by time.
-11.6″ version. Yeah, the rumors were true too. 1366×768 screen res, 5 hours battery life, but no SD card slot (boo!).
Prices? Apple is going aggressive here. $999 gets you 11.6″ with 64GB, 1.4GHz CPU, 2GB RAM. Wait, 2GB RAM? Yeah, Apple cut off a corner there. Good thing is, unlike the previous Macbook Air, you can order BTO to 4GB RAM for another $100. Downside, it’s BTO only as the RAM is soldered to the motherboard, so you cannot upgrade the RAM yourself. The 13.3″ starts at $1299 with 1.86GHz and 128GB, and same 2GB RAM. Apple is going to rake in a lot of $100 4GB upgrade.
One weird thing is a microphone on the side of the Macbook Air. WTF? I don’t understand the logic. Wouldn’t it be better to place that near the camera? And how does the 30-day stand-by time works? Hibernation? But it’s instant-on? Huh?

Oh, of course, the obligatory documentary by Jony Ive. I think he should voice all documentary videos about anything. LOL.

Having the iPad, I don’t really see a need for these ultra-portable laptops anymore, but boy, it’s Apple, and I’m still drooling over it. LOL.

Overall, great keynote. I’m really surprised how a lot of people are “disappointed” and/or got bored with this. Apple has always demo iLife apps on every new version, and nobody ever got bored before. I guess it’s just a trend to hate anything Apple. It’s the “cool” thing to do. iLife allows normal people to make great photo slideshows and videos. I love it, and I think iLife 11 is another awesome update. The catch is, it requires Snow Leopard, and I’m still using Leopard. GRRRR! So I have to shell out $29 for SL too. Oh, and I’m not looking forward towards re-formatting my iMac.

Well, that’s it, my rundown on Apple’s latest event. No pro apps updates. No Verizon iPhone. We’ll see what’s more to come before the holidays.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in apple, event

 

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Apple 2010 September Music Event

So, yeah, something happened yesterday. Apple did their annual September music event to release new iPods. The keynote was available live, streaming for SL and iOS users. Yeah, Snow Leopard. I had to use my iPad to watch it. πŸ™„

Anyway, I’m just going through the keynote chronologically.

1. Updates on retail stores. Blah blah blah, nice stores. Update on iOS, blah blah, revolution, blah, blah, Google you suck, blah, blah, apps. Next.

2. iOS updates. Take home note is that 4.1 is coming next week with bug-fixes, and will feature HDR photo taking capabilities. I hope this feature will be available for the 3GS too, as we 3GS users have been gimped from iMovie already. New to 4.1 is Game Center, and Epic is showing their new game, powered by Unreal Engine 3, running on an iPhone. Pretty amazing, considering it’s running on a phone. Nintendo and Sony, be very wary. Hardware on mobile phones are advancing much more rapidly than the hardware on Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. iPad users will have to wait longer for iOS 4.2, coming in November, and it will feature wireless printing and AirPlay (AirTunes part deux), in addition to all iOS4 features.

Jobs demoed 4.2 on his iPad, showing the same old stuff such as “multi-tasking” (I rather call it task switching), threaded mail, folders, etc. One thin I notice in the 4.2 Safari browser on Job’s iPad, the “multiple tab” button seems to show a number now (can be handy to show you how many tabs are opened), and the “plus” icon is now an arrow “send to” icon.

3. Finally, the new iPods. Apple decided to renew all the iPod lineup (except the classic).
-First, the shuffle. The main complaint of the 3G shuffle is the fact that it has no buttons. Well, 4G shuffle brings back the buttons. So it looks like the 2G again, except that it’s square. Meh. At least Apple recognize that going obsessively minimalist doesn’t always work. It has all the voice over features from the 3G. 5 colors, 2GB, $50.

-Second: the nano. All the rumors were true. The 6G nano is square, has a clip, and uses a touch screen. It’s so small that it’s only a tad bigger than the shuffle. Sounds cool, right? Well, Jobs kept saying how it’s better, but he obviously skipped the features that are gone from the previous nanos. First, it’s a smaller and lower res screen than even the 3G nano. The video camera is obviously gone. Oh, and guess what, no video playback. Yeah, talk about going backwards. Also based on the demo screens, looks like the playback feature will mimic iOS, meaning no shuffle-by-album. The kicker? It still carry the same price as the previous nano: $150 for 8GB and $180 for 16GB. So, do you want to pay the same price and get less? Apple thinks so. We’ll see how the market responds. Pretty disappointing imo, and not even as much color options as the 4G/5G nano.

-Third: the Touch. Freakishly thin. It has the high res “retina” LED display, although Jobs conveniently didn’t say whether it’s the same IPS display as the iPhone 4 or not. My guess is that it’s not, and it won’t have oleophobic coating either. Looks like Apple really wants to make sure that the iPhone holds its value over the Touch. The new Touch will sport the A4 chip, although whether it runs as fast (or faster) than the iPhone 4 is not yet known. Gyroscope is included, and also a front facing camera for facetime. Rear camera is also added with HD (720p) video recording. The rumors are pretty much spot on. The pricing is a bit odd, with 8GB for $230, and jumps to 32GB for $300, and 64GB for $400. I guess Apple want to keep their good margin, not willing to reach the $199 price point, nor do a 16GB version.

