Is Apple TV Apple’s Most Important Product?

February 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

 

Strange but true: 3rd generation iPad and Apple TVs will be announced next month. You should be more excited about the latter…

Is Apple TV Apple’s Most Important Product?

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There is a lot of excitement about 7 March, but it is focused on the wrong product. While the headlines speculate upon the possibility of Tim Cook unveiling a fatter iPad 3 or even iPad 2S, an arguably far more important product is also tipped to take to the stage: a new Apple TV.

In purely financial terms this sounds like a ludicrous statement. In January Apple reported huge financial results which revealed sales of 15.43 million iPads in just 14 weeks up to 31 December. It represented a growth of 111 per cent over the same period in 2010 and nearly tripled the 5.2m Macs sold over the same period. A post PC era indeed. Furthermore iPhone sales were reported at 37.04m, an even bigger 128 per cent leap year on year. To quote Tim Cook: “We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs”. What of the Apple TV? It wasn’t even mentioned.

224561 in an e mail to a customer apple ceo tim cook assured that the company Is Apple TV Apples Most Important Product?
Except this isn’t entirely true. Cook was quizzed about the omission of Apple TV figures by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in follow up financial call. “The Apple TV product is doing actually very well,” Cook admitted. “In the last fiscal year that ended in September we sold a bit above 2.8 million units, and just in the past quarter we set a new quarterly record for Apple TV at over 1.4 million.” That said, “in the scheme of things, if you [check] the revenues, we still classify this as a hobby” he added. Again financially speaking Cook is right, 1.4m $99 Apple TVs (admittedly £99 in the UK) would generate just $140m compared to the $2.5bn for the iPad, $6.6bn for the Mac and $9bn for the iPhone.
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Interestingly, given Apple’s famous marketing rhetoric, Cook continued to play down the Apple TV. “I think it’s a fantastic product,” he said “and we continue to pull the strings to see where it takes us” but then the guard slipped: “if you’re using the latest one… I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t live without it.” Taken as a whole this paints an unusually convoluted picture for a company so polished in its presentation: 50 per cent of all sales in the last three months, hobby, see where it takes us, I couldn’t live without it. Anyone might think Apple is trying to hide something? Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

AOC i2353Fh 23in IPS LED Monitor

February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

 

The world’s thinnest IPS monitor also has a budget price. Can this be the best of both worlds?

Price as reviewed £140.00

Overall 9/10

Key Features

  • 23in 16:9 E-IPS panel
  • 9.2mm thick display
  • 1920 x 1080 Native Resolution
  • 178 degree viewing angles
  • 5ms GTG response time
  • 2x 2W speakers
  • Dual HDMI input

AOC i2353Fh 23in IPS LED Monitor

The tech sector moves so quickly it can be hard to know when to take the next step. IPS panel monitors are a perfect example: just a few years ago a 23in model would have been aimed at professionals, measured several inches thick and typically cost in excess of £500. Today we have a 23in IPS monitor, thinner than a smartphone, retailing for under £150 and targeting everyone. Is it time to take that step?

One look at AOC’s ‘i2353Fh’ would certainly suggest as much. AOC has long been known for its budget products (and they haven’t always fared well in our hands), but the i2353Fh is the first model we have seen which truly aims to punch above its weight. As such the first surprising figures don’t come from the screen, but the design.

6003 AOC i2353Fh 23in IPS LED Monitor

The i2353Fh has dimensions (with the base) of 558 x 389 x 185 mm which is wholly unremarkable, but a weight of just 2.49Kg raises eyebrows and at 9.2mm deep the thickness of the display is positively jaw dropping. As far as we are aware, this is currently the thinnest IPS monitor in the world. Naturally enough AOC has pulled some strings to achieve this – the PSU is a power brick on the cable and inputs are in the chunky base (actually making them easier to connect/disconnect) – but the end result is no less stunning. Combined with its slim bezel, brushed aluminium finish and deliberately subtle AOC logo it will be a piece of design nirvana for minimalists and fans of Apple’s design philosophy.

