RSS

Tag Archives: iPad

Apple Special Event September 2015 #apple

Apple’s September event has come and gone. Re-watch the keynote at Apple’s website.

Well, all the common rumours are pretty much on the spot.

Tim Cook is changing the keynote style. Unlike Jobs who likes to talk about statistics before the actual announcements, Tim Cook seems to prefer to just go straight to the announcements.

First, Apple Watch. WatchOS 2, and new models (color) and bands. I thought smartwatch is just an expensive fad. I do own a Motorola 360, and I only bought it due to the price cut when the Apple Watch was released. At $400, I’m still not convinced whether it is worth it to get a first gen product. Time has proven again and again that Apple’s second revision of the product is much better (iPad, iPhone, iPod nano). With Apple pushing apps on the Apple Watch, I am going to wait for the next revision to see if it is finally worth the price.

The more important here to me is the partnership with Hermes. The lay people amy brush this away, but this is the next step of Apple as a business. Apple is making itself into more of a brand company, and it is selecting luxury partners. We will see how Apple progress, and how the other tech companies are confused how Apple is making so much money.

Next up is iPad, and yes, the rumours are correct. We are getting a 12.9″ iPad Pro, with stylus support called Apple Pencil, and a smart keyboard cover. Yes, sounds like the same concept as Microsoft’s Surface.

What’s amazing is the inside. It is sporting an A9X chip, and simply listening to Apple’s claim on what the chip can do is quite mind boggling. Apple claims that it is faster than 80% of the laptops out there. That’s a huge claim, considering intel has been making great improvements on its Atom and Core processors. GPU performance claim is also huge, 2x the 8X, and Apple is claiming it is faster than 90% of laptops out there. Being able to edit 4K movies is a jaw-dropping capability, considering that even my Macbook Pro is still choking on 1080p videos in Final Cut Pro X.I am wondering how Apple does it. Having said that, I am guessing majority of laptops out there are running Atom and low end Celeron and Pentium processors, and thus explain the claim of GPU superiority of the A9X. I mean intel integrated graphics are not the greatest, but I doubt the A9X can match the Iris GPUs, which are in the Macbook Pros.

Other features are 4 speakers, and the new connectors for accessories, including the smart keyboard. However, just like Microsoft, the keyboard cover is sold at a premium, for $170. Oh and there’s the stylus called Apple Pencil, for an extra $100. But it is charging from the lightning connector? It is stupid, having the pencil sticking out on the huge iPad Pro. Maybe Apple Pencil 2 will have a rotatable lightning connector. I harp on Microsoft for note including the keyboard cover with the Surface, but at least Microsoft included the stylus on the Surface Pro.

As usual, Apple made videos starring Johnny Ive to narrate technology into an alluring advertisement. This is the magic of Apple, as it made me interested into getting the iPad Pro. However, I think 12.9″ is too big. I think the iPad Pro is a test bed. When you look at the models available, it has a weird lineup, inconsistent with previous iPads offering. Apple only offers it in 3 models, 32GB, 128GB, and 128GB + cellular. There’s no 32GB + cellular, nor 64GB models. They are expensive too. 32GB model is $800, and the 128GB + cellular is $1080. Yes, finally a $1000 iPad… Sounds like Apple is still determining how the market would react and what kind of demands they would have. Personally, I will be waiting for an updated regular iPad with the Pencil support. That would be a more ideal size for students.

Interestingly, Apple updated the iPad mini into iPad mini 4 without actual announcement. The iPad mini 3 was silly, only adding Touch ID over the iPad mini 2. The mini 4 is a more appropriate update, adding the A8 chip. Interestingly, Apple is keeping the mini 2 for the lower price point instead of the mini 3. iPad mini 2 now starts at $270, which is quite a steal imo (the refurbished 16GB wifi is getting close to the $200 price point, being sold at $230). Imagine an iPad at almost the same price as an iPod Touch. On the other hand, Apple now has a sale of iPad lineup, contrasting their typical simple product line up. Now Apple has iPad mini 2, mini 4, iPad Air, Air 2, and the Pro. That’s a lot of models.