Funny how Jobs demoed the nano, but not the new Touch. Also funny that Jobs went through the new iPods fairly quick, only halfway through the whole keynote. So what’s next?

4. iTunes. New iTunes 10, new icon, slightly updated UI, and Ping. Yeah, Microsoft has bing, and Apple now has Ping. It’s social networking inside iTunes. Errr, sure, that’s assuming that your friends are also using iTunes. Nobody I know uses or buy music from iTunes. They use bittorrent. πŸ˜› At best, Ping is probably just going to be a niche amongst hip Apple/iTunes users.

5. One more thing/hobby, a 2nd gen Apple TV. Super tiny, just HDMI and optical out (no component), ethernet, wifi. No purchases, just rentals. Err, yeah, not sure if that’s what people actually want (hint: bittorrent). HD movies is $5. Sure, it’s HD, but Red Box DVD rental is just $1 per day (bittorrent is free). At least the new Apple TV supports Netflix streaming, so Netflix users don’t have to spend more money. TV shows rental is 99c. Err, sure, they’re cheap enough, but I already have Netflix, and spending more money just doesn’t jive with me (again, bittorrent is free). You can stream content from Youtube (interesting since Google is doing Google TV), Flickr (alas, no Picasa, Facebook, or other online photo storage support), and mobileME. You can still stream from a Mac/PC running iTunes. No Apple, I want to be able to stream my own videos form a simple NAS/Windows Home Server. 😦 In addition, there’s still also the codec support issue. I’ll stick with my HTPC running XBMC.

The new Apple TV is going to be just $99, shipping in a month. So, who’s Apple competing with this new Apple TV? The obvious one is Roku, a netflix client at a similar price point. The upcoming contenders are Google TV boxes and boxee box. Add on top of this, a lot of devices and even TVs today have a netflix client built-in already, and some also offer youtube/Amazon video capability. It seems that the market feels too crowded for the wrong reasons.

…and that’s it. The keynote re-run cut off the Cold Play music.

So, what’s my take on the new iPods? How was my prediction?
1. iPod shuffle
Well, I only got the price right, 2GB for $50. Apple usually is pretty strong headed in terms of the design choice they did (button-less shuffle), so I wasn’t expecting they would go back to the 2G design. But I guess consumers win this time.

2. iPod nano
I did better this time, due to the leaked cases pictures. New form factor, touch screen, no camera, and same price points. One should question the value of the new nano. Sure, it’s smaller, but you’re basically paying the same amount of money for less (no camera, smaller screen, no video, presumably no shuffle-by-album). Also, the competitors are way cheaper than Apple now. Just for example, Sony’s entry level E-series MP3 player can be had for less than $100, and you’ll get 16GB! Previously, Apple has a reason to retain the higher price point with the video camera. I don’t know if the consumers are willing to shell out twice the money just to get something smaller (with less features to boot). Imo the only reason Apple could do this is simply because they owned the MP3 player market. iPod as a name has become the Kleenex of MP3 player. This also shows that a standalone MP3 player as a device is a dead end. There’s almost nothing else to innovate (to the point that Apple added a camera on last gen nano). Now the only way to go is backward, I guess. Disappointing. However, it is still tempting to get one just for the cute/collectible factor. I mean I have bought pretty much all generations of iPod nanos (all of them, 1G to 5G). I mean gotta catch ’em all, right? πŸ˜€

3. iPod Touch.
Most of my guesses hit the mark: retina display, facetime, front face and rear camera. I just didn’t expect Apple to completely replace the lower end with an 8GB version of the same generation (instead of using the 3rd gen Touch). The surprise is HD video recording. Sounds awesome right? You gotta wonder though, that new Touch is even thinner. How the heck Apple did it, considering that even the 3GS camera is too thick for the 2G/3G Touch. Well, looking at the spec, you’ll see the ugly side. Yeah, the new Touch can record 720p video, but it’s obviously a cheapo crappy sensor, as its picture taking ability is only 960×720 resolution. That is not even 1MP. I mean come one, find a dumbphone/cheap digicam that still do less than 1MP picture. Extremely pathetic. This is yet another Apple’s obsession with thinness, sacrificing feature. I rather have a thicker Touch with the 3GS camera in it. I guess Apple just want to make sure they have more stuff to roll out for September 2011. Still, it’s a good buy, especially 32GB for $300. Plus you can do facetime, and it’s iOS. There’s virtually no competition here, yet. Heck, Sony is still selling their 16GB X series for $300. The only contender is the ZuneHD, which is due for an upgrade too. Rumor is MS is going to do a Winpho7 Zune HD without the phone, but the bar is already set fairly high, with the Touch having Facetime, HD video recording, and retina display.

Oh, how about the iPod Classic? Jobs didn’t even mention it at all, but it’s still alive, 160GB, same price $250. Yeah, Apple is the only player in town here, so they see it they they don’t need to do anything.

