Tag Archives: impression

The Avengers

Well, I finally watched The Avengers, the latest installment of Marvel’s super heroes movies. It’s the long awaited movie, bringing several previously standalone super heroes together: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, and Chris Hemsworth reprised their roles respectively, with Robert Downey Jr pretty much stole the show, or probably because Iron Man had the longest gap between his last movie and this one, and thus it felt more exciting seeing him again vs the other heroes. Anyway, here’s my quick impression, and yes, I will spoil the movie.

The story itself is a continuation of the setup from Captain America and Thor movies. Loki made a deal with some alien to use the energon cube, I mean that blue-cube-source-of-energy-thingy, to open a portal so the aliens can invade earth. Pretty straight forward, and the motive were already set for Loki, for revenge against Thor. Thing is, the last time we saw Loki, he fell from Asgard to the abyss. So how did he survive? I guess the “abyss” is space? Anyway, Selvig, the scientist from Thor movie is now investigating the energon cube from Captain America movie, and Loki used the situation to transport himself to earth. At the same time, he brainwashed Selvig and Hawkeye to work for him. Nick Fury then decided to assemble the heroes to get the energon cube back.

It started with Black Widow getting Bruce Banner. With the Hulk having 3 actors now with 2 non-related movies a long while back, it’s hard to relate to the character in this movie. By the way, at the end of Thor movie, Thor destroyed the bridge and thus stuck in Asgard. So how did he manage to go to earth again? And if he could, why didn’t he visit his girlfriend already? Yeah. Oh well, Iron Man is cool as always. As usual, Tony Stark arrived with the eye candy, showing how his landing pad automatically removed his Iron Man armor while he’s walking. Total geek fest. Captain America is pretty much a direct scene continuation from the end of his movie.

What’s great about this movie is the interaction between the heroes, especially Downey Jr as Tony Stark. The other heroes seemed stiff, but Tony Stark is just being Tony, making jokes and insulting everybody. It works great, and thus imo Downey stole the show. They also did a good job in balancing the heroes’ screen time. In movies with multiple main heroes, there’s a threat of having certain heroes taking a back seat. It didn’t feel this way in this movie. Even Hawkeye and Black Widow took quite big parts instead of standing by over the sideline.

How about fan service? This is something that many western movies sometime missed completely. Well, they are in the movies, enough to make fans happy, yet not too much that it makes the movie a bit corny. The best one I remember was when Iron Man and Captain America were fighting the aliens side by side, and Iron Man fired his repulser beam to Captain America’s shield and have the beams deflected to the surrounding aliens. That’s so awesome that the audience was cheering and clapping. Another hilarious part was when Hulk confronted Loki. Loki boasted how he’s a God, and the Hulk simply smashed Loki around like a toy. Again, the audience cracked up. It’s too funny. They did a really good job slipping these things in the movie. Another fan service is the Iron Man mark VII suit, which can fly on its own, matching itself to Stark’s bracelet and armored Stark on the fly, literally. It’s no extremis, but I’ll take it.

Any downside of the movie? Well, Shield is pretty much useless, i.e. they had the energon cube stolen under their nose, and their flying fortress were wrecked and did nothing during the invasion itself. The after credit scene can be hilarious and a huge eye roller at the same time.

Future storyline? It’s clear that Stark is going to use his tower as the Avengers Tower, and Thanos is going to be the next villain. My wishes? To have the X-Men and Spiderman franchise tied together with the Avengers. I want to see the live-action version of the Stark-designed Spiderman suit. Alas, Spiderman is pretty much Sony’s.

In short, The Avengers is a quick and fun action movie with enough toppings to please fans. It’s a great movie to distract me. Thumbs up, recommended. But enough distraction, back to making Accel World AMV now. πŸ˜‰

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in impression, movie


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Accel World, a new anime based on a light novel by the same name. It’s been a while since I’m interested deeply into an anime, and I can say that I am officially addicted to Accel World. How addicted? Let’s just say I have watched the anime episodes at least three to four times back to back, and re-read the manga over and over. Not sure how long my attention span would last, but so far, this is THE anime in my brain. Heck, I even start to lose interest in Kamen Rider, my usual top notch franchise for my attention. You can tell since I replaced my Kamen Rider avatar with Haru.

