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How Apple Inspired A Fightback Against the Tablet

November 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Could this be one of the big stories of 2011? Will the biggest challenge to the iPad be the actions of Apple itself? If you enjoy this, find the full editorial on TrustedReviews here.

 

How Apple Inspired A Fightback Against the Tablet

The technology sector is full of famous U-turns, but could Steve Jobs’ decision to stop trashing 11in laptops and build an 11.6in MacBook Air come back to haunt him? In particular could it cannibalise the tablet sector Apple has worked so hard to ignite?

The early signs are yes, something which has had industry experts hastily performing U-turns of their own. The common argument throughout 2010 has been netbooks have seen their day and the iPad is responsible – a simple deduction of 1 + 1 = 5. Truth is the iPad has shown a greater appetite for the iPod touch and netbooks have declined because a) having shipped 100s of millions of units in the last 18 months owners aren’t ready to upgrade again, and b) netbooks were horribly mis-sold as small laptops which turned many less techy owners off buying another one.

This realisation is starting to kick in as only last week market watcher ChangeWave admitted netbook sales were down, but as The Register reports, “not necessarily in the wake of the iPad’s introduction”. Let’s put this in further context. Apple sold 7.5m iPads in its first six months on sale, actually missing industry forecasts. By contrast netbook sales were on target to sell almost 60m this year despite a huge drop-off in growth. The iPad isn’t killing netbooks, netbooks are doing a fine job of killing themselves and the 11in laptop looks set to prey on both.

READ ON

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. 

New iPod touch, iPod nano & iPod shuffle

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

I’ve already had my say about Apple’s latest iPods, but here is the ‘Just the Bad Points’ breakdown of potential dealbreakers…

JtBP is about showing you what is wrong, contentious, or downright bubble headed about products. The reasons you might not want to spend your hard earned cash on them. So before you commit to reading lengthy reviews here’s what you should be wary of with Apple’s new iPods:


iPod touch (4th Generation)















  • Cut down 0.7 megapixel camera (960 x 720 pixels) – pale imitation of 5MP camera on iPhone 4
  • 8GB, 32GB & 64GB capacities are unchanged from last year’s models
  • Omission of 16GB sweet spot a deliberate attempt not to detract from 16GB iPod nano
  • Usual flaws of limited codec support, no storage expansion and 3G data remain – and will likely never be addressed


iPod nano (5th Generation)










  • Not the mini iPod touch we had all hoped for
  • Cut down iOS means no apps, no mobile iTunes store
  • Video recording and playback removed completely
  • Screen shrunk from 2.2 inches to 1.54 inches
  • Price for 16GB nano comes within touching distance of an 8GB iPod touch
  • What we hoped the shuffle would be, not the nano.

iPod shuffle (4th Generation)







  • Backwards step from Apple returning to 2006 design
  • Still no screen
  • Twice the price of superior MP3 player with screen, the SanDisk Sansa Clip+
  • Battery life still unremarkable: 15 hours audio playback
  • Capacity same since February 2008, at just 2GB

Are Apple’s New iPods A Deliberate Botch Job?

September 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Opening paragraphs reprinted with permission by TrustedReviews. If you wish to read my full feature you’ll find it here.

 

Are Apple’s New iPods A Deliberate Botch Job?

On Tuesday Steve Jobs announced the next generation of iPods, a new shuffle, nano and iPod touch. Widespread predictions were largely spot on and brought the usual reaction of excitement fused with modest frustration and a general agreement that Apple’s infamous marketing hyperbole remains as strong as ever, despite the iPhone 4 antenna climb down. Since Tuesday, however, I’ve been hit with a nagging sense of irritation which you may or may not share: is everything Apple announced that day a botch job?

Certainly I don’t expect everyone to agree with this viewpoint and it would be a boring world if you all did. In fact our very own Andy Vandervell describes them as “pretty tantalising” and Hugo will mount a spirited defence of iTunes’ Ping on Monday so I’ve a fight on my hands. Then again, let’s see if you can follow my logic because Apple frequently receives a great deal of adulation and this time I’m not entirely convinced it’s deserved…

Read on

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. 

iPhone 4

June 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

It wasn’t called the iPhone HD or the iPhone 4G, but that was about the only information the leaks had wrong. Thankfully there are many new and exciting elements to the new ‘iPhone 4′, but that is not what ‘Just the Bad Points’ is for. For that you’ll find many gushing websites all over the Web and you can read my extended opinions right here.