In the end, the MP3 player is dying. Everybody is using their cellphones as their MP3 players. We already see this as Apple is now very confused on what to do with the nano. Heck, ever since I have an iPhone, I hardly use any of my iPods anymore. The only surviving market will be the low end cheapo MP3 player, and the “PDA” replacement like the iPod Touch, where it’s turning into a mini computer at the $200+ price points, where people is expecting more than just an MP3 player.

How about the Apple TV? Well, my kind of content is J-dorama and Tokusatsu, with Anime sprinkled all around. No content providers in the US, including Apple, offer those, so my only source is fansubs. The most common codecs use in fansubs are Xvid + .avi, or H.264 + .mkv. Neither of those are supported by Apple TV (or any Apple iDevices). So far my solution is a plain Windows HTPC with XBMC. The new Apple TV would be an interesting Netflix client though, and for people that like to rent movies. As for the 99c TV shows, well, it can be pretty expensive if you like watching TV shows. Paying $10 per month for hulu plus may be a better deal, unless you hate ads. Apple TV could’ve been more. Apple could’ve been more aggressive (apps). But I guess they have to play nice with the studios and network providers. Oh well, I’m not interested in it anyway unless Apple added more stuff later on. It seems nice to be able to stream videos from my iPad/iPhone to the Apple TV.

So there you go, my impression/rant of Apple’s 2010 September event. Will I get any of those new iPods. Well, the new nano is interesting for collecting sake. The new Touch is interesting also, as I cannot have iMovie on my 3GS. But I dunno. I rather save my money for a Canon S95. My guess is the big seller will be the new Touch as it finally has camera. People had been lusting over a camera, and the 3rd gen Touch disappointed. Now those people will get this new Touch. Also, there are people that don’t or cannot get an iPhone, so the iPod Touch is the obvious gateway for the app store. To be honest, I don’t think the shuffle and nano will sell much, especially at those prices.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2010 in apple, event, impression, ipod, september

 

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Apple iPod rumor

So, here we go again. September, and various tech blogs posting Apple’s invitation and various rumors. I’ll chime in with my own 2 cents.
The biggest rumor is a new Apple TV, dubbed iTV, which is rumored to be an iOS powered set-top box for $99. I don’t know. Sure, with Google TV, Apple probably feel they need to pay more attention to the Apple TV. Thing is, Apple’s invitation shows a guitar. A new iTV imo would be very significant to warrant a focus on itself, and a guitar kinda tells me the focus in tomorrow’s event will be music/iPods. Apple has a tendency to hold smaller events at a more frequent basis nowadays, so we could still see iTV next month or something.

Now let’s get to the focus of music.

1. iTunes
The rumors are saying iTunes X (iTunes 10) with longer music samples (up to 1 minutes from 30 seconds). Another rumors would be 99cents TV-show rental. I don’t know. I don’t think any of those would be significant. What people would want by now is ability to stream their music collection from the cloud. What I want is wifi syncing for iPad.

2. iPod shuffle
I don’t think anything will change. You can’t really do anything more to a button-less piece of metal. Currently, Apple is selling the 2GB for $60, 4GB for $80, and special 4GB edition for $100. I don’t think this can get any cheaper, although a $50 price point would be possible. I do think we will see new colors like the nano, just like the trend on previous shuffle. My guesses (along with new colors):
-Price drop across the board: 2GB for $50, 4GB for $70.
-2GB gone, replaced by 4GB for $60, leaving a better gap for the iPod nano price points.
I’m going with the first guess. Funny thing is, usually you can kinda make an educated guess based on the pricing of the refurbished iPods. However, I don’t see the shuffle being available refurbished.

3. iPod nano
The big rumor is a re-design tot a smaller square shape with maybe a clip ala the shuffle on the back, based on pictures of cases. Apple had put the nano in a weird spot by putting a video camera in it last year. It would be odd, although not impossible, for Apple to regress and take out a big feature. Then again, the guitar picture on the invitation mean a focus on music, and Apple’s smart marketing can spin things be saying that they are focusing on music. So, in addition to the form factor change, a bigger rumor would be that the face of the new nano would be touch-screen, something that I had thought about last year. If this is the case, then Apple would have to re-invent the software, unless they can squeeze down iOS, eliminating everything other than the iPod functions.
Some people argued that Apple wouldn’t change the nano’s form factor that radically. Well, remember the iPod mini? Apple replaced that with the nano just after 2 iterations. If you look at the nano history, we are at that 2-year point with the current design (4G and 5G). The only question is the camera, as at that smaller size, something got to go. Or, Apple could simply have another lineup. In any case, the pictures of the new form factor case are too significant to ignore. I think Apple would ditch the camera (remember, there’s still the iPod Touch), spinning it as re-focusing the nano for music.

So, my guess is that the new iPod nano will have the new form factor, touch screen, with a new UI with the menus revolving ala coverflow. I just hope Apple is not skimping the software (like shuffle by album, which is still ironically missing in iOS). Price wise, it depends on how aggressive Apple want to be. They could just keep the same price points ($150 for 8GB, and $180 for 16GB), or something more aggressive like $100 for 8GB and $150 for 16GB (justifying the loss of the camera, while leaving a better breather room for iPod Touch pricing).