Then again like any supermodel,  the i2353Fh does suffer from moments of dizziness under close inspection. Most practically is the i2353Fh’s limited adjustability. It has a limited 18 degree tilt angle (-4 to 14 degrees), but there is no height adjustment or pivot. Being so light the latter isn’t a huge problem and a book will solve the former, but the omission of both is certainly disappointing, if understandable at this price. In addition, while the i2353Fh looks superb in general, there are inconsistencies in the finish and build materials which take away some gloss. For example the bezel is brushed aluminium, the neck has a mirror finish and the base is matt silver and plastic. Nice but not exactly a new dawn in product design.

Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

 

Cheap Imitation: The Risk of Windows on ARM

February 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

 

Why Microsoft’s plans for Windows on ARM risk going horribly wrong.

Cheap Imitation: The Risk of Windows on ARM

94 0000222a7 81d7 orh300w300 arm on windows Cheap Imitation: The Risk of Windows on ARM

It is said disappointment comes wrapped in lengthy explanation and it doesn’t get much lengthier than the 8 627 words it took Windows Division president Steven Sinofsky to finally detail ‘Windows 8 on ARM’. ‘WOA’ may sound like a line from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but we were far from wowed – in fact we can summarise Sinofsky’s 8,627 words in just two: cheap imitation.

Here is what we learned:

1. WOA will have a desktop, albeit one that only runs Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) and opens Explorer.
2. WOA will not support virtualisation so no existing x86/x64 programs will ever run on it
3. WOA programmes must be Metro-style apps, only available through the Windows Store
4. WOA’s version of Internet Explorer will not support Flash
5. WOA will be launched at roughly the same time as the x86/x64 version of Windows 8 (Q4 2012), but will not match the latter’s 29 February public beta.

In short: it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, but isn’t really a duck. And for the masses who struggle to tell you what version of Windows they currently run, it is a recipe for disaster. Sceptical? Jump forward 12 months and try explaining points 1-4 to any relative when they ask you what to buy. Worse still run through the conversation you’ll have with friends and relatives who have already bought a WOA device and want to know how they go about installing their favourite programs. The Chinese are famous for producing underwhelming knock-offs of long established, trusted brands… it is rarely done by the brand owner itself.

What Microsoft has done with WOA is break the golden rule: don’t mislead those easily mislead – there is a reason children can walk you through Apple’s product range. As it stands WOA is an important technical achievement for Microsoft’s engineers, but with Intel Medfield architecture hitting devices shortly will there be any real motivation to opt for the watered down Windows? Whatever is saved on price is lost many times over by the fact you will have to buy Metro-equivalents of your existing software all over again. It also sends out the wrong message: Windows using ARM chips cannot be as good, as fully featured as Windows on x86/x64 chips.
Ultimately WOA is the result of misdirection. Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Private Property: What Google’s Unified Privacy Policy Means for You

February 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

 

I enjoy the opportunity to get my teeth into topics in some depth so if you’re wondering what Google’s new privacy policy will mean to its users, read this!

Gordon Kelly  avatar thumbnail Private Property: What Googles Unified Privacy Policy Means for You

Written by
Gordon Kelly (for IT Pro Portal)

“We’ve been tidying up a little, making our privacy policies and terms more consistent, easier to read and easier to understand. You see while privacy policies, ours included, may not be the most popular read on the Internet, we think they’re important. So instead of over 60 policies for different Google products and features we’re introducing just one with fewer words, simpler explanations and less legal gloop to wade through.”

-Google Privacy Policy Update promotional video (24.01.2012)

600111 Private Property: What Googles Unified Privacy Policy Means for You

One Policy to Rule them all

From 1 March Google is radically overhauling its privacy policies. In broad terms Google’s numerous (70, not 60) policies will be replaced with just one. Consequently instead of a policy for Gmail, one for Google Calendar, one for YouTube, another for Search and so on they will be amalgamated and no longer tied to services, but accounts. Crucially Google will then share the information you provide across all these services, though not with third parties. Again the pitch is compelling:

“Over time it’ll mean better search results and ads, we’ll understand that when you search for Jaguar you’re looking for a jaguar [animal] and not a Jaguar [car],” claims Google. “It can mean more accurate spelling suggestions because you’ve tagged a word before and it may even mean we’ll be able to tell you when you’ll be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and local traffic conditions. All of which means we’re not just keeping your private stuff private, we’re making it more useful to you in your daily life too.”