So, what is this all about? Let’s start with the background, the technology, which is incredibly interesting by itself especially for a gadget geek like me. The story takes place in the year 2046. In this year, the technology to create a virtual reality directly fed into your brain is commonplace. Think Google glasses + The Matrix. Instead of glasses, the device is attached behind the neck like a collar. The device creates a virtual desktop space in front of the user’s vision where he/she can interact with a PC-like OS UI (complete with file manager, windows, email clients, viewing pictures and videos, sending and receiving files, etc). User interacts with the UI just like having a computer in front of them, where they use their fingers to touch and move the UI components. From a 3rd party point a view, the user will look like he/she is typing/moving around his/her fingers on thin air. This neuro link interface can connect to another interface via wired or wireless connection. According to the story, wired connection bypassed the built-in firewall, and only used with people that trust each other (eg. family members, lovers) as one can do malicious things without the user knowing (also portrayed in the story). The interface can also connect to a greater network (eg. a school or hospital intranet), and to the “global network,” presumably the evolution of the internet. Connecting to the global network is optional, but it is used for many things, including transferring funds and gaming. Intranets like the school network can offer their own virtual environment, even something that akin to MMORPG where students design and use avatars to interact with each other, even playing games, all in a virtual world.

In this world, CCTV cameras are also common place, especially in schools. Although not fully explored, cars are also very tightly controlled with an AI for safety to the point that accidents are rare, although there are ways to defeat the system.

Amongst the young people, exists an underground fighting game called Brain Burst. This game is not known to the adults as one of the requirements is that the user being equipped with a neuro link interface since birth. The game software basically overclock the human heart’s “clockspeed” to speed up brain activity a thousand time over, thus the user is in an accelerated state where he/she is outside the normal time plane and the world around him/her seem to freeze/incredibly slowed down. This ability called burst link, and the players are called burst linkers. This ability allows the user to gain advantage in many things in real life, but using this ability requires burst point, which is only obtainable through fighting other burst linkers.

Now to the characters. The main character is a chubby kid named Haruyuki Arita (Haru) that is frequently bullied in school. His escape venue is the virtual world, where despite his avatar being a cute pig, his activity and movements have no restriction and he is the top scorer of the in-game squash game. His performance piqued the interest of Kuroyukihime, his senpai and vice president of the student council. She invited Haru to install the Brain Burst program, allowing him to gain the burst link ability, and also fight as Silver Crow, his fighting avatar.

To a casual anime viewer, this is just the typical fighting anime (main character that is starting weak and going through pain and gain fighting stronger and stronger opponents). But for some reason, this franchise captivates me. Not too sure why. Is it the tech involved? Many western fiction often paint our future world as grim and doom despite the advance technology (Star Trek being the exception, which is why I love that franchise too). Japanese fiction seems to have a more positive spin on the future world of technology, as shown how the neuro link devices used in education and student interaction in this anime (compare this to the likes of Blade Runner, The Matrix, or Minority Report). Is it the cute characters? Is it the story itself? The great voice actors? Kuroyukihime is pretty much the staple of a loli (yeah, tons of you-know-what doujins are already made). Coupled with Chiyu-chan, Haru’s childhood friend, and future characters, it’s akin to the typical school/cute harem genre. Haru’s pig avatar is adorable too. I’m a sucker to anime depicting romantic school life.

I’m also a sucker to highly touching moments, which this anime has plenty of. In fact, here is one of the best scene in the anime so far:

Is it the awesome soundtrack? Just listen to the BGM of the clip above. The even more awesome OP and ED songs? The opening theme song is “Chase the World” by may’n. The ending theme song is “β†’unfinishedβ†’” by KOTOKO. Both are highly addictive fast-paced songs. I made an AMV using the opening song, reflecting the technology in Accel World, Haruyuki’s life in real and virtual world, his introduction to Kuroyukihime, funny and touching moments with Chiyu-chan, and his fight against his other best friend turned enemy, Takumu.

I’ll be following this franchise with a passion. Heck, I even signed up for Hulu Plus just to be able to watch the latest episode ahead of the fansubbers. I already ordered/pre-ordered the OP and ED CDs. The anime is fansubbed by plenty of groups (or you can catch it via Hulu Plus). The manga has also been translated. The light novel has partial translations here and there. The you-know-what doujins are plentiful. I couldn’t get the songs out of my head. It’s official, I’m addicted to Accel World! ^_^

By the way, I got the avatar from this pixiv user. Pixiv has a ton of cute drawings, but of course, tread carefully, as there are a ton of NSFW pictures too. πŸ˜‰

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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in anime, impression, music video


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Samsung Infuse 4G impression

After being disappointed by T-Mobile’s LG G2x, my search for a new phone continues. The selections outside US are grand, between the highly praised Samsung Galaxy S 2, or Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc/Neo, etc. Alas, NONE of those phones are being released in the US by their respective douchebag companies. Instead, what do we have? Samsung released a rehashed Galaxy S 1 phone on AT&T, called the Samsung Infuse 4G. Trying to import the Galaxy S 2 is prohibitively expensive and risky (at least $750, and it will have no warranty whatsoever). However, I’m too annoyed with my Nexus One already that I finally bite and checked out the Samsung Infuse 4G from the lovely AT&T.

