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All posts tagged "apple"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Best Stand Alone Keyboards

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:20 PM

"Picking the best keyboard for your needs is tough-everyone will have different opinions once they get their fingers on the keys, but there are definitely a few models that stand out above the rest, and plenty that are probably better than the ones that came with your computer."

Recently, LifeHacker asked its readers to vote on their favorite keyboards. Lifehacker then pulled out the top five keyboards from the list of 600 nominations. The resulting list is comprised of a wide variety of styles. From the thin and light Apple wireless keyboard to the mechanical DAS keyboard. The top five favorites are listed as: Apple wireless keyboard, Microsoft 4000 series, Logitech G series, DAS keyboard and Logitech K series.

Hit the read link to see the readers' reasoning behind their nominations.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Apple TV 3 (2012) Reviewed: Worth the Upgrade?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 10:07 AM

"The iPad (3) took front row during the recent launch extravaganza, however Apple also refreshed their Apple TV with a new model sporting a single core A5 SoC and some other noteworthy tweaks. We've spent some time with the new model since its launch, and have found a few interesting new things lurking inside. In addition to decoding 1080p iTunes content as well as YouTube and Netflix streams, the new Apple TV also includes a second WiFi antenna with better gain, which translates to improved reception and network throughput."

It's amusing - and a little odd - that in 2012 a "new" product feature is supporting 1080p video, but here we are. Up until recently, unless I'm mistaken, all iTunes video content topped out at 720p. Now that iTunes supports 1080p downloads, it makes sense that Apple would wait to release this product. I wonder of Apple TV is still a "hobby" product for Apple? This review has a cool teardown of the product, and in typical Anandtech fashion, even their "short" reviews are incredibly detailed.

The most interesting part of this review for me wasn't about the Apple TV: the reviewer did some detailed examination of the 1080p and 720p video files from iTunes. By switching to a different encoding parameters, Apple went from 720p to 1080p, but only increased the file size by 25% because they only went up by 1mbps in terms of bit rate to 5mbps. Does 5mbps sound low for 1080p content? Yeah, exactly. The movies I've watched via my iPad at 1080p look good, but not Blu-ray good. There's always a balance between quality and file size, and I'm sure Apple tested this more than a bit, but the bit rate geek in me would love to see higher quality so when I buy a movie or TV show I don't feel like I'm losing out vs. Blu-ray...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lifehacker's Guide to Choosing Cameras

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

"Choosing a digital camera used to be a simple process that was heavily dictated by the amount of money in your pocket. Now the same money can buy you different benefits and compromises, making the decision much more complex. Here's a look at your camera-buying options, the pros and cons of each, and some specific suggestions to help you pick the perfect camera for your needs."

Lifehacker has a long article on how to choose a camera (and it even includes a guide on cameras in phones), but I recommended not going through the recommended picks just because they are there. Seriously, a Sony NEX-3?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Should the Unemployed Buy New Macs to Find Jobs? The Onion Panel Weighs In

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Apple Talk" @ 07:00 AM,20083/

No matter where you fall on the Apple/Windows side of the fence, you have to admit this is utterly hilarious - I love the way it plays to the fanboy stereotypes. ;-)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Microsoft Can't Build a Tablet and Apple Can't Build a Server

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 11:00 PM

"Last week I was going over a rather impressive list of products that Microsoft (News - Alert) brought to market last decade that failed and while Apple's (News - Alert) list is shorter the failure of its Xserve server product after a decade of trying is just as telling. In looking at the two companies; both have largely been unable, at least for the last 10 years, to do well in areas dominated by the other."

