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September 12th Apple Keynote Prediction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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iPhone 4S Keynote Impression

Well, the iPhone 4S Keynote is available now, for download and for streaming. Here goes my impression:

First, we have Tim Cook, looked and sounded subdued for whatever reason, talking about the new Apple stores in Hong Kong and China. For some reason, he kept talking about the glass staircase, saying how only Apple could do that. Hmmm, maybe Apple patented glass staircases now? πŸ˜› The Hong Kong stores look great though.

Then he talked about Lion. Errr, I thought this was iPhone keynote? 6 million downloads of Lion. Tim Cook is comparing Lion to Windows 7, and how it took longer for Windows 7 to reach 10%. Well, 10% of Windows users is a heck lot more than 10% of Mac users. :roll eyes: Just the typical statistic spin of Apple. Mac outgrows PC… well duh. It’s easy to grow from 1% than 99%. πŸ˜›

Next he talked about music, iTunes, revolutionize, blah blah. Guess what Tim Cook, I still cannot buy many J-Pop and Eurobeat tracks from iTunes US as they are only available in iTunes Japan. So much for “revolution.”

iPod sales. With the death of the Zune player, it’s a clear win for Apple. As such, being the dominant player, things are slowing down. It’s a given ever since Apple jumped the shark and added a camera to the nano. The classic has not been updated, again. And, well, no updates on the iPod lineup at all. We’ll talk about this later.

iPhone 4 (finally, he’s talking about iPhone), best selling smartphone, “ever.” Well, considering it was selling out in countries like Singapore at the beginning of the year, yeah, it’s selling a lot. Mobile phone satisfaction…. yeah yeah, this BS talk is getting old.

iPad sale. You know, for a keynote that secifically said “Let’s Talk iPhone,” Tim Cook sure did talk a lot about everything else. Everybody loves iPad, sure, blah blah. Watch for the Kindle Fire. Tim Cook sounded like a really old person. Steve Jobs had so much more energy, even at the later days where he’s so skinny.

Next, Scott Forstall. Good, as he sounded more energetic than the tired Tim Cook. Blah blah apps blah blah app store blah blah number one blah blah billion.

New app, Cards. You can create and mail cards directly from the iPhone. Yeah… when the last time you send a card to somebody? There’s something called email and Facebook. Push notification when the card is sent. Sure, knowing how “reliable” the USPS, this is not anything you can rely on. $2.99. Meh.

iOS5. Urgh, just a recap from WWDC. 200 new features, notifications, iMessage, Reminders, Twitter integration (yup, no Facebook here), Newsstand, Camera, Photos, Game Center, Safari, Mail, PC free (it’s weird the he didn’t talk more on this other than what we already know from WWDC). October 12th.

Eddy, iCloud. Again, more rehashes from WWDC. *yawn Something new though, Find My Friends. Yeah, an official stalking app. I’m guessing a more controlled version of Google Latitude. 5GB free storage for documents (music and photos are not counted against the 5GB). iTunes Match, $25 a year, the service to legalize your downloaded music. Not something I’m interested as most of my music are not available in iTunes anyway. Same ship date as iOS5.

By the way, Apple is very good in making these videos of their own products to show the features and whatnot. I mean they have an iPhone downloading music automatically while a dad is taking care of his baby in the background. Talk about subconscious marketing.

Phil has been downgraded to talk about nothing new on iPods. LOL. Big icons on the nano and more skins for the watch feature. Whoop dee doo. Previous nano users should be able to get all these new features via an update as nothing has changed hardware wise. Phil said how people are using the nano as wristwatches by themselves. No Phil, Steve Jobs actually hinted at it when he said one of the board member was going to clip it to his arm band as a watch. It has been planned all along by Apple. Slight price drop, 8GB for $129 and 16GB for $149.

iPod Touch, nothing new. Only a white version and price drop on the 8GB version to $200. Nothing else changed, not even the prices of the 32GB/64GB Touch. Sad. What’s the point of trying to push the Touch as a gaming device if you don’t even put the A5 in it? This is another sign how innovation slows down to a halt as Apple has virtually no competition in this market.