First of all, it IS a re-hashed Galaxy S 1 phone. It contains the same single core processor as with the Galaxy S 1 phones, albeit at slightly higher clockspeed (1.2GHz vs 1GHz). While people outside the US are treated with dual-core goodness of the SGS2, US gets some leftovers. Performance wise though, it’s actually not bad. Despite the old architecture and Samsung putting their own skin on top of Android, the phone seems to perform fairly well. AT&T, as bad as they are, did a decent job by not overloading the phone with too much junk ware. Remember my review of the G2x, where T-Mobile put buggy old junkware apps in it that you cannot force-close? AT&T didn’t do that. Sure, the stuff that are pre-installed on the Infuse cannot be uninstalled, but you can easily force-close them if needed. This probably explains why the Infuse, despite having an older hardware, feels better and more stable than the G2x. The only glitches I experienced are mostly related to Froyo as I also experienced them when I had Froyo on my Nexus One. Gingerbread should take care of those, if AT&T is kind enough to update the Infuse.

Did I say Froyo? Yeah, in 2011, while other countries are getting Gingerbread phones, US gets old phones with old OS sold as new. Pathetic and sad. Even worse, it’s not even the latest version of Froyo, which is 2.2.2. It’s 2.2.1. You might think what’s the big deal. OS updates is a HUGE deal in modern smartphones because it doesn’t only give you new features, but also bug fixes and security fixes. Emphasis on security. There are serious security flaws that are fixed in Gingerbread, leaving tons of Android with Froyo vulnerable. It is extremely irresponsible of the OEMs and carriers for not pushing updates in a timely manner. Imagine if Dell or HP blocked service packs of Windows. There will be a huge outrage and security concern.

The main seller of the Infuse is its 4.5″ screen. Yeah, it’s massive! It puts my iPhone 3GS and Nexus One to shame. It’s even bigger than the LG G2x. The 4.5″ Super AMOLED screen is a beauty, bright and vibrant colors. Alas, it still has the same resolution as my Nexus One, 800×480. Definitely not “retina” resolution, and it kinda shows on some fonts and icons, aliased jaggies aplenty. Still, there are times now that I appreciate the larger screen. Maybe signs of my eyes getting old. πŸ˜€

Another main seller of the Infuse is 4G, or more like fake 4G. AT&T is marketing HSPA+ as 4G. This may make you think the Infuse is somewhat more “advance” than something like the Galaxy S2, even though the Galaxy S2 also supports HSPA+, minus the hype and marketing. Is it fast? It is. I can get 3 to 5mbps down and 1mbps+ up. This is a lot faster than my iPhone 3GS, which usually gets only up to 2mbps down and a lousy 50-100kbps up. A far cry for sure. Still, it’s not really 4G, and it’s unfortunate that everybody now is misusing the monicker, thanks to T-Mobile. Now, the Infuse apparently is not compatible with GoPhone for data, even if you have purchased data packages. I have a GoPhone pay-as-you-go SIM for backup, and it works fine for data on my Nexus One and 3GS, but it doesn’t work at all on the Infuse, not even reverting back to 3G or EDGE. It just doesn’t work.

The camera is sweet. It’s not as fancy as the G2x though. The G2x can do 1080p video while the Infuse is maxed out at 720p. Still better than my Nexus One and 3GS. The front facing camera on the Infuse is also 1.3MP, beating the VGA resolution on most other phones, including the iPhone 4. Photo is at 8MP on the rear facing camera. Nice.

Samsung is quite generous on the internal storage, 16GB partitioned into the usual ~1+GB for apps and the rest as internal “SD card.” There’s also a microSD card for even more storage. I’ve been downloading apps like crazy, finally being freed from the limited internal memory of the Nexus One. The SIM slot is located above the battery so you can replace it without having to take the battery out. However, the microSD card slot is located UNDER the SIM slot, and access to it is blocked by the battery. It’s not that easy to take it out either since, so if you are those people that like to change SD cards often, well, look elsewhere. The Infuse comes with a measly 2GB microSD card, but considering you already have ~16GB internal storage, it’s not a big issue.