4. Lastly, the iPod Touch.
The iPod Touch is becoming the most important iPod for Apple, as it’s the gateway to the profitable app store. With the last year’s Touch not getting anything worthwhile (other than the upgraded internals), I think this year’s Touch will be receive a significant update. iOS 4 will be the first obvious feature, complete with a rehash of folders and multi-tasking. Another obvious feature would be a front-facing camera for Facetime. Apple already stated during the iPhone 4 announcement that there will be tons of Facetime devices by the end of 2010. The feature being added to the Touch is pretty clear.

So, what else. The form factor doesn’t seem to change much based on the leaked case pictures, definitely not the iPhone 4 design, Those pictures also show a hole on the back, probably for a back-facing camera, although I don’t think it will the the same camera as the iPhone 4. I’m guessing it’s going to be the 3GS’ camera, 3MP and VGA video recording, thus giving a better excuse to take out the camera from the nano. I do hope for iMovie to be compatible with this iPod Touch as it’s likely it will have the same A4 chip and RAM as the iPhone 4. I mean this could be a true flip competitor, having a video camera with editing and uploading capability on the device itself (if Apple can put the 720p camera in the Touch, then yeah, the flip is dead).

As for the screen, I’m guessing the new Touch will also get the retina upgrade. However, I don’t think it will be cheap, thus Apple will still keep the 3G Touch for the lower price point, just like their strategy with the iPhone.
So, my prediction:
We will see the 4G Touch sporting front facing camera + Facetime, back facing camera (3GS style), iOS 4, A4 chip, and retina display, and keeping the same price points. $300 for 32GB, $400 for 64GB. The body material, however, will not be as sleek as the iPhone 4, probably to keep the cost down. I mean $300 for the retina display sounds too good to be true. The current 3G Touch will sport 16GB and hold the $199 price point, still being touted as a gaming device.

5. The iPod Classic.
Ah, yeah, the iPod Classic. The iPod that is now at an extremely odd place. It didn’t receive anything other than capacity upgrade last year. Unless Toshiba managed to make a higher capacity hard-drive at the same form factor, the 160GB capacity is kinda maxed out. Thing is, there is virtually no competition anymore in this space. MS gave up on their hard-drive based Zune. Apple is the only player in town. They could just keep it the way it is. Or maybe just a price drop, $200 for the same 160GB. Or, they could scarp the iPod classic altogether as the money making machine is the app store. I’m going to go with a simple price drop, $199 for 160GB.
I do wish for Apple to transition the Classic to flash memory, with the same form factor but unibody aluminum case. But obviously the flash memory price is the problem.

There you go, my predictions for tomorrow’s Apple event. The best part is, apparently Apple is going to do a livestream of the event, something that they have not done for a long time. I will also be following Engadget’s and gdgt’s live blogging.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in apple, event, Keynote, september

 

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WWDC 2010 Impression

The video streaming is up on Apple’s site.
I’ll be going through the keynote chronologically, and provide my 2 cents.

1. The iPad.
Blah blah sales blah blah magical blah blah 2 million blah blah. Blah. The mash-up video of iPad releases in different countries was pretty neat though. Oh, and a jab on Google ads. But next please.

2. iBooks.
Highlights, notes, and the big one, native PDF reader! Finally. Not out now though, “later this month.”

3. App store.
Blah blah HTML 5 blah open blah. Approval process, etc. Sounds like Jobs just rehashing his script from D8. Netflix for iPhone, meh (yeah, tell that to AT&T. Say bye-bye to your 200MB data cap). Farm Ville for iPhone, meh. Guitar Hero, meh. Blah blah 5 billion blah blah 1 billion blah. We know what we are waiting for, so next.

4. iPhone.
Blah blah market share blah blah iPhone > Android, and obvious jab at google. For a newcomer, Android is actually pretty amazing getting those market shares. Steve should pay more attention.
Next, Steve was talking about each year’s iPhones. Before 2007, wireless carriers were in control of the phones. Well, they still do Steve. Your iPhone is still locked to AT&T, and the draconian bandwidth cap made things worse.

5. iPhone 4.

Finally, the real deal. All those leaked pictures and stolen iPhone is true. Rectangle design, flat edges, even thinner than the 3GS, thinnest smartphone on the planet, front facing camera, micro SIM, LED flash, noise cancellation mic. The last one reminds me of the Nexus One. πŸ˜‰ The interesting part is the stainless steel trim, which doubles as antenna too. Scratch resistant glass front and back, which is nice as this means you don’t need a case. Really, I never use a case for a phone until the 3GS due to the highly scratchable plastic back. Glad Apple turned this around with glass on the iPhone 4.
Retina display… a fancy term for high res screen. The 326ppi is phenomenal though, as it’s even more than most regular laser printing. Yeah, a screen with higher res than print. That’s pretty awesome. Steve is showing how the retina display is better on text and photos, but the low res streaming video made it impossible to tell the difference.
Loading New York Times, and… the wifi issue. You will hear this often in the next couple of days. Even my local news is already discussing it. LOL. Even Jimmy Fallon made a joke out of it.