Interesting thoughts on why companies with expertise in specific market segments are having trouble gaining a foothold in other market segments. Not only Microsoft and Apple, but companies like IBM and Cisco are having trouble in the consumer space, while Sony has failed at getting their business products accepted. Companies are committing resources, but not necessarily the right resources. Microsoft designing a product (Zune) that "looked like a square turd" is a good example of perhaps the right product being designed by the wrong people. And Apple's XServe is another example of a failed attempt. So, how can companies be successful in new market segments? First rule: Know your target market. Second rule: Get the right people for the job. Don't just assign someone based on seniority or past glory in other market segments. Third rule: Don't underestimate the amount of work and capital that it will take to successfully bring a product to market. Last rule: Understand your goal. If you don't understand what it is, or how to get there, you lose.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Evertyhing You Wanted to Know About Thunderbolt

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

Simply put, Thunderbolt's a familiar-looking port, a brand-new chip, and a cord, which allows devices to pipe two data streams simultaneously -- in both directions -- over a single cable at up to 10 gigabits per second to start, primarily using PCI Express x4 for data and DisplayPort for video.

The announcement of Thunderbolt instantly reminded me about the old Firewire vs. USB battle. If you have read the comments or even the press release about Thunderbolt, you have probably seen how people are comparing Thunderbolt to Firewire, and the battle is now between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. There are certainly a lot of parallels but I do not know if there is a clear winner, or even if there will be one that dominates the other.

Thunderbolt definitely has more impressive specifications but will that be enough? USB has a far larger install base and is likely to remain much cheaper to implement for various peripherals. Does my mouse really need a 10Gbps lane? Will a Thunderbolt based keyboard cost more than a USB one? I personally suspect that the two will live together, with USB remaining the dominant connection type, with Thunderbolt serving the more demanding uses like external video cards, displays and hard drives. What do you think? Is Thunderbolt the future? Or do we all live in a USB world?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Intel's Lightpeak Technology is now Dubbed Thunderbolt

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 02:10 PM

"Intel Corporation today announced the availability of ThunderboltTM technology, a new high-speed PC connection technology that brings together high-speed data transfer and high-definition (HD) display on to a single cable. Running at 10Gbps, Thunderbolt technology can transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds. This Intel-developed technology is coming to market through a technical collaboration with Apple, and is available first on Apple's new line of MacBook Pro laptop computers."

One of the key technologies revealed today in Apple's line of refreshed Macbook Pros is Thunderbolt. I knew it was based on Lightpeak, but when I saw Apple calling it Thunderbolt I was concerned it was going to be an Apple-only term, and we were about to enter into an era where every laptop OEM would have their own term for the technology: "No, no, this isn't Thunderbolt, it's ULTRABOLT!" Turns out that's not the case: Thunderbolt is the new name for Lightpeak, and it will be used by all the OEMs. That's good news. What do you think about the name? It's an unusual name for a technology when compared to the likes of USB 3.0 and SATA; it's more in line with Firewire. Regardless, Thunderbolt is here to stay and offers some compelling features (more on that later).

Friday, December 31, 2010

What The Geeky Got for Gifts

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 05:30 PM

"If you got an iPad as a gift during the holidays, you certainly weren't alone. In a recent poll of holiday gift recipients, iPads accounted for a full 22.7% of all gadget or hardware gifts, making iPads the single largest category in our gift poll, outstripping the nearest runner-up by nearly 14% of votes. That runner-up was Amazon's Kindle - not surprising considering that the Kindle is the best-selling product in Amazon's history."

It's a relatively small sampling size - less than 2400 votes, and only from people who read Mashable - but among the geek-set, there are a couple of stand-out points: the iPad was the #1 gift, more people got Macs (60%) than Windows machines (40%), Android phones let the way in the smartphone category with a hefty 50.3% figure (iPhones were 30%), but Windows Phone 7 devices at 10.3% just eeked out Blackberry devices (9.4%). Not bad for a brand new platform that most people still haven't heard about! Lastly, the Xbox/Kinect one-two punch clobbered the PS3 with a 54.3% figure versus only 11.9% for the PS3. The Kinect really is driving the Xbox 360 to new heights of popularity!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is Microsoft a Dying Consumer Brand?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 03:30 PM

"Consumers have turned their backs on Microsoft. A company that once symbolized the future is now living in the past. Microsoft has been late to the game in crucial modern technologies like mobile, search, media, gaming and tablets. It has even fallen behind in Web browsing, a market it once ruled with an iron fist."

