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Apple iPod shuffle (3rd Generation)

March 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Apple’s smallest ever MP3 player is also possibly its most controversial – and this is why…

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description please read: the Rules

ipodshuffle image3 20090311 Apple iPod shuffle (3rd Generation)

iPod shuffle 3rd Generation

Just the Bad Points Review: iPod shuffle (3rd Generation)

  • Removal of on-player controls renders your existing third party earphones/headphones useless without cost of a separate adaptor
  • Positioning of inline controls on the new earphones is just below the chin, not ideal during exercise
  • Positioning of inline controls on adaptor too low with existing third party earphones
  • Clip and on-player controls of its predecessor meant you could position them wherever convenient
  • Reduced battery life (10 hours compared to 12 hours on 2nd generation shuffle)
  • No display unlike all major rivals in its price range
  • No track selection functionlity
  • No FM tuner as on rivals
  • No voice recorder as on rivals
  • VoiceOver text-to-speech prone to mispronunciation
  • Heralded minimalist design is surely just an aluminium coated memory key
  • Improved 4GB storage still only half that available on some rivals
  • Requires new iTunes download
  • Were adding 5mm to its height, dropping 10mm in width, 2mm in depth and 5 grams in weight from shuffle 2G worth all this?
  • Price (£59) is a lot more than an 8GB Sansa Clip (£39) which also has a display, FM tuner, voice recorder, track, album, artist and playlist selection, 15 hours of battery life and drag and drop content

February Apollo Tech Journalist UK Rankings

March 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

So it’s that time again to see the controversial Apollo Top UK journalist rankings, this time for February 2008.

18 03 2009 02 45 59 February Apollo Tech Journalist UK Rankings

Apollo February UK 20 Top Journalist League Table

For comparison here are links to the December rankings and January rankings.

Lastly, congratulations to word machine Carrie-Ann Skinner whatever it all means

Philips 21:9 Cinema HDTV

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

It’s perhaps the most radical development in home television since High Definition and Widescreen, Philips’ ground breaking 21:9 ‘Cinema’ promises to bring true cinema aspect ratios to our living rooms. Yet amongst all this excitement what are the reasons to be cautious?

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description please read: the Rules

Just the Bad Points Review: Philips 21:9 Cinema

9963 219frontwithoutstand Philips 21:9 Cinema HDTV

The Future Shape of All Televisions?

  • While pixel mapping does support 16:9, 4:3 content inevitably has very thick vertical bars
  • 21:9 name is mathematical approximation which may just further confuse public
  • Will the industry support it? Currently only 60 per cent of DVDs and Blu-rays have a 21:9 mode
  • At 20cm deep it’s not particularly slim
  • Not LED backlit, it’s limited to CCFL
  • 56in is only size on offer for now
  • Ambilight Spectra implementation is sadly only three sided, not four
  • Asking Price (4,000 euros)
  • Launch not until June (time to save up?!)
  • Rivals are expected to follow suit with 21:9 models of their own, so is it better to wait?
  • Is it rarely wise to buy the first generation of anything…

Looking for more? My Philips 21:9 Cinema preview can be found at my usual TrustedReviews stomping ground.

Spotify

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

When it launched in October last year Spotify was the great little secret of the music industry. That changed last month when Spotify opened registration to all UK residents and it has fast become the talk of the Internet (well, that and Twitter). It’s not hard to see why: instantaneous, high quality audio streaming, a vast library of artists, deals in place with the Big Four record labels (Universal, Sony BMG, Time Warner & EMI) and a choice of free ad-supported or monthly subscription models. Still, time to get tough…

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product or service before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description of JtBP please read: the Rules

Just the Bad Points Review: Spotify

I feel bad even doing this:

spotify Spotify

Revolutionising the music industry - but it isn't perfect

  • Spotify has yet to disclose how much bandwidth its service sucks up
  • Artist Biographies are often out of date, missing off their latest releases
  • No iTunes, Last.fm or Pandora integration
  • No Lyrics
  • Basic radio incorporation
  • Only form of music recommendations come through advertising
  • Few features/software updates since launch
  • Very limited options to purchase content (though arguably it slightly destroys the point)
  • More invasive secondary advertising has been creeping (particularly in case of new U2 album ‘No Line on the Horizon’)
  • While new content is added, existing content has shrunk with individual artists demanding greater royalty deals
  • No third party handset applications as yet (despite iPhone client being spotted)
  • Security question marks after user accounts were hacked last week

Despite this get it, just GET IT!

