Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. 😉

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ





Free iPod through your bank

15 11 2008

Free iPod deal. Sometime last week, I received a letter from my bank Wells Fargo in the mail. Seemed like the regular “SIGN UP FOR A FREE CAMERA” thing they sometimes send out. Only this time, it said a free Apple iPod Shuffle. Nothing extraordinary but could be worth picking up since it’s FREE. Didn’t think much about it until a buddy at work had one just like that, only his was through Bank of America. He found the iPod in the middle row on the scratch card.

Found the iPod in the middle row on my scratch-off card also. You get 30 days to use the service (AutoVantage – similar to AAA Roadside Service) for free and you want to cancel before then, unless you’re up for shelling out $16/mo thereafter. The Shuffle will be mailed out 3-5 weeks after processing the application. Oh and remember to include the scratch-off card and the sheet holding your signature in the prepaid envelope before mailing em out. Keeping my fingers crossed.

EDIT (12/26/2008): This is so not worth the hassle. You send in a request to sign-up along with a free iPod card. Then you wait for 2 weeks and they mail you a membership confirmation packet complete with your ID card and some coupons and booklets. Then you have to mail out another free iPod card to confirm included in the packet you received from them. This is estimated to take 6-8 weeks to process and the whole time, you are expected to be a member of AutoVantage. Also be advised that the iPods are subject to availability. To top it off, it’s just a cheapo iPod Shuffle 1GB.





1 month and lovin the MacBook until now…

15 10 2008

As anticipated, on October 14th, Apple renewed their tri-pronged attack in the notebook market – a more powerful MacBook Air, a completely redesigned MacBook (the bread and butter of Apple computers), and the gigantor sized multimedia heavy MacBook Pro. By the way, did you know that new Apple products are always announced on Tuesdays? Did they pick the 2nd day of the work week simply because they got too lazy to prepare over the weekend and instead laid to waste a perfectly good “Moon-Day” for prep work? Either ways, one thing is for certain, the new MacBook kicks ass. Or do they?

Physically there are differences but the dimensions are very similar to my MacBook. 1.08 x 12.78 x 8.92 inches as opposed to the new sizes – 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94 inches. Even the keyboard is identical aside from black color (and backlit feature for the $1,599 model). 4 main physical differences between the new MacBook and mine are:

  1. Firewire Port: It’s GONE! Mac fanboys are screaming “BLASPHEMY!” after Apple’s beloved IEEE 1394 port is now MIA from the MB line. But fear not MacNerds (or aspiring MacNerds) because the now elusive 1394 port exists on the more expensive MBP (MacBook Pro) if you can’t live without it. If you have truely set yourself in a loving monogamous relationship with Apple wares, you’ll find he money to upgrade to the MBP.
  2. Screen: Black bezel around the screen with gloss glass finish to the entire lid. I hate gloss finish on screens but it appears to be implemented well on the new ‘Books.
  3. Keyboard: It’s the same only black in color and if you want the keyboard lighting feature, it’s available on the $1,599 model.
  4. Material: The neat aluminum look to fit in with the rest of Apple’s computer line. I have to say however that this makes the entire Apple product line seem very … boring in a weird way. Previously the black and white MacBook models injected some life into their notebooks.

Additionally, you could add that the battery life bar is on the left-side of the notebook instead of the bottom but that’s nitpicking.

So in essence, the new MacBook IS a “mini” MacBook Pro. It packs a powerful punch with a dedicated GPU from NVIDIA’s 9400M line (the graphics card uses shared DDR3 RAM unlike the DDR2 stuff on my “white” MacBook) and it looks just like the new MBP, only better portability. I like it but the price hike and the lack of customization can be a factor – you only have 2 choices:

  1. $1,299 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.0GHz and 160GB HDD
  2. $1,599 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.4GHz and 250GB HDD w/ backlit keyboard

On the plus side, the weight has been reduced by 1 pound and both options use more efficient LED lighting for the screens. Also, the touchpad/trackpad no longer has the button at the end and supports 4-finger multi-touch (which is customizable) like the MBA (MacBook Air) and the MBP. It is made of glass and should be flashy enough to cause some to upgrade.

Finally, here’s a picture of my (now previous generation) MacBook. In my opinion, it can hold it’s own and has a very cleancut image without appearing to do a “me-too” look like the rest of the Apple line.

… I also thought I should share a picture of the new iPod Touch (2nd generation) placed alongside my workhorse communications device, Nokia E61. The one to the left is a protector screen sticker thing pasted on top of the iPod in it’s plastic glass case. Boy have I jumped over to the dark side.

If you’re pissed off about not getting Firewire support for the MacBooks, look at the MacBook Pro line. The 15″ is currently on sale and the 17-18″ should be joining soon next month.