This is your typical link-bait article in some ways, and I'm complying by linking to it, but I felt it was worth discussing. Windows 7 is selling like gangbusters, and it's the best OS Microsoft has ever released, so it's hard to blindly say that somehow Microsoft is losing in the consumer space...but I think the author has a point that Microsoft has no answer to the next wave of consumer computing: instant-on appliance-like devices. I don't own an iPad, but I understand what that device represents and why it resonates so powerfully with an increasing number of people. Read more...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Social Networking Services Know Who You Are

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"In order to use any facebook application, the user must agree to the terms of use, which include accrss to their personal information. Decide not to download the application? Too bad. If your friend decides to use an application, that platform can access your personal information."

Security, privacy and convenience all rarely work together. You usually have to compromise on at least one thing in order to have the others. This is especially true with social networking sites such as Facebook. In some ways, it really makes me wonder why people are complaining about privacy on Facebook and its brethren. The whole purpose of sites like Facebook is to share information, not hide it. You put things up on Facebook so that your friends, family, and maybe even the whole world knows what you have been doing. My general policy follows a quote supposedly from Benjamin Franklin, "Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." If there is something you do not want anyone to know, do not post it, do not record it. Keep it tucked away in that little box you have under your bed. Assume that anything you send on the Internet can be copied, altered and redistributed at any time. Assume that anything you do on the Internet is recorded in one fashion or another. When it comes to technology, there is very little in the way of privacy anymore.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Will You Invite Into Your Living Room?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Think about it: unlike so many other sectors of society, the living room is one in which traditional approaches to media still largely dominate. DVD sales still dwarf streaming and online video in both numbers and revenue, while the web has yet to make any serious inroads onto people’s TVs."

I remember when the PlayStation 2 first came out, Sony was touting it as a home entertainment center. Microsoft also made some comments to the same effect when their original XBox was released. Convergence was all the talk. As it turns out, neither really lived up to the hopes of their creators, but it looks as if the battle for the living room is still going strong, but instead of Sony and Microsoft duking it out, two other challengers have entered the ring. Each have their own advantages, though I would think that Sony and Microsoft have an edge, with their well established install base of game consoles. Apple also has some strengths owing to its iTunes empire and iSomething devices. Google seems to have the greatest challenge ahead of them as all they really have is their branding. Of couse, if one company manages to ink deals with a lot of cable companies (something that Microsoft seems to be trying to do, really hard) that may just seal the deal. All I know is that for many years to come, I will have to be satisfied with watching a blank TV screen, in HD, of course, since it will be decades before any of these neat devices comes to Canada.

A Slate For Every Taste

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 10:30 AM

"Last week alone saw ViewSonic, Toshiba and Samsung all officially unveil new models of keyboard-less computer, with a mish-mash of operating systems and screen sizes hoping to somehow build themselves a market in the wake of Apple's market-leading device. So here's a summary of five of the best tablets out there and on the way this year. Or, to put it another way, the iPad +4."

Is the slate tablet market really that hot, or is this simply a whole bunch of hype intended to get everyone to open their wallets? Tablets might be the next step in casual computing and thankfully, it seems like it draws a large part of its inspiration from smartphones. The only one that stands out for me, and not in a good way, is the ViewPad 100. Dual-booting just seems like such a hassle and it is not like dual-booting slate tablets have not been tried before. Just ask HTC. Most likely, the iPad will continue to dominate the space though there will be a large amount of Android devices to pick from.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Microsoft on the Road to Nowhere

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 AM

"And indeed, if you look at Microsoft’s stock chart for the period in question, you see a nearly flat line, up only about 6%. The analysis is a little more favorable if you use the proper measure, adjusted closing price, which accounts not just for splits but for dividends and distributions. If you invested $1000 in Microsoft stock on January 2, 2001, and reinvested all your dividends, you have roughly $1,468 today, or a 47% return over nearly 10 years."