Well, Phil finally talked about the new iPhone 4S. Sound similar? Yes, Phil also did the keynote for iPhone 3GS. iPhone 4S has A5 chip (dual core), like the iPad 2. Who knows if it’s clocked as fast as the iPad 2 though.

Mid intermission, Epic Games was showing Infinity Blade 2. Ooooh, Koi in the pond. Phil doesn’t look too amazed though.

Okay, back to iPhone 4S. 8 hours 3G talk time. “Fantastic battery life.” Sounds good, right? But what Phil didn’t mention is the standby time is a lot less than the iPhone 4, down to 200 hours from 300 hours. New switching antenna. LOL. Now you don’t have to worry if you hold your phone wrong. HSDPA+, 14.4Mbps down, fake 4G. World phone, meaning there’s only 1 version of iPhone 4S, having both GSM and CDMA radio. Question is, will it be unlocked? Nobody knows.

New camera. 8MP sensor, backside illuminated CMOS (sounds like the one Sony was talking about), f/2.4, software features like face detection (something that is commonly available in point-n-shoot digicams), faster than Droid Bionic (getting a cup of coffee?) and SGS2 (well, better be). One of the sample photos showed no barrel distortion, something that is a problem in most compact digicams.

1080p video recording. Meh, I hope it can be scaled back down to 720p. Also I find it funny that Apple never supported their own iFrame format in their own hardware. The big thing is video image stabilization. If this works, it will be a God send. The camera features themselves imo is worth getting the iPhone 4S.

Airplay. Meh, I don’t have the Apple TV.

“Most amazing iPhone yet.”

Oh, Phil forgot something. Yup, as rumored, Siri personal assistant, built-in to the iPhone 4S. The idea is mind blowing. Yeah, it’s Star Trek’s computer that you talk to. Scott Forstall doing the demo. The problem with voice recognition is recognizing the words for a non-perfect-English-speaker. Hopefully this will work, because currently the voice recognition of iOS4 is mediocre at best (I cannot have it do anything). Siri + wikipedia + wolfram alpha = ultimate exam machine. God, I wish we had this technology when I was in school. πŸ˜€ This is going to freak out a lot of old school teachers that think you have to memorize everything on earth. Now in beta. Can’t wait for the technology to enable automatic real-time translation, just like Start Trek’s Universal Translator.

More videos. Where’s Johnny Ive?

Black and white, 64GB option. Apple also keeps the 3GS and iPhone 4 (downgraded to 8GB). Subsidized price for 8GB 3GS is $0, or $375 unlocked. Yeah, it’s the first time Apple made an unlocked 3GS available in the US. It took them like what, 2 years? iPhone 4 8GB subsidized price is $99, $549 unlocked. Subsidized price for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB 4S are $199, $299, and $399 respectively. No info on unlocked price yet, but looks like it’s going to be $649 for the 16GB version (and adding $100 for the next size up). New carriers mentioned, Sprint for US and KDDI for Japan. My biggest question is, since the 4S is a world phone and (maybe) unlocked, does it mean users can jump from AT&T to Verizon to Sprint and back willy nilly? I hope so, but US carriers are notorious for their anti-consumer and anti-competitive business practices of provider locking. Hopefully Apple can lead the way to a world without provider-locked phones in the US.

October 14th, shipping to 7 countries. October 28th, pretty much everywhere else. Compare this to Android OEMs that are dragging their feet in releasing their phones in the US. Yeah, I’m looking at you Sony Ericsson, Samsung, taking 6 months after releasing their phones in Europe/Asia to the US.

Keynote ended with an old and tired sounding Tim Cook. I hope he’s just nervous. He needs to be more upbeat and energetic like Scott Forstall.

Well, there you go. And yes, I’m going to get one as to me the camera and A5 alone are huge improvements. Besides, I’m a sucker for new gadgets anyway. Gotta cath-em-all!

PS: I’m typing this entirely on my iPad (with a bluetooth keyboard of course, the touch keyboard on the iPad sux). Just trying to live in a post-PC world. πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Apple event coming up, iPhone 5

Well, it’s just hours from now. Regular live blogs: gdgt, Engadget, and thisismynext.