60011 1 Private Property: What Googles Unified Privacy Policy Means for You

These benefits are tangible. If you discuss your interest in something in an email YouTube may suggest videos about it and search results will be automatically refined to improve their effectiveness. For Google Apps (professional Google accounts) the situation is slightly different: core Apps services (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sites, Control Panel) have their own contract which takes precedence over the new privacy terms so they will be unaffected. Access non-core services (YouTube, Picasa, Blogger, etc) with your Google Apps account however and information will be shared between them.

Why you should be worried

Four key reasons: stubbornness, convergence, exposure and track record.

Stubbornness - Google is not budging over the implementation of its unified privacy policy, despite pressure from both the European Union and US Congress. Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Monitor Audio i-deck 200

February 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

 

Producing audiophile sound quality for a budget price may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t…

Monitor Audio i-deck 200

Price as reviewed £249.95

Key Features

  • 2.2 dual speaker, dual sub configuration
  • 140W total output
  • Automatic Position Correction (APC)
  • Integrated 28/56bit dual processing DAC
  • Floating dock

Value. It has arguably become the most important score in reviews. A product can be good or bad, but if it is impressive in relation to its price then that alone can turn an average device into a highly desirable one. So what about an excellent product that has had its price slashed?

The Monitor Audio i-deck 200 is such a case. The big brother to the £299 i-deck 100 we reviewed in October, it has had its original £400 RRP spectacularly cut to £250. This not only makes it cheaper than the i-deck 100 launch price (itself now cut to £200), but places it in an entirely new price bracket. This poses two important questions: do we have a £400 dock for £250, or an overpriced dock that is now closer to its true value?

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Out of the box signs certainly suggest the former. The i-deck 200 is very well built. Its curved design is similar to the JBL OnBeat and TEAC Aurb SR-100i, but the finish – despite the use of plastics, instead of wood or metals, is far superior to both. The triangular patterned rear is a notable talking point (as is the questionable inspiration for the glossy front gap which separates the speakers), but the quality of the thick, rubberised base, well fitted panels, reassuring power and volume buttons and smart, Zeppelin-esque spring loaded floating dock mount are beyond question.

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In particular the dock is worth attention. By floating clear of the speaker’s body it does away with the need for different inserts for specific iDevices and it is strong enough to hold an iPad – a product many docks can’t accommodate. Furthermore the sprung dock connector both holds iDevices securely against the rubberised back and, like the arms on spring loaded glasses, allows them to be removed easily and without risk of damage. Should the dock connector break, the unit can even be swapped out without needing to send back the entire dock. Clever.

Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Loewe Soundbox

February 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

 

Can Loewe marry design prowess and acoustic bliss with this premium CD playing iPod dock?

Loewe Soundbox

Price as reviewed £449.00, Overall: 6/10

Key Features

  • 2.0 speaker system
  • CD player & FM radio
  • Apple dock connector
  • Interchangeable top finish
  • Universal remote operates Loewe TVs & DVD players

Technology and style are concepts many companies are only starting to realise go hand in hand, but this accusation could never be levelled at Loewe. The German manufacturer has long married both concepts producing visually arresting products with similarly jaw dropping price tags. The approach has served the company well in its traditional TV and AV equipment lines, but does it translate to iPod docks?

94 000022048 7214 orh616w616 2087 Soundbox Loewe Soundbox

We were lucky enough to be the first UK site to get our hands on the Loewe Soundbox and it makes an immediate impression. Removed from its packaging, the it is 100 per cent Loewe: striking, polarising and individual. At 470 x 190 x 58mm, 6.1Kg and decidedly rectangular, the ‘box’ aspect to the Soundbox is certainly true. Meanwhile typical Loewe styling comes in the form of a near-retro dot-matrix-esque LCD display, long line of physical control buttons and the ‘feature wall’ top which comes with a textured hard metal inset. Being Loewe the top is interchangeable and can be swapped out for an array of different colours “to suit any décor”.

Functionality is more traditional. An iPod dock is the primary means of connectivity, but it is complimented by USB, an auxiliary input and a headphone socket. Also packed in are an FM radio with RDS and a slot loading CD player. For audiophiles who struggle to see the value of lossy codecs and lament the demise of their extensive CD collections this will be a key feature.