It was big news last week when word came that Apple's market cap surpassed Microsoft's. Unsurprisingly, fanboys from both camps started talking about the event in earnest. Behind this announcement, however, is an interesting tale of the PC industry in general. A lot of what writer Ed Bott makes sense. The PC has increasingly become a commodity with little differentiating competitors where Apple has branched out and remained as much a brand as a product. Ballmer definitely is being offered up as the sacrificial lamb for all that is wrong with Microsoft, though I wonder if Bill Gates would have done any better.

Tags: microsoft, apple

Friday, May 28, 2010

Apple Ousts Microsoft as Technology Company with the Biggest Market Cap

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 04:30 PM

"In the less-than-three months since Apple first passed Wal-Mart to hold the third highest market capitalization among U.S. companies, Apple's stock price has continued to increase while second-place Microsoft has seen its shares drift downward. The combination of events has quickly closed the gap between the two companies, and today Apple finally surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization for the first time in 20 years, although second-by-second fluctuations currently see the two companies frequently swapping positions."

This happened two days ago, but the results are still basically the same: Apple is now worth more than Microsoft. Looking back a decade or so, I doubt anyone could have predicted this - Apple was on the verge of going bankrupt, and Microsoft had more money than they knew what to do with. Microsoft is still worth a great deal in terms of market cap, but so is Apple. Personally, the stock market puzzles me - it's irrational and often ignorant. Microsoft posted some stunning results last quarter, earning a huge bump in profit, and their stock barely blipped. Not a great time to be a Microsoft shareholder (which I am, in a small way).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And the Mouse Came Back, the Very Next Day

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 AM

"Many tech pundits have already started drafting an obituary of the computer mouse like the one above, but let's be clear: we think the death of the mouse is greatly exaggerated. In fact, we're so convinced the mouse isn't dead that we've been testing some of the best on the market for the last couple of months. Click on below to find out why we think the lowly mouse has more than a few good years left, and which ones out there deserve your attention."

I do not know if the mouse will ever fully go away, but I can certainly see other user interfaces eating away at its marketshare. Yes, I am thinking of touch, but I also believe that voice recognition, while still very clunky, can also play a role in our future in interacting with technology. Mice are a fact of life in computing today, and the classic mouse + keyboard combination is difficult to beat for a lot of productivity work. As for mice, well, I am a Logitech man. Always have been and always will be. The basic shape they use works well with me, and I have yet to find anything that works as smoothly for me as their MX series. Anyone have a favourite mouse that they are still clinging on to and hoping it will never fail?

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Cost of Our Shiny Gadgets

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 01:00 PM

"It's obvious, by now -- or it should be -- that something's going on at Foxconn -- the owners of massive factories in China which most famously assembles Apple products (though it's also responsible for many, many others). There have been several suicide attempts this year -- at least a few of them successful (though it's been pointed out that the number is pretty much on par with the rest of China) -- and over the past few days we've seen what can only be called a shocking expose by a worker who went undercover there."

Engadget's Laura June shares her thoughts on the real cost of the gadgets we know and love - because this Foxconn issue isn't just about Apple; they make products for HP and other big OEMs. I share June's thoughts that I'm not an economist; I know enough about wages to know that they need to be appropriate for the country the workers are can't just take a North American minimum wage figure and use that. On the other hand, I support the concept of a "living wage" no matter what country we're talking about - if someone can't make a reasonable living working 40 hours a week, then they're not getting paid enough (and that applies to my own country as well).

I'd be a hypocrite if I said that the plight of the workers making my gadgets was at the forefront of my mind when I opened the package on a new device, but it's definitely something I've been thinking about more lately. Do I like cheap gadgets? Yes. But would I be willing to pay 10% more, knowing that money would make its way back to the workers in the form of better pay (which would be hard to do, but possible)? Yes, I absolutely would. Would you?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Macbooks Offer Battery Saving Advanced Tech

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:00 PM

"But new processors aren't the only improvement; Apple has also seen fit to increase the base RAM configuration to 4GB on all models and bump the hard drive and SSD options. And Apple claims battery life has been improved, with some models now going as long as 10 hours without plugging in."