Instead JtBP is all about showing you what is wrong, contention, or downright bubble headed about products. The reasons you might not want to spend your hard earned cash on them. So before you commit to lengthy reviews here’s what you should be wary of with the new iPhone 4:

Just the Bad Points Review: Apple iPad

iPhone 4

  • Screen size still 3.5in despite rivals pushing to 3.7in and 4in
  • Same ageing facia remains
  • Move to micro SIM means regular SIM cards won’t fit
  • Improved camera uses only LED flash not the superior Xenon Flash
  • No 64GB version as widely expected (16GB/32GB only)
  • Still no microSD slot or HDMI/DisplayPort
  • Despite being thinner than the 3GS the iPhone 4 is slightly heavier
  • Battery still cannot be removed in new design
  • Bigger battery doesn’t extend standby time or video playback time
  • Same limited codec support
  • Photos still cannot be attached to existing emails
  • Still no Adobe Flash support (and there likely never will be)
  • Remains only available in black or white
  • Faux multitasking whereby most apps are paused in the background (streaming audio aside) rather than allowed to run simultaneously

Guide: Should You Take a Tablet?

May 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Originally published on the TalkTalkBlog. Reprinted with permission from TalkTalk.

Tablets are the talk of the technology sector, a seemingly exciting middle ground between smartphone and laptop. Apple, Dell, Toshiba, HP and Asus have all committed to the form factor and it is expected to challenge netbooks as the new must-have product of 2010. So with wave after wave of tablet marketing hype set to hit us between now and Christmas the big question is: should you buy one?

The Weight of History

I’d love to give you a one word answer, but the question is more complicated than thatUMPC. Why? Because until recently the tablet was a largely abandoned idea, a product type which had clocked up failure after failure. Most famously Apple had tried with the Newton in 1998 and Microsoft was foiled in 2006 with the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC). In fact the closest any practical form of ‘tablet’ has come to success is as a laptop hybrid where their lids are modified to swivel 180 degrees and be folded back onto the keyboard screen size up. TheThinkPad X Series has long offered this, but its appeal is decidedly niche. The pure form of tablet was dismissed long ago as ‘cool but impractical’ and that was that.

The iPad

So what changed? Apple changed. After years of speculation the company finally announced itsApple NewtonNewton avenger in January, the ‘iPad’. For all intents and purposes it is little more than a 10in iPod touch with extra power and it was ridiculed by everyone from the technology press to mainstream comedians. The iPad even got its own Downfall parody. One group wasn’t laughing, however: PC makers.

What they realised was AiPadpple had managed to capitalise on the ease of use intrinsic to the iPod touch and iPhone and bring it to a sector capable of competing with cheap laptops. Never before had basic entry level computing (email, web browsing, media consumption) been made so simple and accessible to the general public at truly affordable prices. Forget having to learn Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, the iPad can be used by a two year old. PC makers realised if consumers around the world bite then Apple will have made the Nintendo Wii of computers.

The Reponse

The response from Apple’s rivals has been fierce. They are making tablets which capitalise on what the iPad lacks: a web camera, industry standard connections like USB and HDMI, expandable storage and multi-tasking (a major omission which will be addressed by the much publicised iPhone OS 4.0 software update due later this year). Billions of dollars are being poured into a market which just a few months ago barely existed, but the bigger question is: Should it?

The Pros and Cons

X-Series-TabletFor all intents and purposes, no. The primary reasons tablets failed so many times in the past are still painfully present. In fact they always will be. Most obvious is a tablet requires two hands to hold securely yet two hands to operate effectively and it cannot stand up on its own. Oh dear. Furthermore, while tablets are smaller than laptops and slightly lighter than netbooks, they can’t be carried in a pocket so require an additional bag anyway. As a form factor it actually appears to fall short of the convenience of smartphones and the practicality of netbooks. Argument over.