Next up Apple TV. Apple finally is making its long-rumored attempt at gaming console, again. The interesting part is the Siri user interface, using the Siri remote with a trackpad on it. It is powered by the A8 chip. It is interesting how this can be clocked as now it doesn’t have as much physical restrictions as Apple’s portable devices. Apple is selling this new Apple TV at two capacity sizes, 32GB for $150 and 64GB for $200. I think this class of device should be simplified, meaning Apple should just sell the 64GB model for $149. I think this is Apple’s trick in upselling. Why? Apps. The new TV will run sophisticated apps just like other iOS devices, including games. I’m guessing Apple is banking for consumers to pay more for more storage for the apps. It will be interesting to see how Roku and Amazon would react to this. Apple’s huge advantage is its huge movie library.

And lastly, the iPhone 6S/6S+. The rumours are pretty much spot on. It has the same outer appearance as the 6 obviously, and there’s a rose gold color option. It is running the A9 chip, and retaining the same capacities and price points as the previous iPhone 6. It has the force touch called 3D touch. Camera is upgraded, with 12MP on the rear and 5MP at the front. It is 4k capable also. Can’t wait to get my hands on this, although I am concerned about the smaller battery and rumours that it still only has 1GB of RAM.

One interesting feature is Live Photos. Basically the camera will be capturing extra frames for a second before and a second later when you press the shutter button, giving you a quick video clip in addition to the picture itself. It reminds me of HTC Zoe, which I said in the past for Apple to copy it. The problem with HTC Zoe is that it is keeping multitude of pictures, creating confusion when backing up the photos as now you have tons of pictures of the “same” thing (which creates the frames of the quick snippet). Looks like Apple made things more seamless. Will be interesting how services like dropbox would deal with live photos.

Another interesting move is for Apple to do its own iPhone instalment plan, which makes you “subscribe” to Apple starting at $32 a month. Apple will give you an unlocked iPhone with AppleCare+, and you will get the new one every year. This is definitely a jab at the carriers as now people can get an iPhone for just $384 a year, and it’s unlocked to boot. This is Apple’s solution to attack the cheap Android phones. Very bold and interesting move, and I hope it gets adopted outside the US where people prefer unlocked and no-contract.

iCloud storage is also updated, with 50GB for 99cents a month. Sounds pretty sweet to me and I might finally bite (although it has not shown on the iCloud purchase setting page yet on Yosemite).

Online, you will see people claiming that the whole thing is underwhelming, mainly because the rumours pretty much nailed everything down, thus no “new” surprises.  However, I think this is a huge turning point for Apple. I can see the A9X as the starting point for Apple to consider an Ax powered Macbook. The Apple Pencil might create a new feature set for future iPads. The new Apple TV is Apple’s attempt to attack the gaming console market with a full app store ecosystem. And finally the iPhones 6S/6S+, creating a new UI experience with 3D Touch. People judge books by its cover. So people will be more excited when they see a new Android device that look different (but only having minuscule improvements inside), while scoff off Apple’s S-cycle iPhones that carry a lot inside but appear the same externally. I mean seriously, look at the Xperia Z3, Z4 and Z5. The 6S brings a ton more over the 6 than Sony did for its Xperia flagship.

I have posted about how I am considering switching back to iPhone, and the 6S is the obvious candidate. I will be waiting on the side for Apple Watch 2 and iPad Air 3 with Pencil support. I was considering getting the retina Macbook when Apple updates it with Skylake, but the iPad Pro muddles the water. Can’t wait what Apple can do next year with the A10.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 11, 2015 in impression, Keynote

 

Tags: , , , , ,

How to use whatsapp on multiple devices

One of my main gripe about the popular messaging platform whatsapp is its inability to be used simultaneously on multiple devices. Worse, it can only be installed on a phone device, leaving tablets in the cold.

Well, there is a partial workaround now. Earlier this year, whatsapp created a web app so you can have your whatsapp chat on your desktop computer using the Chrome browser. Things get more interesting, the fact that the web app now supports Firefox and Opera browsers. This creates a workaround to have whatsapp on however many devices you have.

If you have an Android device, it’s very simple. Simply go to web.whatsapp.com with the Chrome browser. You would be redirected to a page telling you to download the native app. Don’t worry. Simply go to the menu and check “request desktop app,” and now you should be greeted with the QR code you can scan with the whatsapp app you have on your phone. That’s it. This is great if you have whatsapp on your Android phone, and you want whatsapp messaging on your other Android devices, be it a tablet or phone. Do note that the way web whatsapp works is that you still need the phone with the native app connected to the internet at all times.