So, retina display in short: 3.5″ 960×640 res screen with IPS tech LCD (which is used on the iPad)
Steve Jobs is really doing an awesome job marketing his product. During the iPad announcement, he made it like the larger display is better. Now he made it like having this high res screen on the palm of your hand is better. Masterful!

iPhone 4 uses A4, and better battery life than the 3GS. That’s amazing, considering the faster processor and the higher res screen. Jobs didn’t mention the clockspeed though. iPad runs the A4 at 1GHz. Rumor says iPhone 4 runs it at 800MHz.

The biggest, and also the most disappointing announcement, is quad-band HSDPA. This is the first phone to have quad-band HSDPA (and FCC tests revealed that it’s actually penta-band HSDPA). Nobody has this before. Previous iPhone 3G/3GS only have tri-band HSDPA. Douchebag companies like HTC even opted to only put dual-band HSDPA on some of their phones, making them only usable in Europe and Asia for 3G. So, this is a good thing, right? Well, the advertised spec of the quad-band HSDPA frequencies are 850/900/1900/2100. AT&T 3G uses 850 band. The only other GSM carrier in the US, T-Mobile, uses 1700 band for 3G. So despite having quad-band HSDPA, the iPhone 4 still doesn’t support T-Mobile 3G. Penta-band? Even more disappointing, the 5th band revealed by FCC is not 1700 band, but 800 band, used in Japan by NTT Docomo. Yeah, it sucks, so iPhone is still stuck with AT&T in the US. 😦

Next, a gyroscope. 6-axis motion sensing. Hey Sony, call your lawyers. LOL. Hopefully this will result in amazing games and even better virtual reality apps. Jobs demoed jenga app, and it’s pretty neat.

Next, the camera. Apple seems to be serious in this, and Jobs stated megapixel is not everything. iPhone 4 has 5MP camera. Not that amazing as other phones are pushing 8MP and up, but the iPhone 4 uses backlit sensor, probably the first on cellphones. Backlit sensor is getting more popular in digicams, used in recent Sony and Nikon compact digicams, allowing them to capture more light in low-light conditions. Also, Jobs said the pixel size is still the same as the 3GS, despite having more megapixel. So hopefully this means that iPhone 4 pictures would be great. Obviously, one feature is not mentioned, the lens. Oh well, I guess Apple will start using better glass on iPhone 5. As for LED flash, I’m not too amused with LED flash. My old dumbphone, SE K550i has dual LED flash, and it’s not that great. A Xenon flash would be better.

The camera also records 720p video. Nothing new, but 30fps 720p is pretty cool. A lot of other phones can record 720p, but at lower framerate (24fps). Oh, and iMovie for iPhone! Wow, pretty cool. (Hey Apple, how about iPhoto for the iPad?) iMovie for iPhone is ground breaking. I mean really, when was the last time you edit your videos on your phone? Not just cutting, but complete with transitions and themes and music! I love iMovie on the Mac, and iMovie for the iPhone looks just awesome. This is true innovation! I mean, I’m speechless. Wow. It’s just amazing you can edit your movie, complete with music and transition, and export it in HD, all on a phone! It’s… amazing! Of course, the question is, will Apple made iMovie available for the 3GS? I mean the 3GS can only record SD VGA videos, but it sure is nice to have that editing capability. If not, than phoey, forcing people to get the iPhone 4.
Edit: looks like it’s iPhone 4 only. 😦 Boo!

Before Steve going to his next point, the wifi issue took its toll. He said there’s ~500 wifi access points in the room, and he wanted people to shut them off, or no demo. I was following some live-blogging during this, and I saw everybody paused. LOL. But in the end, people continued. I know gdgt continued their live blogging. I have a feeling Steve Jobs will put more restrictions on future Apple events to prevent stuff like this.

6. iPhone OS 4 becomes iOS 4, with metal fonts. Err… okay…. More rehashing of iPhone OS 4… I meant iOS 4 features (multitasking, folders, unified inbox, etc), something we already knew from the previous event. *yawn One thing I want to point out though, folders on the dock = Start menu on the iPhone. πŸ˜‰ The circle is complete, and Bill Gates rolled. Speaking of Microsoft, bing search! Another jab at Google.

Next, iBooks. Wait, we went through this before. *yawn The new stuff are that this is for the iPhone and iPod Touch, buy once and read on all devices, sync bookmarks and notes. Jobs said it doesn’t get any better than text on the iPhone 4 screen. Wait the minute Steve, I thought you said the iPad is better for eBooks. I’m confused. πŸ˜›

Next, iAds. *sigh. Blah blah emotion blah blah. Another yawn. We went through this before already. Jobs showed a Nissan iAd.

7. One more thing. Video chat with Johnny Ive (Jobs was definitely pissed off about the wifi issue). Apple called it, FaceTime. Huh? Yeah, instead of the obvious iChat, it’s FaceTime. Doesn’t make sense imo. The catch, it’s iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 at first, and wifi only in 2010. Yeah, good luck seeing this over AT&T’s 3G with their 200MB cap. Even Steve said “wireless providers (need) to get ready for the future,” clearly a jab to AT&T. Now, video chat is not new. Nokia and SE have shipped tons phones with front facing camera. But have you actually seen anybody do a video chat with those? Not me. They’re bragging rights, but nobody uses them. Nobody knows how to use them, and what apps that utilize them. So why FaceTime is a big deal then? It streamlines video chat, building it into the existing phone app. Well, Jobs also said it’s going to be an open standard (which is why he was confident that there will be 10s of millions of FaceTime devices), and one of the protocol supported is SIP, which means a lot of existing chat apps should be able to utilize this feature.