Or is it? You see the appeal of tablets goes beyond logic because they appeal to our inner child. They tie into that futuristic vision of a single sheet of glass delivering all the information and services we could ever need. As children we didn’t dream about bulky desktop computers or laptops with their physical keyboards, we dreamt about tablets. Captain James T Kirk would never be seen holding a imaginary laptop on the deck of the Starship Enterprise, he swiped at mocked up plastic tablets before passing them off dismissively to a subordinate nearby. Of course had to pass them off, tablets are unwieldy and impractical!

That said the failure of past tablets has just been their impractical form factor, but equally because they failed to live up to our futuristic visions for them. With modern technology and – most importantly – modern finger friendly interfaces, they now can.

The Bottom Line

I started out writing this post in order to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t buy a tablet, but I’ve come to realise this is an impossible task. I’m a professional technology journalist, a critic, an analyst who looks at things logically and weighs up the pros and cons. I’d argue tablets are pointless, ridiculous creations worthy of every parody thrown at them and you’d be better off sticking to a smartphone and a netbook or laptop. Yet the appeal of owning a tablet isn’t formed from such considered roots. For those feeling the innate urge to buy a tablet, whatever I say won’t stop you, it has been hardwired into your DNA for years now. For those who are flummoxed by them, I can understand why.

The bottom line is tablets are coming yet again and they will divide consumer opinion like never before. As for me, I’m sticking with my laptop until everything becomes holographic.

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. 

The problem with Apple…

September 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Following what even the most hardcore Apple fans would admit was an underwhelming series of iPod announcements last week, we find a perfect example of why the company can inspire such hatred from non-believers…

No cuts are repeated.

Apple iPhone 3GS

June 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Here we go again. The Apple ‘iPhone 3GS’ is now on sale and it is already shaping up to be even more controversial than both its predecessors. On the hardware side it brings a slightly improved camera (3 megapixels with autofocus, compared to 2MP fixed focus), video recording, marginally better battery life and up to 3x faster performance. It sounds good, but more importantly what’s NOT to like…?

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: Apple iPhone 3GS:

Apple iPhone 3G S (yes, there's a space)
Apple iPhone 3GS (the original space between ‘3G’ and ‘S’ has now been removed – go figure!)
  • Evolution not revolution. This is the old model tweaked, not an overhaul
  • iPhone OS 3.0 brings most of the software benefits to iPhone 3G owners that the 3G S offers. Find a full features list here
  • Price. The iPhone 3G S is far more expensive than the iPhone 3G was at launch. Check with local telco before setting your heart on it
  • Push Notifications bring third party app alerts but do not represent full multitasking. When a programme closes it closes completely
  • Addition of turn by turn GPS still requires the purchase of third party software such as from flagship partner TomTom, which is extra expense
  • Low light camera performance is worse than the iPhone 3G (big problem if you want to take photos on nights out)
  • Screen not improved at all. Same resolution (320 x 480 pixels), jump not made to OLED
  • Searching emails across the server only checks the recipient and subject line details, not the body text
  • Looks just like the old iPhone 3G. There’s not even an ‘S’ on the back

Flaws still present from before:

  • A new model should be announced by June judging by Apple’s past track record
  • Camera lacks a flash
  • 16GB & 32GB options capacities available but no SDHC/microSDHC expansion slot to add to it
  • No second camera for video calling
  • iTunes tie: media content locked to specific computer, no simple drag & drop way to add files
  • Limited codec support excludes likes of Ogg Vorbis audio and – crucially – AVI video so lengthy format conversion required with third party software
  • Non-removeable battery so it can’t be swapped out on long journeys & requires expensive procedure to replace at an Apple store should it degrade outside the warranty
  • No Flash support in the mobile Safari web browser

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

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

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…

No Macro Mode but It's Not the End of the World

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


01-03-2009-17-26-14

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.

[nggallery id=3]

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

Apple iPhone 3G

February 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

A (relative) oldie but a goldie. This controversial handset is still the device I get most questions about, bar none, so let’s clear up these issues once and for all.There has never been a mobile phone which more embodied the spirit of JtBP because boy-oh-boy are the good points good (in fact revelatory and revolutionary), but as for the bad points – well… Read more

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