What if you cannot use Chrome? Download the Opera browser and do the same thing. Make sure to set the user agent as desktop.

What if you have an iPad? Well, unfortunately this workaround doesn’t work, even when you use Chrome for iOS. You will be simply redirected to a page saying your browser is not supported. So too bad for iOS fans.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Ideally, you have a cloud based solution and native app on all platforms like telegram. This web app approach is actually more flexible as you can access the platform from any supported browsers. On the other hand, it depends on the browser on the specific platform. Android works fine, but not iOS.

Hope this can be useful for whatsapp fans.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 3, 2015 in tips

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Picking Your Wireless Carrier (USA): Data Plans for Tablets update

I made a post a while back about picking a data plan for a tablet with cellular radio. Some things happened early November, namely the release of the iPad Air. Well, in conjunction, both AT&T and T-Mobile rolled out new data plans that may be of some interest. Unlike typical post paid smartphone plans, data plans on US carriers are not that bad. So it’s great to see more choices.

First, AT&T. In addition to their regular plans, AT&T added two new plans. First one is 250MB for $5 that is good for one day. You may think WTF? However, this is actually not bad for travelers/tourists that may only need a day’s worth of data plan, and they don’t have to shell out $15 (which was the price for 250MB that is good for 1 month). The second plan is the one that is more interesting. $25 for 1GB that is good for 3 months. Why is this great? This allows you to have a secondary plan that will only cost you $8.33 a month, and you get 1GB total data. It is very useful when you occasionally bring your tablet with you on the go once in a while, and you want more than 200MB data per month (more on this later). What is even better, you can sign up for any of the data plans on your tablet (iPad, Nexus 7, etc), and then put the SIM on your smartphone, and voila, smartphone with only data plan. 🙂 I tried this on my HTC One and it works fine, with LTE to boot. Of course, there is a risk AT&T may do something, but so far things are working okay.

I did get into a snafu in activating the plan. It has been a while since I renew the plan on my AT&T account. A quick call to AT&T reprovisioned the SIM (assigned a different number than the old one) and I was good to go.

Next, T-Mobile. T-Mobile is doing something more aggressive. 200MB per month for FREE! Yes, free, as in no payment at all. Sounds good, right? Well, there’s a catch, and I spent hours with T-Mobile support (figured it out myself eventually).

The T-Mobile plan is automatic. If you have an existing prepaid mobile broadband data plan with T-Mobile, you will automatically get the plan, ie. if you don’t renew your plan, you will automatically get the 200MB per month for free.

So, what’s the catch again? Well, here’s my story. I got a T-Mobile SIM that I use on and off for data plan when I need it. I want to test this plan out, so I inserted the SIM on my iPad. Well, it did not work. Every time I tried going to any website, I got redirected to my T-Mobile site. If I tried logging in with my account information, it got stuck in a page saying the site is down. Now, I thought this would be as easy as T-Mobile re-provisioning my SIM just like my issue with AT&T, right? Nope. I called T-Mobile, the rep was quite baffled as everything was shown to be okay on their end, and decided to put in a temporary pass so at least it would work. Well, it did work for a couple of days, then it’s back to square one when the pass expired. Called T-Mobile again, wasted 1 hour being transferred multiple times and having to re-tell the story again and again, and the final rep pretended that she could not hear me and disconnected me. Some of the reps did not even know about the plan. Even funnier, one did not even know what an iPad is (he kept referring it as my phone, and one time he asked which manufacturer made the iPad, and whether it’s a T-Mobile or non-T-Mobile iPad. Seriously. Note that all iPads are unlocked so this should not even be questioned). Resetting the connection, rebooting the iPad, nothing.