Some would say that the new Macbook and Macbook Pro line is only a marginal upgrade over what is currently offered, but I see two points about these new notebooks which I find exciting. First, there's the claim of a 10 hour battery life. Manufacturers often exagerate these claims, but if it is anywhere close to what Apple is boasting, I see this as a good thing. In recent memory, ASUS has also been working to offer several notebooks that host just as much battery life like the UL series. Having a laptop that can run a full workday without having the beep beep beep of a low battery is one of the holy grails of portable computing and it looks like they are getting close! Part of the reason for this is NVIDIA's Optimus chipset. Instead of suffering with vampires like a discreet chipset, notebooks can now use an integrated chipset when all you are doing is Facebook and Twitter, only kicking in the more powerful GPU when you need to do something like video rendering. A more complicated notebook, sure, but it means we can get the best of both worlds! Now if they can trim down LCD power usage, we might just see 16 hour battery ratings!

Monday, April 5, 2010

With the iPad, What's Old is New

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"Although Apple is marketing the iPad as a replacement for a netbook or a laptop, Sweeting says Apple's control over the iPad makes it very different, because on most computers, you can choose any software or application you like. "This is not an open platform where you can create a lot of content, or other people can create a lot of applications and content that you can then access and use and incorporate into what you're doing," he says."

So the iPad has now been officially released in the United States for several days now, and the whole tech world has been inundated with reviews and comments about the device. As I do not have one of my own, I cannot make an honest comment about the experience it provides. However, NPR has tried to put their own spin on the slate, noting how the iPad (and Apple) are shifting things even more towards a gated community. With Apple fiercely protecting the App Store, this is no surprise. The same thing applies to the iPhone and iPod touch, and to a much lesser degree, Macs. That is part of the business model, and they are doing really well at it. However, I am reminded of another company who almost two decades ago also acted very much like a gated community. It offered custom content from large companies, and begrudgingly offered "limited" Internet access and was very openly and commonly derided for its simplistic and limited service. That company, of course, is AOL. I have to wonder how gated communities, mass promotion (I think I still have ond of their floppies, yes, that's FLOPPIES, not CDs.) and simple usage philosophy has changed in the public perception over the years. What happened?

Tags: hardware, apple, aol, ipad

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Watch Out Amazon! The iPad Might Just be a Kindle Killer

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"“We took a close-up look at the budding e-Reader market and found the iPad is all but certain to have a transformational impact on it going forward. While a handful of e-Reader manufacturers - most prominently Amazon - clearly have a major head start, the survey findings show the iPad is poised to profoundly shake up this market,” explained Paul Carton, Director of Research at ChangeWave."

I for one hope that the iPad is able to put a good dent in Kindle's market. While I am not personally thrilled about the walled garden nature that the iPad offers, the Kindle really is no different. What is more important to me is that there are more large competitors in the ebook market. The problem I see with a single large distributor of ebooks, as convenient as it may be, is that that distributor would have a significant amount of say in what gets published. I recall hearing rumors of how Walmart, what was one of the largest CD distributors in the United States, could have lyrics or the content of CDs changed. Under the guise of being "family friendly" I can understand their rationale, but it means there's a controlling interest in what we are able to access. Sure, we have the Internet to access most anything we want, but when a publisher will only publish a certain version of an ebook because Amazon, or Apple, or whomever says so, I shudder.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple iPad Hands-On Video from Engadget

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 11:23 PM

I'm sure Jeff at Apple Thoughts will have more to say on this tomorrow (and I had a fair bit to say about the iPad this morning on Twitter), but I figured any geek worth his salt is at least intrigued by the Apple iPad. The Engadget video shows how fast this gadget is, and it also shows how non-responsive it is to some touch attempts and how confusing parts of the user interface are. Maybe we're looking at beta software and hardware here? Read more...

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