My verdict: Wait until the new Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s out (sometime early next year sayz the rumors), then purchase the MacBook without having to pay $$$ for the upgrade. This should also allow ample time for Apple to smooth out the kinks on the new system and hopefully lower prices or even better hardware.





Macbook + Free iPod Touch v New Macbook (the real deal)

28 08 2008

Alright. This is the actual post about the Macbook. So Apple is having their annual “Back to School” special which ties anyone with a school email address to purchase Macbooks at a discount and receive a free iPod. The free iPod deal also encompasses the flashy iPod Touch (only the $299 8GB version) and is done through a worry free efficient rebate system from Apple.

This is also about the time for me to upgrade my laptop from an ungainly old P4 2.7GHz Windows system to a Core 2 Duo MacBook running the latest Mac OS X Leopard which would make sense because I need a new MP3 player, namely the fancy iPod Touch. After going to the Mac store with my old college email address (which still works 🙂 ) and configuring a nice setup for $1700, I realized something.

TO MAC OR NOT TO MAC!

The deal has it’s cons. It’s only valid till September 15th and there’s rumors that there’s going to be a completely redesigned MacBook this time around. There are other stories circulating the interwebs about an all-aluminum metal enclosure instead of the cheap white plastic (or black) highly popular MacBook. It’s also going to feature a multi-touch touchpad similar to the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. That and the iPod Touch will be redesigned and that all these changes are to be set in SEPTEMBER. It’s the 28th today and in a month, my new MacBook and iTouch will look outdated.

The downside to waiting for a new MacBook (if it comes true) is that I’m going to miss out on a free iPod deal and what if Apple jacks up the price? That and the wireless components on a metal encasing will suffer in terms of performance just like the MacBook Pro. After consulting with some Mac-philes today, I’ve decided to embrace the old saying “patience is virtue” and keeping my fingers crossed.

PS: The weirdest thing is the day I started looking for a MacBook and noticed the free iPod deal, it was posted on the popular consumer-advocacy website Consumerist.com.





To buy an iPod or not to…

21 09 2007

People fork over thousands of bucks for the latest gadgets just for bragging rights. These gadgets whatever they may be … mp3 players, cellphones, television sets, LCD monitors, cameras, etc usually are priced for their functionality as well as their star appeal. But is being an early adopter of new products really worth it?

Here’s a quick look into some of the most popular stuff you have in the market.

Xbox 360 … lack of inventory. eBay and Craigslist scalping. The red-ring of death and a whole lot of quality control problems with all of the original stock. Then once the supply was figured out, huge price drops. Product quality issues continues to plague the 360 which is so unfortunate for Microsoft because they have a lot of good games for the system.

PS3 … fans first had to deal with a lack of games and expensive high def tv purchases over the already expensive price tag of $599. HDTVs weren’t cheap back then … esp not the 1080p HD sets. No rumble on the Sixaxis game-pads. In under 9 months since it’s release, a $100 price drop was announced. Although the PS3’s original price was a very good bargain for what it was, a $100 drop within a year is a painful blow to the fans who originally bought them.

Apple iPhone … highly popular like the 360 but problems came out of hiding soon. First users had to sign-on for TWO YEARS with the highly unpopular AT&T service provider who were fresh on a rebound to take the attention away from it’s secret government dealings. Then 300 pages of billing from Cingular/AT&T. Expensive bills for simply having the phone turned on overseas because of the calendar sync feature. Then an unexpected $200 price hammer was dealt within 3 months of it’s release to the masses. Now screen quality issues are cropping up.

… and now to Apple’s iPod line-up.

The 6th Generation iPod Classic – turned into an expensive aluminum block upon attempting to sync with the iTunes application on a PC. The issue has reportedly been fixed after a firm update hurried onto screaming fans and quite a few refunds.

The 3rd Generation iPod Nano – had screen orientation issues. The screens on the new Nanos were slightly tilted to the left (usually) and even after many replacements. Then there are more iPod Nano owners claiming the screens get scratched instantly upon removing the stock plastic protective film. Any surprise that Gizmodo reported stating that the Nano was the cheapest to make and also had the largest margin of profit per unit? These issues are still ongoing and Apple is claiming to be looking into the matter.

The brand new iPod Touch – screen quality issues where the blacks were showing up as negatives or appearing washed-out. I thought it was a screen contrast issue or the regular LCD screen viewing angle limitation but apparently not. Then lack of bluetooth and unable to add events/meetings on the calendar directly from the device. A poor 4 hours of video playback despite lacking a power-hungry hard disk drive. There are also certain audio output issues with the first batch of Touches.

So what’s it gonna be? What should you do? It all depends on what kind of person you are …

[Rich] [Attention-Seeking] [Lack financial restraint / shopaholic] [Rich Geek]
– BUY IT. USE IT. SELL IT AFTER YOU FIND A REPLACEMENT.