I decided to go to a local T-Mobile store. The guy checked out my account, changed to a new SIM, still no go. My account showed that my device is my Nexus 7. When I activated that SIM for the first time, I did it on my Nexus 7. Well, guess what. Apparently the SIM is locked to whatever device it was originally activated from. I put the SIM into my Nexus 7, and it works. What a load of crap. I tried putting the SIM into my Nexus 4, and I got a voice mail saying that my service has been restricted. So yeah, T-Mobile doesn’t want you to switch your SIM around different devices. If you want data plan on a different tablet, you have to get a new SIM and activate it in that tablet. Also, you cannot use this trick to get a data only plan on your smartphone (similarly, T-Mobile does not allow you to use a SIM with a smartphone plan on a tablet).

Well, there you go. Newer options to get data plan on your tablet. If you don’t need to switch devices and 200MB per month is fine, the 200MB T-Mobile plan is great. However, once you need flexibility, you need to pay up. If you need a good amount of data on your tablet, AT&T’s 1GB for $25 for 3 months is not such a bad deal. If you don’t need it for that long, Verizon is better as they give you 1GB for $20. If you need a smartphone plan with a good amount of data, T-Mobile’s own $30 a month is still the best deal, giving you 5GB of 4G data. None of the tablet data plans can match that.

Hopefully my experience may be useful to others. 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 4, 2013 in rant, tips

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Apple Special Event October 2013 Impression

Well, that was quick. Apple live streamed their keynote, and the stream is already available. As an armchair critic, time for yet more 2 cents from me. 😀

The keynote started with a very deep video that is basically Apple explaining to those bloggers that are shouting that they are no longer innovative because they don’t have huge phones with swimming fish as a wallpaper like Android. Typical Apple, the video is highly produced. It’s simple, yet enjoyable to watch.

As usual, the keynote started with Tim Cook with the stats. 9 million iPhones sold since the 5s/5c launch. Damn, and I thought we are in recession. Tim Cook showed a video, a very highly produced one, showing the launch day with people lining up and getting excited. Plenty of Asians in the video, kinda hinting Apple is serious in targeting China as their market. This is one of the reasons watching Apple keynote a lot more enjoyable than any other companies’. They just produced their stuff extremely well, unlike the other companies that seem to stuck in the 90s style of rigidity. I mean seriously, try watch Samsung or even Microsoft’s presentation for the Surface 2. And they wonder why Apple is garnering the brand awareness and mindset of the public. Genius marketing.

Oh, in the video, there’s a dude buying five of the 5c cases. Scalper alert!

“Biggest and fastest software upgrade in history… ever.” Yeah, Cook was talking about iOS7. Sounds great, but can you fix the battery drain and cut back on the animations please? They are getting old after two days. Tim Cook stated how great it is that consumers can experience the latest features. Yes, tell that to iPhone 4 owners.

A mention of iTunes radio with a plug for Justin Timberlake. Meh. Wake me up when all Avex’ catalog are in. Apps. Yes, we heard this before. Mac, with mentions of OS X, iLife, and iWork. Tim Cook seemed to be stumbling, hope he’s okay.

“The competitors are confused. They are making PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs.” LOL. Yes Microsoft, that’s you.

Craig was next with OS X Mavericks. Echo… Somebody is going to get some spanking later.

We heard many of these before in WWDC. Craig is claiming you can get an hour more battery life on the Haswell Macbook Air. That’s quite a feat if it’s true. Variable graphics memory allocation. Tags, which is not new as older OS X already has it, it was just called label. Why tags? I think this is Apple’s way of eliminating the file system from the user. I can see this being expanded on future versions of OS X, and the files and folders that we are used to getting more and more hidden.

Even Craig seemed to be stumbling, rushed. The presentation does not feel as tight as when Jobs was running the show.

Demo on Mavericks feature, showing integration between notification, mail, calendar, maps, etc.

Windows 8 pro for $199. Yep, jab #2 at Microsoft. Mavericks? Free! Even for those running Snow Leopard! Well, not completely unexpected. Many people have said this when Apple dropped its upgrade price to $20. Apple get their money from selling hardware. Still, a nice touch. I can see OS X updates will be just seamless in the future. Since it is free, it will be just an ongoing software updates. People do not have to worry anymore about what OS version they are running.

For me, I am sticking on Lion a bit longer (yeah, I have not even upgraded to Mountain Lion). It is always wise to wait for the first of second point update before upgrading an OS.