94 000022044 8937 orh616w616 2082 Soundbox Loewe Soundbox

Interestingly Loewe continues its trick of using proprietary universal remotes and the Soundbox remote can also control Loewe TVs, DVD and Blu-ray players. As such the Soundbox remote is as big as one for a TV and contains a lot of additional functionality such as EPG and PIP (picture-in-picture) buttons, record controls and more. This is handy if you already own Loewe equipment, but unnecessarily complicates usage if you don’t.

What about the beating heart of the Soundbox?

Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Amphion+Nuforce Helium 410 System

February 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

 

One of the best 2.0 systems money can buy, which means a. lot. of money.

Amphion+Nuforce Helium 410 System

Price as reviewed £899.00

Overall 8/10

Key Features

  • 2.0 80W two way, vented speakers
  • Amp & USB DAC
  • UDD sound dispersion technology
  • Optical, coaxial and USB input

Finland is a famously quiet country. Courses in small talk are popular and with the lowest population density in Europe (just 41 people per square mile), it could be argued much of Finns’ taciturn nature is by consequence not design. As such it makes perfect sense that a Finnish speaker maker would go against the grain and promote the quietness of its latest speaker ahead of its volume.

94 000021fc6 761b 03 02 2012 01 02 37 Amphion+Nuforce Helium 410 System

The ‘Helium 410′ represents a new ‘entry level’ 2.0 arrangement in Amphion’s audiophile product range and it comes with a simple philosophy: what you hear at low volume is just as (if not more) important than what you hear when it’s loud. The theory is solid, more often than not you cannot blast your speakers due to family and neighbours. It also exposes a dirty industry secret: many speakers need to be blasted before they come alive. The obvious question is whether this is just a marketing ploy?

Certainly straight out the box the Helium 410s are unusual. They eschew the traditional use of wood and instead are constructed from a composite material available in a matt black or white finish. The effect is unusual – perhaps even polarising – but the build quality is exceptional, which is unsurprising given all Amphion speakers are handmade. A nice touch is the metal speaker grills are removable and available in a wide collection of colours should you fancy a change.

94 000021fc8 4eb5 orh616w616 helium410 colors2 92543 zoom Amphion+Nuforce Helium 410 SystemKey to the 410s is their versatility. Each speaker weighs 3.5Kg and measures 259 x 132 x 220mm making them small enough to use as desktop speakers, yet substantial enough to hook up to your TV. The former role is assisted by a focus on near field listening, while Amphion promotes the 410′s ’3-dimensional soundstaging’ and correct placement of voices to make them equally at home in the latter.

Continue reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Orange Tahiti Android Tablet

February 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

 

Orange has a new approach to selling tablets which is both a bargain and a rip-off. Why? Find out in my reviews of Orange Tahiti for TrustedReviews and Mobile Choice. A sample of my review for Mobile Choice is below:

 

Orange Tahiti Android tablet

Apple shocked the market when its iPad tablet didn’t cost as much as a small car, and now consumers expect to get good prices when shopping for slates. As such Orange has surprised everyone by releasing the Orange Tahiti tablet – the cheapest and yet most expensive tablet on the market.

The Cheapest, but most expensive tablet

This confusion comes because the Orange Tahiti (aka Huawei MediaPad) pushes a concept that remains relatively new in the UK: tablets on contract. It is cheap because for £69 this dual-core, seven-inch, 3G-equipped Android tablet can be yours. It’s expensive because it requires the signing of a two-year, £25 per month data contract that provides 2GB of data per month and brings the total cost of ownership to £669. That is £10 more than a 64GB iPad 2 with 3G.

So is the Tahiti a bargain? Yes and no.

600 Orange Tahiti Android Tablet

Why it seems a bargain

Fighting for a yes verdict are the build quality, features and specification. On the outside the Tahiti is very well made. The design may not be inspiring, but the metal sides and rounded rear hark back to the original iPhone while the drilled speaker, power and mini HDMI ports could have come straight off an iPhone 4S (if Apple supported HDMI). Inside the Tahiti impresses too with a dual core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of native storage that can be enlarged by a further 32GB thanks to a microSD card slot.

Switch the Tahiti on and the positive impressions continue. For once Orange hasn’t burdened a product with its gaudy themes and bloatware apps and the Android 3.0-based Tahiti is far better off for it, especially with Hauwei promising an upgrade to Android 4.0 in February.

Continue reading on Mobile Choice

(Link to my review of the Tahiti for TrustedReviews)

 

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

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