[The Average Person]
– Hold out for a minimum of 6-10 months until the majority of the kinks in the system are taken care of. Your reward is an older product but better in every way including a lowered price-tag.

[People living below the poverty line]
– Don’t waste money on useless gadgets. Your priority lies with ensuring you have money for good investments like education, health, or the family.





The Apple iPhone price drop and new iPods – GIANT POST

10 09 2007

The Apple iPhone 8GB prices were slashed by $200 on September 5th after the announcement of 3 new Apple DAPs (digital audio players) – the newly redesigned iPod Nano, the metallic iPod Classic, and a new device – the iPod Touch.

At first glance, the iPod Touch looks just like the iPhone. In reality, it’s pretty much an iPhone without a “phone” feature. It’s slightly smaller but packs the same bright 3.5″ widescreen and all applications and other 3rd party apps that can be used on the iPhone are also compatible with the iTouch iPod Touch. So in essence, you have a device that looks and works like an iPhone, is smaller, and does not bother you with the huge iPhone phone bills from AT&T/Cingular. Also, you’re not obliged to enter into any form of contract. A perfect little device which overshadowed the iPhone and prompted Jobs to drop it (iPhone price tag) like it’s hot or while it’s still warm.

iPhone 4GB $499 – discontinued on September 5, 2007

iPhone 8GB $599 – price drop to $399 on September 5, 2007

People who purchased an iPhone (4GB/8GB) 14 days prior to September 5th from Apple/AT&T stores were eligible for a $200 rebate.

On September 6th, Steve Jobs announced that early iPhone adopters were eligible for $100 in in-store credit at Apple stores nationwide.

Customers who used American Express (AmEx) or VISA are eligible for $100 through their card company customer support team. AmEx in particular has worked hard on this according to numerous websites and stuff you see on the news.

All 3 devices came in 2 different capacity trims but only the “Classic” offered a hard disk drive instead of an SSD (Solid State Drive). It’s strange to note that the Touch only came with a max of 16GB storage space because it had the biggest screen and 16GB is next to nothing if you’re planning on storing music + videos.

– 3rd gen Nano ($150 4GB / $200 8GB)
– 1st gen Touch ($300 8GB / $400 16GB)
– 6th gen Classic ($250 80GB / $350 160GB)

Which brings us down to the question – so why exactly did Apple use an SSD in place of a HDD? Probably has something to do with the dwindling battery life in newer gadgets and the rather meager hold out of 5 hours on video playback mode on the Touch. As the processing power and capabilities of gadgets these days expand exponentially, the portable power-up units. Too bad flash-based hard drives aren’t quite as useful as disk-based hard drives in terms of storage. Otherwise, they kick ass in low-power consumption and over-all life expectancy.

If we compare all 3 devices, the Classic wins it with it’s 40 hour music play back battery life, 160GB HDD storage capacity, the cool aluminum encasing, and the ability to use the “Cover-Flow” GUI (graphical user interface) found on the iPhone. Although it does look sorta boring in pictures.

Enter personal bias…

The iPod Touch is a cool device with it’s WiFi and iPhone like features, but it’s small storage size and the hefty $400 price-tag is a major problem. It also seems that Apple has disabled Bluetooth and adding events on the Calendar. How lame of Apple. The Classic looks boring.

So my personal pick would be the 3rd generation iPod Nano. It’s one neat little iPod that can fit in the pocket, play videos/games on a high performance bright 2″ screen (same res as iPod Classic), does the Cover-Flow thing that the iPhone, Touch, and 6th gen Classic can do, 8 gigs for music/videos (on tiny screen), and is well priced.





iPod Nano spyshots or fake?

22 08 2007

9to5.com had speculated a few times in the past on the design of the upcoming iPod Nano. They even had a poorly done mock-up. Regardless, an article they posted today had a picture of the alleged iPod Nanos in the classic colorful flower pattern. But if you look at the picture, you see that it was photographed off of a picture on Photoshop on a computer monitor. Then later today, Apple made a bunch of the bigger blog sites, including 9to5, take down the pic. The plot thickens.

So what the fuck is going on here? Is the picture (above) which Apple made 9to5 take down, fake? What do you say?

There’re only 5 things certain:
1. Apple’s stopped supplying iPod Nanos to retailers signaling the end is nigh.
2. The new Nano will feature a landscape format (not widescreen) screen for viewing videos as well as playing MP3s.
3. It should be out at BestBuys and Targets sometime this year. Whether it’s coming out next month (September) or the on October or even later is speculative.
4. Whatever it may look like, there’s gotta be a reason why Apple had many websites remove the above picture. Was it too close to the real product? If yes, EWWWW!
5. I still don’t need an iPod.

You say there’s fire, I don’t see any smoke but I definitely can smell something burning nearby.