Phil was up next. Great reviews on Macbook Air. New retina Macbook Pro. That old Macbook Pro? Yeah, they are step children now that Apple doesn’t even upgrade it to Haswell. New Retina Macbook Pro is lighter and thinner. Gee, what’s new. 😀 Better battery life thanks to Haswell. Oh, and a keynote tip from Apple. See how Phill talked about the increased battery life, then showed a Macbook Pro with a screenshot from Batman movie, and then from behind, showed two more Macs and stated how you can watch the entire trilogy in one charge. Great presentation indeed!

Of course, everything is upgraded. PCI-e SSD, 802.11ac, Thunderbolt 2, Mavericks. Base 13″ model starts at $1299, pretty much set to replace the old Macbook Pro. Oh, best yet, shipping today! Again, this is why Apple is so successful. Many other Windows laptop OEMs have not even shipped their Haswell laptops that they announced earlier this year. The 15″ model is getting Iris Pro, with higher priced option for nVidia GPU, GT 750M. Interestingly enough, the 15″ model has less battery life than the 13″ model (8 hours vs 9 hours). 15″ starts at $1999 with Iris Pro, and shipping today too.

Mac Pro. In short, $2999, shipping in December. Yeah, not cheap. Nice, but too rich for my blood. Typical Apple, to entice you to spend that much money, they make a documentary on the making of the Mac Pro in the assembly line. Unlike Jony Ives’ documentary, the background is black. 😀 Can’t wait for the parodies people will make.

Next up was Eddie, with iLife, new versions for iOS and Mac. Finally, matching icons on the iOS version to match iOS7 style.  Eddie simply blazed through the apps without much demo other than Garage Band. I’m curious on the new iMovie and iPhoto, but alas, no demo. In-app purchase for Garage Band! Yeah, Apple made these apps for free, and they went into the IAP game. I just hope they don’t do that for iMovie effects.

New iWork. More syncing with iCloud and web version, plus collaboration! Take that Google Docs. Fun demo. Seems better rehearsed than Craig’s Mavericks demo. Free. Office 365 for $99 per year. Jab #3 at Microsoft. I guess it’s better to poke fun at Microsoft than Google.

They are all available today, but I cannot install them!! 😦 Why? They require Mavericks! No fun for me and my Lion. Oh, and no free iWork for me too. Have to buy new Macs. 😦

Tim Cook returned with stats for iPads. Yet more jabs at Microsoft in the most indirect manner. Yet another highly produced video showing iPad in a variety of usages, with Asians and Chinese in them. 😀 I wonder how they record the movie of the guy with a tent hanging on a mountain at the end though.

Phil with new iPads, finally! As expected, the new big iPad follows the iPad mini’s design with thinner bezel. The name becomes iPad Air. iPad Air? Doesn’t sound right. But I guess it’s better than what it could’ve been, ie. “The Newer iPad with retina display.” Even thinner than the previous iPad. What’s amazing is the weight, 1 pound. It runs the A7 SoC. Wait, no A7X? Yeah, I guess Apple sees the A7 is fast enough to push the retina iPad on its own. No TouchID though. No 802.11ac either. Same prices as the iPad 4, November 1, with a new breakthrough in LTE. Just one single SKU for LTE support for all carriers in the world, including all four US carriers. That’s amazing.

Previously, despite all iPads with cellular are unlocked, LTE support is carrier/region specific. You can buy a Verizon LTE iPad 4, for example, and although you can use it on AT&T, you will only get 3G/HSDPA speed. Seems like that’s over now with the iPad Air. It’s quite an amazing feat that we are at this point of universal LTE support this quick. Remember how long it took to even have phones with penta-band HSDPA? Yeah, that Nokia WinRT tablet with carrier branding? Good luck with that. The only downside left is the mess that is the iPhone 5s/5c, with every region having their own SKU with LTE that only works with the carriers in those region.

And, the iPad 2 lives! Yes, still at $399. More like the iPad for suckers, especially when you see the new iPad mini having the same price. I mean really, the iPad 2 was great, but it was released in 2011, running the old A5 SoC that doesn’t even get many of iOS7’s new features. You are better off buying a refurbished iPad 4 or the new iPad mini.

Of course, another documentary starring Jony Ives.