As always suggestions welcome…

Update: to be clear there is at least scrobbling to Last.fm (appreciated radioedit)

Picturing One Trillion Dollars

March 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Will all the talk of economic bail-outs to the turn of trillions of dollars just how much money is that visually?

A brilliant post from Zee Slash Blog breaks it down for us using a packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000.


packet Picturing One Trillion Dollars

A decent wedge

So firstly, one million dollars ($1,000,000):


pile Picturing One Trillion Dollars

Looks So Trivial...

Next, one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000)

 

pallet x 10 Picturing One Trillion Dollars

More like it...

Finally, one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) – note each pallet is double packed!

 

pallet x 10000 Picturing One Trillion Dollars

Even Bill Gates can only dream of this much money...

The iPhone Camera is Better Than You Think

March 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

There are many things the iPhone does well although for those interested I’ve also reviewed Just the Bad Points. Traditionally the iPhone’s infamously basic camera would feature in the latter category lacking a high resolution, autofocus, flash, zoom, image stabilisation but (and this is a big but) it isn’t nearly as bad as it is made out to be.

The reasons for this are a reasonably quick shutter action, decent low light performance and good colour reproduction. There is also a trick to getting half decent pictures with the iPhone camera: the photo is only taken when your finger is removed from the camera icon so you can prep shots much as you would with a standard compact or DSLR.

Now the iPhone camera is never going to be in the same league as dedicated cameraphones but just look what can be done with a little effort…

01 03 2009 17 27 49 The iPhone Camera is Better Than You Think

No Macro Mode but It Isn't the End of the World


01 03 2009 17 26 14 398x269 custom The iPhone Camera is Better Than You Think

Even Action Shots Aren't Impossible

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They’re not anywhere up to the standard of these samples, but here are some of my own efforts in recent times – most of which were taking during difficult lighting conditions.

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Great credit to Photocritic for putting together an exhaustive gallery illustrating many brilliant examples of top notch iPhone photography. If you’re hungry for more then check out the full array from the link below.

Link: Photocritic – 100 Amazing iPhone Photos

Windows Phone Beta (WM 6.5)

March 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

While businesses still hold loyal to Windows Mobile there is no doubt it has lost end user credibility in recent years. So is the latest edition more than a fancy piece of rebranding?

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description please read: the Rules

Just the Bad Points Review: Windows Phone Beta

This could take a while…

windows phone Windows Phone Beta (WM 6.5)

Not the Upgrade We Were Looking For...

  • Underneath Windows Phone is still built upon the same core as Windows Mobile 5, this is evolution not revolution
  • The majority of changes are superficial designed to make it more finger friendly, such as the ‘honeycomb’ homescreen
  • Despite this you are all too quickly back into Windows Mobile 6.1 layouts requiring use of a stylus (HTC has done better skinning with TouchFLO)
  • Poor design: permanent vertical scroll bars remain eating up precision screen real estate despite touch & rocker scrolling
  • IE Mobile may render pages better (and with Flash support) but the layout is still clumsy and fills up too much of the screen
  • Windows Mobile Player has no Zune integration and no improvements from 6.1 making it just as useless and limited in codec support as its predecessor. This is not a natively media friendly operating system
  • No multi-touch support
  • Performance is slow with scrolling (particularly on the homescreen) choppy and apps slow to load (let’s hope this gets ironed out before the final release)
  • No support for capacitive touchscreens as seen in the iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1 and exciting Palm Pre, meaning a restriction to more imprecise and less responsive resistive touchscreens only
  • The bigger onscreen virtual keyboard is troublesome because of this restriction
  • Microsoft won’t offer Windows Mobile 6.1 users an update to Windows Phone directly, the decision is left to each individual network provider
  • Windows Phone isn’t scheduled to arrive until Q4 2009 which means it will arrive after the Palm Pre, second generation Android handsets and the third generation iPhone

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