One thing I immediately miss is the trackball on the Nexus One. As silly as it may look, the trackball on the N1 serves as a very useful notification light, so I can see if the phone need my attention without having to turn it on. No such thing on the Infuse, just like the iPhone.

Another surprise is that the Infuse actually supports 5GHz 802.11n, a nice update from most other phones that usually only support the crowded 2.4GHz band.

One drawback of Android is its media capability. Let’s face it, nothing beats the iPod integration on iPhones, and their ecosystem of accessories and support, especially in cars. My car has a USB port that supports my 3GS. As expected, the Infuse doesn’t work with it like the iPhone did, it only works for charging, no difference than the Nexus One. Sad. 😦

The Infuse comes with an HDMI adapter. It basically converts the micro-USB slot into an HDMI slot. However, you have to plug-in a power source on the HDMI adapter instead, making it a dongle-cable mess.

So, let’s recap.
The goods:
+decent performance for an old single core phone
+not too much junkware from AT&T
+other sources for apps is enabled
+beautiful huge screen
+tri-band HSDPA: 850/1900/2100
+HSPA+ is decently fast

The bads:
-4.5″ may be too big for some
-old hardware released as new, while other countries are getting the dual-core SGS2
-old outdated and buggy OS
-all the stuff one may not like on Android (eg. media capability, accessories support, etc)
-locked to AT&T
-fake 4G

If you’re on AT&T and you need a new phone, what are your options on the same price range? The main one will be the dual-core Motorola Atrix 4G, which is sold for the same price. Despite having dual-core, the Atrix has poorer screen, only VGA front-facing-camera, and at this point, I have a felling Samsung is more likely to pull through with updates than Motorola. The Atrix does have fancy feature like finger-print scanner and you could turn it into a linux netbook using an optional expensive dock. I’m not a fan of Motorola though.
Another phone on the same price range is the 16GB iPhone 4. At this point in time, however, I wouldn’t get the iPhone 4 as the iPhone 5 is near the corner.
Then there’s the cheaper Samsung Captivate, which is an AT&T variant of the Galaxy S. Cheaper, smaller screen, but no front facing camera.
There’s also the HTC Inspire, but since HTC only made it with dual-band 3G (850/1900), I’m not interested.

So there you go, a quick impression on the AT&T Samsung Infuse 4G.


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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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Nexus One

I guess I haven’t updated my blog for quite some time. Too lazy as it’s easier to rant on twitter. LOL. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

I’m a Mac and iPhone user, mainly. Apple’s ecosystem has been great and working for me. However, I’m thinking, what if sometime in the future, the iPhone is no more? I mean Steve Jobs is not going to man the company forever. Although I’m sure the rest of Apple will do fine, keeping the same Apple philosophy, but what if? So here I am, thinking the what if scenario. I love my iPhone, and I think it’s the best phone. Looking outside Apple ecosystem, what are the alternatives? Let’s see:
-Symbian: Yeah, right.
-WebOS: It’s great, but obviously it’s on life support.
-Windows Phone 7: This would be a great alternative, but it’s not out yet.
So, that leaves Android. Android seems to be the next best thing in terms of smartphone OS/platform. It has the same idea and UI concept as iOS. The downside is, at least in the US, all Android phones are carrier-controlled. This is in contrast of iOS where Apple is the one in control, not AT&T nor any of the carrier partners all over the world. There was one pure unadulterated Android phone, the Nexus One (N1). Yeah, was, because Google doesn’t sell the Nexus One openly anymore. Now, it’s only available as part of the dev program, and only the T-Mobile model (no 850 3G support). Luckily, I managed to get the AT&T 3G supporting Nexus One before it was too late. I was hoping Google would drop the price, but then decided to just get it. Lucky me, as now this phone is extinct.