8. iPhone 4 details. Available in black and white. 16GB: $199. 32GB: $299. And, a newcomer, 8GB 3GS for $99. Yeah, that’s actually new, as the 3GS were previously only available in 16GB and 32GB flavor. Oh, by the way, Apple is putting the current 3GS on clearance. The 16GB 3GS is only $149, and the 32GB 3GS is only $199. The 32GB 3GS for $199 is quite a nice deal, especially if you don’t think you’ll need all the fancy features of iPhone 4.

iPhone 4 will ship on June 24th, and pre-orders starts on June 15th. I hope there will not be a supply issue like the iPad. Japan will get the iPhone at the same time as the US, not surprising considering the recent rave of Apple products in Japan’s media and dorama. For Asian countries, the next ones will be Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, getting iPhone 4 in July. This is a very fast rollout, and one of rare occasions where US gets a phone first before Asia. πŸ˜€ I mean compare this to Sony Ericsson, which still has not shipped the X10 in the US, and the douchebag HTC, which won’t release the Legend and Desire in the US. Screw you HTC!

iPod Touch will receive iOS 4 for free, probably because Apple wants everybody clicking on the iAds. iPhone 3G won’t get some features like multi-tasking, as expected.

So yeah, quite enjoyable keynote as usual. Apple is really a master in marketing. The special feature video about the iPhone 4 is even more mesmerizing. I mean I couldn’t care less about 720p video recording, video chat, and what not, but seeing the feature video, I’m drooling for the iPhone 4. Apple is just that good in making their stuff looks really tasty and delicious, making it extremely hard to resist.

A quick brief:
iPhone4:
-3.5″ 960×640 res IPS LCD screen
-quad-band HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100, 802.11n
-front facing camera with FaceTime video chat
-5MP camera with backlit sensor and 720p video recording, coupled with $5 iMovie app
-scratch resistant glass front and back
-black and white. 16GB: $199, 32GB: $299. Unsubsidized prices: 16GB: $599, 32GB: $699
-still locked with AT&T in the US, coupled with the new 200MB/2GB capped data plans

What’s missing from this WWDC? No mention of Mac OS X, ever. Yeah, quite disheartening that a conference for developers completely skipped the main OS itself, but it seems Apple is shifting their focus to iOS. No mention of Macs either, not even sales numbers, which something that Jobs usually mentioned. No updates on Mac pro. Nothing. Even Safari 5 was released the same day, silently, without any mention during WWDC.

I… might get the iPhone 4. πŸ™‚ Like I said, it’s hard to resist Apple’s goodness, especially for a gadget freak like me. LOL. The unsubsidized price is quite steep though. I was hoping for Apple to really give the Nexus One a run for its money by pricing the iPhone 4 starting at $499, but I guess flash memory prices are still expensive.

So, what’s next? Steve Jobs said 10s of millions of FaceTime devices. I’m guessing the next iPod Touch would get a front facing camera. I mean it uses wifi, so shouldn’t be a problem.

There you go, another entertaining and masterful Steve Jobs keynote. His keynotes are definitely worth watching, and re-watching. His presentation skills is just top notch and his delivery is masterful. Good job Apple. Google, please drop the price of your Nexus One. $450 would be nice.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2010 in 2010, apple, event, impression, Keynote

 

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9/9/09 Apple Special Event impression

You can download the Special Event keynote from iTunes. I’ll be going through the keynote chronologically.
1. Steve Jobs appeared, alive and well, albeit super skinny. Once we go through the whole lackluster event, I think this is the biggest news of all.

2. Genius. Blah, who cares. I already pointed out in the past that Genius to me is stupid. Apple now put the Genius feature for apps. Will see how it goes. I don’t have the iPhone, so no ringtones for me. However, $1.29? Really? I thought it was 99c and you can make your own (this option is still available though). In short, ringtones are still a rip-off. Make your own and save your money.

3. iTunes 9. The new iTunes store does feel better than the old one. Definitely easier to navigate. The catch? No more shopping cart. So don’t just click happy as it’s all 1-click buy now. You have to utilize the wish list to simulate the old shopping cart (yeah, they said wish list is a requested feature, while what they did was renaming the shopping cart). iTunes LP is what cocktail becomes. It’s cool, but until they have iTunes LPs for Eurobeat artists like Dave Rodgers, I won’t be bothered. They also added Extras to movies, so your iTunes movie purchase is filled with non-useful content that you don’t care, like the DVD version. πŸ˜›

4. Syncing is much more granular now. Instead of having to make individual playlists for specific artists/genres to be synced, iTunes 9 have that option built-in. This is a nice addition. Syncing is also more granular with podcasts and videos, allowing you to specify certain podcasts/videos that you want in the device indefinitely.