Ah yes, the new iPad mini. It finally received retina display thanks to the A7. And Apple didn’t stop there, they used that as an excuse to increase the price. The new iPad mini now starts at $399, shipping November (but no specific dates). Yeah, you still want to buy that iPad 2? 😀 Space gray is the new word for black. The old iPad mini hangs around at $299 for the 16GB wifi. I guess that’s Apple’s answer to the new Nexus 7.

Seriously, the iPad 2 and old iPad mini are for suckers, considering they are running a two generation behind SoC.

Tim Cook returned to wrap up the show.

So, how was my prediction? I got pretty close, although I got the order wrong. I thought Apple was going to do a 12″ retina Macbook to sneak in between the Macbook Air and the retina Macbook Pro, but looks like Apple managed to push the price of the retina Macbook Pro down, making the old legacy Macbook Pro a step child. Mavericks is free, which is unexpected but not surprising. New iLife and iWork. New iPads as expected, with a price jump on the retina mini, and the old ones linger around for suckers.

Of course, no Apple TV, and no smartwatch. Cue in the tech bloggers bitching on how Apple lacks innovation, ignoring the feat of engineering that brings 1 SKU to support all LTE around the world. As for me, I have been waiting for a retina mini since the original iPad mini was announced, so I’m getting that one. Bye bye Nexus 7, it’s nice knowing ya.

What’s on your shopping list?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Apple October 2013 Event Prediction

Another month, another Apple event, and another 2 cents from me.

Since the iPhone 5c/5s are out already, the checklist is getting shorter. Kinda obvious that this time, it will be new iPads.

First, redesign of the big iPad into a slimmer model, using the iPad mini’s design language. I think this is pretty much a given considering the leaks. The question is the inside. Will it have the fingerprint sensor that Apple debuted with the iPhone 5s? I think so as I think it will be running off a souped up A7 processor, probably dubbed A7X. Ever since the iPad 3, Apple always pushed their SoCs on the big iPad to take advantage of the bigger room and battery. Everything else will be familiar though, same price points as current iPad 4 with same capacities. I mean I don’t see why Apple would change anything as they are selling these by the boatload at these prices. I wonder how the LTE versions would fare though, considering the mess it is with the iPhone 5c/5s, with their multiple region specific SKUs that pretty much “lock” the LTE support only for that region.

Second, the mini. Last year’s mini was a disappointment due to the lack of retina display. Also, it’s running the old A5 SoC, the one on the iPad 2. I think Apple would finally put retina on the mini this time. The challenge of putting a retina display on the iPad mini is two-folds. One is the smaller battery powering the much higher resolution, while keeping the “legendary” 10-hour battery life. Second is performance/head dissipation, as the retina display requires more GPU power to drive. Apple learned that lesson with the iPad 3, where even the A5X was not good enough to drive the retina display. I think this time though, even the plain A7 would be able to do it. Apple has been pushing the GPU capabilities of their SoCs a lot, and I think now they can finally pair retina display with the mini. Also, I think Touch ID is going to be present, because why not (the A7 supports it). Same price points and capacities.

What else other than iPads? The retina Macbook Pros have not been updated to Haswell yet, which is not too surprising considering the number of Windows laptops with Haswell on the market are still very few. The iMac just got its silent refresh. I have a feeling the retina Macbook Pro update to Haswell might be silent too, unless Apple want to brag about the battery life and iris pro GPU. But other than that, there is not much to say about Haswell. Performance is not a huge jump compared to Ivy bridge, so the marketing point to spin is mainly the power savings.

Will the regular Macbook Pro get a refresh? I don’t know, and I doubt it. I think Apple wants to replace the regular Macbook Pro with the retina Macbook Pro real bad. The regular Macbook Pro didn’t even get a display upgrade last year. They are serve well thanks to their optical drive, and they are great as a stop gap between the Macbook Air and the retina Macbook Pro price points. If Apple can push the price of the retina Macbook Pro down, I think we will see the regular Macbook Pro abandoned/discontinued (or it won’t get any updates and will be just faded out silently). There is a rumor about a 12″ retina Macbook rumor, which I think Apple might do if they cannot push the retina Macbook Pro prices down to replace the regular Macbook Pros. It will bring back the old Macbook lineup as the stop gap between the Air and the Pro, now with retina! And with intel’s iris pro GPU, I don’t think we have to worry too much about intel’s GPU performance anymore. If this is true, then I can see them taking over the previous Macbook Pro price points, keeping the retina Macbook Pro as the higher end for better margins. Apple still want you to buy the Macbook Air if you want something cheaper.