Let’s go straight to the experience. While the iPhone is obviously designed around Apple’s ecosystem, the Nexus One is obviously designed around Google’s ecosystem. The first thing it asked was a Google account. If you don’t have one, you have to create one. Now, if you already use Google services for your contacts, calendar, and email, once you put in your Google account credential, the Nexus One is ready to go with all your contacts, email, and calendar all setup. It’s awesome! No need to “activate” the phone first, unlike the iPhone which needs to be activated with iTunes. Now, there’s something that’s even more awesome. Google Voice. I’m a Google Voice user since before it was bought by Google (it was called GrandCentral). Using Google Voice on the iPhone is very clunky as there is not a native app. You pretty much rely on the Google Voice website to make phone calls. Not intuitive. On the Nexus One, Google Voice is fully integrated. All you need to do is tell it to use Google Voice, and everything is transparent. You still use the phone’s dialer and contacts, and it will automatically route your call via Voice. Pure awesomeness!

The beauty of iOS is the app ecosystem. Android is not too far off. Most apps that I use on the iPhone are available for my Nexus One. Facebook, Twitter, epocrates (albeit beta and not updateable), Foursquare, Gowalla, etc. Unless you’re into games, you won’t find much problems finding the apps you want on Android. The only problem I see is the market app itself. Apple has designed its App store fairly well in terms of layout. The market app on the Nexus One is very basic, and it feels very difficult browsing the store. A lot of the apps don’t have much useful descriptions. Even worse, many don’t even include any screenshots, leaving you guessing what the app can do. The reviews are not helping either. Apple’s app store seems to have more helpful reviews, while the Android market reviews seem to be mostly people complaining about the app FC. FC this, FC that, one star. Not really helpful. Oh, and what’s FC? Yeah, at first I was like WTF? FC is a short for force close. Meaning the OS have to quit the app forcefully (aka, the app crashes). And these 1 star FC “reviews” are all over the place. Trying to get the gist of how good the app is becomes futile. Why? Because who knows whether these people having issues are using which Android phone/custom ROM/rooted phone/task killers, etc. But at least if you stick with the well known apps, you should be fine. I myself never experience a force close on my Nexus One.

Okay, most of the apps I would use are available. Great. I also use my iPhone as a calendar. The Nexus One sync its calendar with Google calendar. Pretty neat, but the calendar app itself doesn’t look great. It feels like a Winmo app for whatever reason. I do like the agenda view. One thing I was looking for on my Nexus One main screen and failed to find was anything that shows the day’s date. I was baffled at first. Why? Well, iOS made it simple, by making the calendar’s app icon to show the day’s date, just like in OS X 10.5 onward. Sounds simple, but it’s intuitive. Not the case on my Nexus One. The calendar icon is only a generic non-interactive icon. Well, that’s useless. On the bright side, there are widgets.

Ah, widgets. The Nexus One already come with various widgets, like weather, music playback shortcut, etc. Going through the Android market, and you’ll find even more widgets. So many that it’s ridiculously confusing. Just search for a weather widgets and you’ll find gajillions of them, although most of them are the same widget with different skins. I finally found a simple date widget that simply shows the day’s date.

One extremely under-rated feature on the iPhone is the silent hardware slider. Sliding this switch automatically silences the iPhone. There’s no such switch on the Nexus One. On the bright side, there are widgets that provide shortcut on the home screen to quickly toggle between silent/vibrate/normal mode. The downside is, since this is a software solution, you have to do it with the screen is accessible. Meaning if the phone is on stand-by, you have to push the power button, unlocked the screen, find the widget, and toggle it. On the iPhone, I simply switch the hardware slider. Much simpler huh, especially if you have your phone inside your pocket.

Another annoyance on the N1 is that the only way to activate the phone out of stand-by is with the thin power button at the top. This is annoying. The trackball button does nothing. The 4 “buttons” on the face of the phone are touch buttons, not physical buttons, thus won’t bring the phone out from stand-by. On the iPhone, I can simply press the home screen to activate the phone from stand-by, which usually is where my thumb is. Tiny details like this is what makes me appreciate Apple products.

One the the apps I use often on my iPhone is maps. The Nexus One obviously has Google maps built-in. One thing I immediately noticed is that even though the maps app on the N1 supports multi-touch, instead of being able to zoom-in/out smoothly, it seems that there are only several pre-set zoom levels. Although the zooming effect is smooth during pinching, after I lift my finger, the map snaps to the nearest pre-set zoom level. I find this very annoying as I’m used to the maps app in iOS where it simply stays to whatever zoom level I did after pinching. On the bright side, the navigation mode is better than iOS. The N1’s maps app allows showing directions as a list of text, something that sometimes is easier to read than tiny letters on a map screen. To top it off, the N1 has a its own navigation app, which providers GPS navigation, for free! There are nav apps for iOS too, but it’s hard to beat free. The nav app on the N1 pretty much turn the phone’s UI into a “car mode.” It replaces the home screen with several big icons, typical of a GPS navigation device. Also, using this mode is one way to quickly keep the phone’s screen from turning off without specifically changing the settings.