My guess:
-iPhone 4S: A5 chip, 1GB RAM, up to 64GB config, HSPA+, new voice recognition features. Same design as iPhone 4.
-iPhone 4 8GB taking over the 3GS spot for the “lower end.”
-iOS5 and iCloud tie-in will be the bigger focus.

I have a feeling that’s about it. The evidence for the iPhone 4S is just too many to ignore. I was hoping Apple would use a continual numerical system instead (iPhone 5 instead of 4S). It was perfect with the tie-in with iOS5 and A5 chip, but I guess not. There are rumors that Sprint is getting an exclusive iPhone “5,” but I doubt it. Why would Apple want to make a Wimax iPhone just for 1 carrier, while the future is LTE? Besides, world market is way larger than Sprint’s, so it’s in the best interest of Apple to make a GSM/HSDPA iPhone 5, if it was to exist. There’s also a rumor about Apple keeping the 3GS. I don’t know. Apple is known to iterate and ditch the old stuff quickly. Why would they stick with a 2+ year-old hardware with so many new features they want to bring with iOS5?

Since the invite specifically mentions iPhone, I don’t think we will see any iPod related announcement… unless Apple makes the iPod Touch into the “cheap iPhone.” Apple is pretty much un-contested in the portable music market. Even Microsoft stopped production of the Zune. Apple could simply let things the way they are, maybe just cut some prices for the Touch. It’s sad though, as I feel there wouldn’t be anymore exciting stuff in this segment as the market is overtaken by smartphones.

Well, it’s just hours before we find out the real deal. Get you wallet ready. πŸ˜€

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Apple 2010 September Music Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Apple iPod rumor

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

Now let’s get to the focus of music.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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WWDC 2010 Impression

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

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

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

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

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

5. iPhone 4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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Video Comparisons Part 1

If you read my blog in the past, I have a standard def camcorder, the Samsung SC-MX20. I said I like it. Well, no more. It sux! I tried using it during an event where things can get fairly dark, and it failed big time. It just sux, no way around it. Not only that, the recorded video has incorrect aspect ratio and interlaced, adding processing time. Super annoying! Thus, my search for another camcorder, preferably an HD one.

Lurking around, I came by a Sanyo VPC-FH1A. Now, Sanyo is not the first brand I would think of for camcorders. It would be Canon, Sony, or Panasonic. However, camcorders from the later manufactures are expensive. In the meantime, the VPC-FH1A is 1080p capable with a fairly good-sized sensor (even larger than more expensive Sony/Canon models), and I found it for only $330. A lot, if not most, consumer HD camcorder only records 1080i. Yeah, interlaced video, which means your video when viewed on your computer will have lines and jaggies, and it takes a considerable amount of time to de-interlace it. And no, I found out most models, even expensive ones, can only record in 1080i. No option to do 720p. On the other hand, pocket camcorders from Flip/Kodak can record in 720p, but obviously those have small sensors and no optical zoom. The Sanyo VPC-FH1A is a rare breed. It is a standard handheld camcorder form factor, and can record in various resolutions, including 1080p and 720p. It even supports iFrame, an off-standard resolution set by Apple, 960×540 progressive. Personally, I don’t really care for 1080p, all I want is progressive recording, so the iFrame and 720p format suit me perfectly.

Now, you may say what’s the point of iFrame if you have 720p. It’s only a bit higher than standard DVD 480p resolution. Well, try editing a 720p video. I have an iMac with Core 2 Duo processor, and iMovie 09 still choked on scrubbing the 720p movies. In comparison, iFrame videos scrubs very smoothly. Another point is bitrate. The FH1A records 720p video with 9Mbps bitrate, while iFrame has a whooping 24Mbps bitrate! That means less potential of artifacts due to over compression/not enough bitrate. To me, iFrame is an advantage and a great feature.