5. iTunes 9 Home Sharing. This is a nice feature for those that have iTunes libraries scattered on different computers. Finally iTunes can automatically aggregate the library content between computers with couple of clicks. Very useful if you keep a library on a desktop and another on a laptop. The catch, you need iTunes account, and it only works for computers with the same iTunes account (so no copying music from friends/other family members). Yeah, the recording industry is not that stupid. Kudos to them to limit what you can do with your own content. Luckily, iTunes are now DRM free, so you can always do it the old-fashion way. Home Sharing just makes it a bit more convenient.

6. You can rearrange the App icons of your iPod Touch/iPhone from iTunes 9. Nice long-awaited feature, but I want folders to group certain apps instead of having pages of clutter. Oh well, maybe iTunes 10.

7. iPod Touch. The most disappointing and lackluster announcement. Everybody, including me, is expecting a new Touch with camera, and maybe GPS+compass. Phil went on and on about apps and games, something that everybody knows already. Dissing the PSP and DS won’t change the fact that the “new” Touch is NOT new. I guess the rumor that there’s production/manufacturing issues with the camera unit is true. So, Apple is focusing the Touch for gaming. Imo, wrong move. Without a significant hardware update, the ZuneHD with nVidia Tegra and 720p HD output + HD radio is a LOT more tempting for enthusiasts, especially Windows users.
So, what do Apple have? 8GB for $199 (the old 2G), 32GB for $299, and 64GB for $399. No camera. The 32 and 64GB version are said to be “faster” and support OpenGL ES 2.0, but no confirmation yet whether it has the same innards as the iPhone 3GS. Whatever, Tegra on the ZuneHD sounds better and better. For comparison, ZuneHD 16GB will be $219, and the 32GB will be $289. However you see it, if you’re a Windows user and looking for a new toy, the ZuneHD is extremely tempting and gives better value than the Touch, unless you’re on a Mac or you want apps.
Other than the ZuneHD, there is not much competition here though. Creative’s Zii is not out yet. Sony X series? That’s an even worse joke. 16GB for $299, and 32GB for $399 for a standalone MP3 player? I expect Sony to put the X series on clearance soon.
How did I do on my prediction? Well, I was wrong about most of it, only got the 2G 8GB for $199 right.
No Phil, the iPod Touch is not the best iPod yet as it cannot even do shuffle-by-album, something that the Classic and nano can do for ages. The Dell in the back pocket is cute though, something you copied from Sony’s Vaio P ad? πŸ˜›

8. iPod Classic survived! Really, a lot of bloggers, including me, expected Apple to axe the Classic. I didn’t even know there’s a 160GB hard-drive that thin yet. Oh well, this is good news for some people. Apple is the only one left that sells hard-drive based MP3 player. Microsoft already axed their hard-drive based Zunes. 160GB for $249. No drop in price as Apple knows they’re the only player in town now in this category. No new features either, not even the voice over, something that I predicted. Again, I missed the mark, only matching the price point of $249, simply because I was not aware of the thin 160GB being available.

9. iPod Shuffle, the dreaded 3G Shuffle is sticking. Phil kept saying it’s the “easiest” iPod to use. Liar. Apple didn’t even bother to drop the price. It’s still the 4GB for $79, and only added 2GB for $59. Oh, how about an even more expensive piece of useless metal, 4GB stainless steel 3G Shuffle for $99. $99? Really Apple? For something that is barely usable? Let alone that, it’s not even gapless capable. Utter fail!
Let’s see the competitors:
-Sony’s new E series, not as tiny as the 3G Shuffle for sure, but it is much more usable, compatible with any OS, 8GB for $79, 16GB for $99. So, a tiny piece or metal for $99, or a usable MP3 player with screen and buttons, and 4 times the capacity for the same price. Which one would you pick? You have to be a super harcore Apple fanboy to choose the Shuffle.
-Sandisk Sansa Clip+, again, not as tiny as the 3G shuffle, but more usable due to a screen and buttons. 8GB for $69, 4GB for $49. Sure, it’s plastic instead of metal, but usability goes up 1000x with only half the price. Take that Apple! Really, Apple could be losing the low-end market here, a place where Apple is doing decently before with the 2G Shuffle.

10. The new 5G nano. So, the iPod that is getting a video camera is the nano, not the iPod Touch. Huh? Yeah, that’s what I said. I’m not really sure Apple’s strategy here. Steve Jobs said they’re targeting the Flip camcorder market. I don’t know if that’s a market the nano should be going though. The Flip market is going away anyway, as most of today’s compact point-n-shoot digicams at similar price point can also take videos (some even in HD), have better optics, optical zoom, and upgradeable memory. Oh, and they take much better pictures than the Flip. So, imo the Flip itself is not going to last long, and Apple wants to go in? The Touch is in a better position to have a video camera as it has the OS for video editing, picture/video uploading via wifi, and apps. The nano has nothing of those. Even worse, the video camera on the new nano cannot take pictures.
On the other hand, there are quite a few surprises. The video itself is 640×480 30fps. Not too shabby, although I wish Apple added widescreen resolution. Also, according to the new spec, the new nano supports HE-AAC. Well, that’s new. And yes, iTunes 9 allow ripping to HE-AAC now, max 80kbps. I think there’s something going on here. Apple wouldn’t just add this for no reason.
Now, the pricing. 8GB for $149, 16GB for $179. People that are not interested in the camera will look elsewhere, like Sony new E/S series (16GB E345 is $99, 16GB S545 is only $129). Even if you’re interested in the camera, you have to wonder how’s the video quality. No auto-focus? It’s clear that Apple added the cheapo camera to keep the premium pricing. Really, if Sony, a company that is not that smart in term of pricing their products, can sell a 16GB MP3 player for $99, I expect Apple to do better.

11. Norah Jones. No Beatles. Nuff said.

So, a pretty lackluster event. The biggest news is, Steve Jobs is alive and well. Apple is missing the mark on everything except the Classic. The 3G Shuffle is as useless as it was, and instead of price drop, Apple upped the premium. The nano, instead of being cheaper, got a questionable video camera, and no significant price drop. The Touch? Where should I begin? Nothing new, weak pricing and featureset vs the ZuneHD. Microsoft, this is your big chance to push the ZuneHD as much as possible. Even better, just drop the price point to $199 and $249 for the 16GB and 32GB ZuneHD respectively. That might give Steve Jobs a bit of headache. Oh, and where’s Mac support for the Zune? This is a rare chance for Microsoft to snag some Mac users. However, I doubt that MS is that smart (they cannot even put unicode fonts in the Zune).

Now, taking a step back, let’s take a look at the iPod Touch lineup. Did you notice something missing? Yeah, no 16GB! There a jump from 8GB to 32GB. I wonder what is going on here. I can speculate that, assuming the production problems is true, that Apple has to fill the gap quick, and put the 8GB 2G Touch back. The 16GB was reserved for the intended new Touch with camera. Also, in the end, Steve said “See you soon.” I’m guessing an October event, introducing the true 3G Touch with video camera, 16GB at $249 and 32GB at $349, filling the gaps nicely, co-existing with the current lineup. Voila! πŸ™‚

There you go, my impression of the 9/9/09 Apple event, and with some analysis/rumor at the end to boot! πŸ˜›

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2009 in 2009, apple, event, impression, ipod, Keynote, nano, september, shuffle, Steve Jobs, touch

 

September Apple event is coming

It’s this Wednesday, 9/9/09. I’ll be following gdgt for keynote coverage and watching TWIT live for Leo Laporte’s commentaries (and occasional live spycam from the keynote). I’ll be comparing notes with my own prediction.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2009 in 2009, apple, classic, event, gdgt, ipod, itunes, nano, rumor, september, shuffle, touch, twit

 

Apple Event: New laptops

Okay, recap on the event that are discussed in too many blogs out there. πŸ˜€
1. Macbook pro 15″ (17″ is only a refresh, still using the old nVidia 8600)
-Glass screen and trackpad
-nVidia chipset
-Dual GPU (1 integrated and 1 discreet)
-Firewire 800, no 400
-DisplayPort (instead of DVI)
-New screen is glossy only
-At the selling prices, IMO 4GB should be standard nowadays

2. Old Macbook
-Starting at $999
-White only
-Superdrive standard, no more combo drive

3. New Macbook
-Glass screen and trackpad
-All aluminum
-nVidia chipset
-nVidia graphics, no more intel
-DisplayPort
-No more firewire 😦 Boo! I guess since the new Macbook resembles really close to the new Macbook pro, Apple had to take something out

4. Macbook Air
-nVidia graphis, no intel, yay!
-Upgraded storage, 128GB SSD! Finally SSD that is larger than the standard hard-drive, but still a very expensive upgrade
-DisplayPort

4. 24″ Cinema display
-Glossy, glass
-Built-in iSight
-$899? Seems pricey to me.
-DisplayPort only
-Magsafe connector
-USB ports only, no Firewire?
-The cables are bundled together, seems perfect for connecting Macbook and Macbook pro, but how about the Air, where the magsafe connector is on the other side? Hopefully the cables can be split long enough

Almost all the rumors and spy pics are correct, other than blu-ray support. There are obvious trends here. Aluminum, DisplayPort, and the move away from Firewire 😦 The new Macbook has a really good value, delivering Macbook pro features (aluminum, LED display, nVidia graphics) at lower prices, as long as you don’t need firewire. I bet a lot of people will buy this instead of the more expensive MBP. However, note that Snow Leopard and iLife09 is coming soon, so for those that can wait, as usual, wait. πŸ˜€

Based on this event, we can already predict what will be on Macworld 09:
-Mac mini. The Mac mini is old. Presumably Apple would update it to using nVidia graphics and DisplayPort. I hope Apple can push the mini’s prices down, maybe utilizing dual core atom processors or the leftovers from old Macbooks. At least get rid of the combo drive and drop the price to be on the magic $499.
-iMac. Again, obvious update to include DisplayPort. Maybe the switch to nVidia instead of ATI? Hopefully quad-core.
-Mac pro. Another obvious upgrade to use video cards that have DisplayPort out to couple them with the new Cinema Display.
-iLife 09 & iWorks 09, couldn’t be more obvious. πŸ™‚

My wish:
I want an Apple netbook, something that has smaller footprint than the Macbook/Air.

Edit: Streaming video of the event is up at Apple’s site, but cut short, not including the Q&A sessions.