Android has a slightly different paradigm on showing apps on the home screen. In iOS, all the apps you have is on the home screen. That’s it. Pre iOS4, you can kinda pre-set specific home screens to contain specific apps for a bit of organization. iOS4 introduces folders to make organization more manageable, but the idea is straight forward, all you apps are all directly accessible from the home screen. Android took a more traditional desktop OS paradigm. The home screen is your desktop. You can put shortcuts, widgets, etc on it. Your apps are accessible through the program drawer, which will infinitely scroll through however many apps you have. Not that easy if you have a ton of apps, so most people would end up putting the apps’ shortcuts on the desktop to mimic iOS. You can also create folders on the Android’s desktop. However, it’s amazingly flawed, which made folders in iOS4, albeit late, is a ton more intuitive in terms of implementation. Why? Well, in Android, once you put a shortcut into a folder, you cannot rearrange the icons. Yeah, sounds stupid isn’t it, but that’s the case. The icons will simply be sorted based on the order you put the shortcuts into the folder. In contrast with iOS4, you can simply tap and hold, and you can freely re-arrange the icons in any order you want. Another drawback is due to Android using the paradigm of a desktop OS. Inside a folder, you have a bar at the top representing the folder’s name, and an X button at the right corner to close the folder. In iOS4, once inside a folder, you can simply close it by touching anywhere outside the folder. Easy. Not the case with Android. You have to touch that X button to close the folder, and the button is fairly small for my finger that sometimes I need to press it several time to close a folder. Not intuitive especially when you’re on the go and you want to do things quickly using one hand. Just another situation that makes you appreciate the tiny details in Apple products.

Okay, so what else do I usually use my iPhone for. Pictures. Putting pictures on the iPhone is actually a hassle, more than it supposed to. Unless you use 3rd party apps, you have to use iTunes to sync pictures to the iPhone. That may sound okay, but today, I have pictures all over the place. My computer, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, etc. There’s no integration in iOS. You have to pretty much use one or more 3rd party apps outside the built-in photo app. This is true even for Apple’s own MobileME service. This going in-and-out apps just to view your pictures is not intuitive. On my N1, when I put in my Google account, its gallery app automatically pulls and sync pictures from the Picasa account associated with the Google account. Very nice! You can add more than one Google account too if you have more than one Picasa account. Also, this means the pictures are not stored internally, only downloaded on demand, saving storage space. The gallery app on the N1 is very nice, uses the accelerometer to simulate tilting the “photo album.” Of course, it’s not all perfect. The app only syncs picture with Picasa. You have to rely on 3rd party apps if you use other online services outside Picasa. One app that I like is called justpictures, an aggregator app for your pictures from various online services, including Facebook. Oh, and it’s free. This is something that Apple needs to re-think on their approach in iOS. Windows Phone 7 supposedly will offer even more integration as its default picture hub can aggregate pictures from various online services outside the box.

I use my iPhone heavily as an iPod. iTunes is just an amazing jukebox software, especially for podcast, and the integration of syncing music and podcast with the iPhone is just beautiful. So, how do I do this on the N1? Well, it’s a journey of frustration. The N1 doesn’t have any desktop client app. So, my first though is to download podcasts directly on the phone. Google has an app called Google listen. It’s a simple and straight forward app, allowing you to subscribe, download, and listen to podcasts. However, there’s quite a bit of downsides. Downloading podcasts straight to my phone is slow, even on wifi. To me, the iTunes approach is faster as the heavy duty lifting is done on the desktop, and iTunes simply copies the files to my iPhone. Also, Google listen is not integrated with the default music app, and doesn’t have its own widget for playback control. This means I have to go to the app for controls. Not intuitive. I rather have a solution that integrates with the default music app, which has a playback control widget. So my next idea is to simply have a desktop software solution. The first one that comes up to mind is doubletwist, an iTunes clone. But then apparently the Mac version doesn’t have podcast syncing. BOO! Next alternative is Songbird, but I find that its podcast support is fairly bare, not even supporting some feeds. I finally found a more straight forward syncing solution, Salling Media Sync, which is just a simple syncing program that syncs contents directly from iTunes to the portable device of your choice. Looks great, but you have to pay $22 for a fully syncing feature. Oh well, at least I can try it for free. It works okay. Since the N1’s music app doesn’t have a built-in podcast support, Media Sync simply creates a podcast playlist, and dumps all the podcasts you wanted to sync in that playlist. Not ideal, but I guess it works. At least this way I’m using the default music app.

As for using my N1 as an iPod, well, it’s like having a basic MP3 player. Luckily, my Apple earbud works with the N1. The microphone and play/pause button work fine. Only the volume buttons don’t work, and I have to use the volume button on the N1 itself.

But the journey of frustration didn’t stop there. My next step is to find a solution for listening to those podcasts in my car. My car is old, it doesn’t have an AUX input, let alone USB or iPod support. So the only way to listen to contents from an external device is via an FM transmitter. Sad isn’t it. So my first step is to find a universal FM transmitter, ideally the one that also providers USB charging so I can charge my N1 at the same time. Well, looking around, I realize that everything now is “Made for iPod/iPhone.” The proliferation of iDevices have been so significant that every company is focusing on accessorizing the iDevices, nothing else. What a bummer. 😦 Finally I found a solution from Griffin, a universal FM transmitter (out of dozens of models they make for iDevices). It’s a simple FM transmitter with a 3.5mm audio plug and a USB jack for charging. As for mounting, I got a generic mounting harness that attaches to the air vent in my car. Attaching my N1 to this setup, it’s cables galore since I have 2 cables hanging from my N1, the 3.5mm audio cable and the USB cable. This is also when I found out about the “car mode” of my N1, forcing the screen to remain on. The solution is not pretty, and it’s quite a hassle, especially compared to my previous solution for my iPhone, using this FM transmitter from Belkin. It’s a cleaner solution as it also acts as a holder for my iPhone with a built-in dock connector.

Okay, after all these, I took a step back and realized, why am I doing this. I mean why went through all these hassle just so I can listen to podcasts in my car? I already missed the ease of iTunes syncing with my iPhone. I miss the smoothness and polished feel of iOS. Also, I have to remember that epocrates on Android is not updateable. Finally, I gave up, pulled out the SIM card from my N1, and put it back in on my iPhone 3GS. After waiting for the Apple logo to finish booting iOS, I felt a huge relief. LOL. Yeah, it’s true. Using my iPhone again feels like a blessing. I felt like a lost lamb, going back to the comfort of Apple’s bubble after being lost in the woods of Android. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of things on my N1. Google Voice integration is a huge one. Another thing I like is the notification system. Let’s face it, notification on the iPhone is at the level of a dumbphone. However, there is this level of comfort when using iOS. I cannot describe it, but I know I feel this surge of relief when I returned to using my iPhone after a mere ~3 days using my N1 full time. It made me laugh.

My N1 will be a backup phone from now on. Android is marching on, getting more polish with each version. My only worry is that we will never see a pure Android experience anymore, with all Android devices are pretty much OEM customized (HTC, Motorola, Samsung, etc) and/or carrier controlled. The next excitement will be Windows Phone 7, and maybe it will be the better alternative. In the meantime, I’m back at the comfort of the church of Apple. LOL. πŸ˜€

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Posted by on August 12, 2010 in android, apple, comparison, google, iPhone, review


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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:
-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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iPhone 3GS Impression

Well, tomorrow is WWDC 2010, and the 4th gen iPhone is expected to be announced. I guess it’s a good time to write up my impression of the iPhone 3GS.

So, what made me bought the iPhone 3GS in the first place? If you read my tweets and blog postings of the past, I always criticize the iPhone for being locked to AT&T in the US. Yes, the iPhone 3GS is the first phone I bought that is locked. All of my previous phones were unlocked phones. Why the change of heart? Well, it occurred during the Apple Special Event in September 2009, where Apple introduced the 3rd gen iPod Touch, sans the expected camera. I was so ready to purchase that iPod Touch if it had a camera, but it did not. So I was so upset that I decided to just get the full experience with the iPhone 3GS instead. Yeah, I’m so vain. πŸ˜›

Turn out, having an iPhone really change my digital life. I think it is, and still, the phone with the best user experience. I’m going to go through the devices I brought with me all the time. In the beginning, I always carry a dumbphone, a music player (portable CD player, MD, Sony Walkman, etc), a PDA, and a video player (Cowon). Yes, a PDA, remember those? LOL. I always have my Handspring Palm OS PDA with me. At this point, there were times where I even carried multiple audio players. The iPod changed that, being the best music player imo. At least now I’m sticking to 1 audio player. But then I wanted more on my phone. I want to be able to take pictures with it. I bought a Sony Ericsson Cybershot phone (the K550i). It has a decent 2MP auto-focus camera. Being an SE phone, it has a decent music player software on it, so I thought I would be able to use the phone as a music player too. That didn’t pan out, as the experience on the iPod is way better. On the PDA side, I upgraded to the Palm Tungsten E. I also tried to use it as an audio player, but it never worked out. So there I was, still carrying at least 3 devices with me at all times.