HD camcorder aside, I also realize I have a lot of gadgets that can actually record video. From a 5G iPod nano, iPhone 3GS, various digicams, and to the Sanyo FH1A. This made me want to do a comparison of videos recorded with those devices, and I did. πŸ™‚
The devices and the video resolutions they record in are:
-iPod nano 5G (640×480, progressive)
-iPhone 3GS (640×480, progressive)
-Panasonic DMC-TZ4 digicam (848×480, progressive)
-Casio EX-FC100 digicam (720p)
-Canon S90 digicam (640×480, progressive)
-Samsung SC-MX20 camcorder (480i)
-Sanyo VPC-FH1A camcorder (1: iFrame 960×540, 2: 720p)
*Note: to enjoy the videos fully, watch them on Youtube in 720p.

Part 1:

Part 1 is focusing on the details on the building during daylight.
-iPod nano 5G: It does okay for a tiny camera in an iPod nano. However, obviously it’s too tiny to capture much light. The video is pretty dark with oversaturated colors.
-iPhone 3GS: The 3GS actually did very well. It seems to adjust the contrast better on dark areas unlike the 5G nano. The resulting video is a lot brighter and captures more details. It is very nice for a phone. In fact, I like the 3GS video better than the one from the Samsung MX20.
-Panasonic TZ4: The main advantage of the TZ4 is that it records the video in widescreen resolution. This gives you the nice impression of more details. The video itself is very sharp, but actually has quite a lot of artifacts, probably due to the limited bandwidth the camera is recording. The artifacts are more pronounced during movements.
-Casio FC100: Oh, welcome to the HD world, or at least 720p. The increased resolution is prominent, allowing you to observe more fine details of the buildings. Good sharp video, but artifacts are aplenty, probably due to over compression and/or lack of bandwidth.
-Canon S90: Ouch, return to the standard def world. The S90 is a great picture taking camera, but video recording is only at VGA resolution. However, you can notice that its sensor can capture more light. The dark areas pretty much lighted up on the S90. Also notice the much wider angle lens compared to any of the other devices. You could see the top of the building with the S90!
-Samsung MX20: Now do you notice how sucky this camcorder is? Not only I have to de-interlace and correct the aspect ratio before hand, but you see that the colors are just bad and inaccurate. Video is fairly dark and doesn’t have much fine details. Oh well, it is cheap, but obviously you can get better video with a digicam.
-Sanyo FH1A iFrame: Very nice and smooth looking video, although it feels a bit soft.
-Sanyo FH1A 720p: Wow! After looking at the 720p video, I feel I cannot go back to anything lower. The details captured is just amazing. I mean I can see lines on the building’s walls that I don’t see on the previous videos. Just amazing!

Well, this is the first part. I’ll continue my commentary more later with the rest of the videos. You can watch all the videos on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/pata2009
Oh, yeah, as much as I hate Google/Youtube, it gives me the best feature for 720p video streaming.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2010 in camcorder, impression, review, video

 

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iPod K-Touch


LOL. Yeah, I jailbroke my iPod Touch just to have the awesome K-Touch app.

Now, speaking of jailbreaking, I was on the camp that is super paranoid about jailbreaking, simply because it seems to be too much of a hassle. Well, I found out a super easy way to do it. Just remember to sync/backup your iPod Touch first with iTunes before doing this, just in case. Note that my iPod Touch is the older 2nd gen Touch with firmware 3.1.3, not the latest “2nd gen” 8GB Touch that is beind sold with the 3rd gen iPod Touch. Also, I’m on OS X. There’s an application called spirit. I simply downloaded it, unzip the app, ran it, and the app is simply there waiting for me to connect my iPod Touch. Once I connected my iPod Touch to my Mac, the Jailbreak button was immediately enabled. How to jailbreak? Just press the button. LOL. Couldn’t be easier. No need to do restore and/or other hacking/command line stuff. After that, the iPod Touch will reboot, and you just wait. After it finished rebooting, Cydia appears, and download away. πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2010 in apple, ipod touch, kamen rider

 

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iPod nano 5G Video Test 2

Another test run using the iPod nano 5G. I just love the cyborg special effect. I tried recording video without any special effect, and it’s not that great. Sure, it’s okay, but any digital cameras capable of recording 480p video will do better. Plus it’s not that easy holding the nano steadily. So using the special effects is an easy way to mask the lack of quality.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2010 in apple, ipod, video

 

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