Another mac that has not received the Haswell treatment is the mac mini. I think it will get a silent upgrade. The mini is not too exciting to be presented on keynotes, and since Haswell’s main advantage is power saving, it’s not that big of a deal on a desktop. The mini has received plenty of silent refreshes so it’s not too surprising.

Of course, when we talk about Macs, the question linger about the new Mac Pro. Apple said it’s coming this Fall. Well, it’s Fall already, yet nothing much else coming out from Cupertino. It would clash to do a big presentation for this with the iPads on the spotlight. Maybe a separate smaller event.

Then comes OS X Mavericks. I think it would be time to release Mavericks if Apple would also release the new retina Macs. It just gives you a nice flow in the keynote. And same story, $20 for all Macs. Rumor is that Apple might give it for free. Not outside the realm of possibility as $20 is already very inexpensive when you compare it to the price of a single Windows license. 

Apple TV? I don’t think we will see much of it. I mean the end point for that device is to playback 1080p content properly, and the current Apple TV already achieves that. Updating it won’t give much to talk about unless you are doing 4k, and I doubt we are there yet.

iPods? Nope. We already see a color refresh, so I doubt we will see any new ones until next year.

So let’s see how the keynote would go. First, Tim Cook will start with how great the iPhone sales is, and how great their retail business is. Next is the new iPads, and boom, retina iPad mini. Then it’s Mavericks release info and demo, followed by the refresh retina Macbook Pros. And one more thing, 12″ retina Macbook. Sounds good, right? 😀

Smart watch? Meh. Seriously, the rumors about Apple making a smart watch circulating a lot on tech blogs are because that is a rumor started by the tech blogs themselves, so they are basically using their own rumor as news, and keep regurgitating it. It is just a flame bait they will use later when Apple does not do one (simply because there is no reason why Apple would), to criticize Apple being not “innovative” anymore, and that Apple is “disappointing” for not fulfilling the rumors. Seriously, you have a phone that is smarter than ever. Why would you want a half-baked “smart” watch that can’t do much? Let a watch be a simple watch. I personally have stopped using a watch ever since I have a cellphone.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow, 10am PST.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Picking Your Wireless Carrier part 05: Data Plans for Tablets

Part 5 on my ongoing post about picking a wireless carrier in the US. I am going to touch broadband data plans. Broadband data plans mean plans that are intended for use with data only devices, such as tablets. We are seeing more and more tablet devices equipped with cellular radio for data. Unfortunately, not many MVNOs offer specific data plans for these devices. In the US, just like phones, most cellular radio equipped Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab lineup are carrier locked, meaning you can only buy them through a carrier (the big 4), and thus you can only use that tablet with that carrier as your provider. The only unlocked Android tablet available is the Nexus 7 3G. Apple iPads, on the other hand, are unlocked. But more on that later.

After searching around, the only MVNO that I can see offering a specific data plan of this type is Simple Mobile, and it’s not cheap. $45 a month gives you 2GB data, and $25 gives you 750MB. That’s not much.

Luckily, the major four carriers are not that bad in their rates on data plans. T-Mobile, the carrier that Simple Mobile uses, offers a much better deal. $15 gives you 300MB for 7 days, $25 for 1.5GB that’s good for 1 month, $35 for 3.5GB, and $50 for 5GB. A lot better than Simple Mobile.

As for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, again, Apple’s website offers a straightforward comparison between the three. AT&T offers 250MB a month for $15, 3GB for $30, and 5GB for $50. Verizon offers 1GB for $20, 2GB for $30, and 5GB for $50, while Sprint offers 300MB for $15, 3GB for $35, and 6GB for $50. And they all are on a no-contract basis. Of course, AT&T and Verizon allow you to add your tablet into your existing data-shared plan if you are already with them for an additional fee (additional $10 per month without any additional data), but we are not going there in the first place as they already rip you off on your phone plans.

The prices are very similar and competitive with each other. I mean sure, you will not use this as your main internet as it will be prohibitively expensive due to the paltry data quota, but for occasional use, it’s not bad. Plus, you are not under a contract so you can simply sign up for the data plan, and discontinue it when you are not using it.