Then came the iPod Touch, and the app store. It blew the Palm OS PDA away. I immediately recycled the Tungsten E the minute the iTunes app store opened as the apps that I needed on the Palm OS are available on for the iPhone OS too. It’s also an iPod, and a video player. So, my carry-on devices went down as now I have consolidated the music player, video player, and the PDA with the iPod Touch. But then I wanted to do more on my phone since I started doing tweeter and using google maps. Yeah, the K550i is only an EDGE phone, but it has google maps and tweeter apps. However, the experience is very poor due to the slow data connection, the small screen, and the fact you have to use the phone’s keypad to navigate. My next phone was the Nokia E51. It has 3G, wifi, larger screen, and Symbian, a smartphone OS. Google maps experience is way better thanks to the larger screen. Twitter experience is better too thanks to the larger screen and faster data. Using more and more of the smartphone feature, I feel the phone is extremely limited in terms of usability, and I always wished the screen was larger. Even worse, the camera of the E51 doesn’t have auto-focus, so in the end I was still carrying my old K550i for taking pictures. In the end, I was still carrying at least 3 devices.

The iPhone 3GS changed everything. It has an auto-focus camera, smartphone OS with the apps I use, and it’s an iPod too. Having the 3GS allowed me to just carry one device that does everything. πŸ™‚ The only catch is, now I’m on contract with AT&T. Before, I was always on prepaid, only spent about $25 every 3 months. Now I have to spend ~$75 every month, but at least I have unlimited data (I don’t plan to fall into AT&T’s trap of the 2GB cap).

So, how’s the iPhone? It’s just great. Actually, I wasn’t really surprised as I’ve been using the iPod Touch, but the constant data connectivity really changes the way you use the apps. The experience using the iPhone is just great. The maps app is extremely useful, and the constant data connectivity made it highly usable. The camera is great. Sure, there are other Nokia/SE phones having better cameras out there, but the integration with the apps on the phone made it much easier and usable to use the camera and upload the pics quickly to places like Facebook/twitter. The various Twitter apps (I use Echofon myself) are a ton more usable than on phones with keypads due to the multi-touch screen. Coupled with various location-based apps, social networking apps, mobile Safari, etc, it really changed the way you’re interacting with a phone. Imo it’s phenomenal.

Sure, smartphones are not new. There are Palm OS, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. But the iPhone is the first one that actually makes every feature that it has highly usable. Example, taking picture and uploading it to tweeter. I can do this already with my K550i, but the experience is extremely poor. No difference on the E51. Doing the same activity is a breeze on the iPhone. Maps, email, I can go on and on. You just cannot beat the iPhone experience, yet. It’s not until recently that we see the competitors are turning around. Android OS 2.2, Symbian^3, Windows Phone 7, etc. Things will be very exciting.

Now, why didn’t I go with Android? During that time, the latest Android phone on the market was T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G, aka HTC Dream, using Android 1.5. I played with it, and although it’s a decent phone (and also brought a new paradigm of touch-screen UI and apps to those coming from dumbphones), the overall experience is not up to the iPhone’s level yet. Everything is laggy. This experience is consistence across the various Android devices I tried (the motorola Cliq, and the Droid). I have a friend with a Droid, and when we’re trying to add each other as friends on Facebook, it was a breeze for me on my iPhone while she was having a hard time (mainly due to the laggy and unresponsive UI). Obviously things have improved today with Android 2.2, but seeing how no devices other than the Nexus One are guaranteed to receive 2.2, I was glad that I went with the iPhone 3GS.

Tomorrow, iPhone OS 4.0 will be introduced, and it will increase the usability of the iPhone 3GS even further, with multi-tasking, better mail app, and folders. As for tethering, I gave up. Obviously AT&T doesn’t want anybody to tether. We’ll see what will happen tomorrow, or maybe I’ll get the Nexus One (I hope Google drop the N1 price tomorrow).

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Posted by on June 7, 2010 in apple, impression, review


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