Now, this won’t mean much for most people as like I said, most Android tablets with cellular radio in the US are provider locked. If you want a Samsung Galaxy Tab with 3G/LTE, well, pick the carrier you love as it will be locked to that carrier. In my view, for Android, there is only one choice, the Nexus 7 3G. Not only it’s fairly inexpensive (just $300 for the 32GB with 3G model), it has penta-band HSDPA radio (thus works with both AT&T and T-Mobile’s 3G) and unlocked. No LTE, so stop reading and go to your favorite carrier if you want LTE. Google sells two kinds of the Nexus 7 3G, one with AT&T SIM, another one with T-Mobile SIM. Don’t worry, the device itself is not locked and you can use either carriers later, you just pick which SIM you want to get from Google.

The interesting device is the iPad/iPad mini with LTE. For LTE speed, you have to pick the iPad that specifically said for the carrier you want to, ie. if you want Verizon LTE, you have to pick the Verizon iPad model. Now, all iPads with cellular radio also have GSM/HSDPA radio in them, and that is unlocked. That means you can put in an AT&T SIM on your Verizon iPad, and it will connect to AT&T just fine. The catch is, no LTE, just HSDPA/3G. Still, it’s not a bad compromise, plus any iPad you buy works with any GSM carriers overseas (again, LTE being the exception. Apple gives a bit more detail on which model supports which LTE in what country).

For the Nexus 7 3G, both T-Mobile and AT&T offer prices that are neck to neck with each other. At the low end, for $15, T-Mobile gives you 300MB, but only lasts for 7 days, while AT&T gives you 250MB that lasts for 30 days. At the top end, they are the same, 5GB for $50. In the middle, T-Mobile has $25 for 1.5GB and $35 for 3.5GB while AT&T has $30 for 3GB. Very close to each other. Personally, if my area has good T-Mobile coverage, I would go with T-Mobile on the Nexus 7 3G as T-Mobile’s HSPA+ is faster than AT&T’s. However, AT&T may offer better coverage in some areas.

If you are buying an iPad with LTE, go with Verizon. Verizon’s $20 for 1GB for 30 days is hard to beat in terms of value. It is usually enough for casual browsing, and Verizon’s LTE coverage is better than AT&T and Sprint. Plus, the iPad is unlocked, so you can put in AT&T SIM for 3G access later on if you want to, or even T-Mobile’s (if T-Mobile has refarmed their 1900 band for 3G in your area).

Now, you must be wondering that there are some smartphone plans that have better prices than these. The big one is T-Mobile’s $30 a month with 5GB data. Well, T-Mobile is not stupid. I personally have tried this, putting the SIM with that plan on my Nexus 7 3G. Nada. T-Mobile blocks devices that are identified as tablets on that plan. I would think the same applies with other carriers/MVNOs too.

How about tethering? You already pay for a smartphone plan, right? Well, sure. If your phone is not restricted by your carrier, and you only use your tablet outside wifi access occasionally, you can save some money by buying wifi only tablets, and simply use your phone as a portable hotspot when needed. The downside is the inconvenience having to set up your phone all the time to do this, and you are draining both your phone’s battery life and your data quota on your existing plan. Considering the data plans I mentioned here are under a no-contract basis, personally I would rather have a cellular radio equipped tablet. Having that instant data anywhere really increases the enjoyment in using the device.

TIPS:

  • If you look at T-Mobile’s website for the mobile broadband SIM, T-Mobile sells them for $7. That’s a rip-off. Meanwhile, they are selling the SIM for the monthly 4G phone plans for 99 cents a piece. Well, guess what, you can activate that 99 cent SIM for a broadband plan, so stock up and don’t be tricked into paying $7. 😉
  • If you already activated a SIM (let’s say AT&T) on an iPad, you can use the same plan on the Nexus 7 3G, but you won’t be able to access your account via the Nexus 7’s browser nor AT&T’s website. They will say you have to do it on the iPad itself. There is a workaround, via this old AT&T’s website (note the copyright year, 2010!). You can log-in to your account and you can access it normally.

That’s all for broadband data plans. More tips and tricks in the future.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , ,