Archive for the 'Technology News' Category



30
May
09

Don’t Expect Much From the “New iPhone” – Apple has to ‘Play it Safe’

Capture Now that I’m less than a week away from, excluding any unforeseen product shortages, adopting a Palm Pre as my primary mobile device, my peers keep prodding me with questions.  Many of my tech friends haven’t really been following the Pre and WebOS that closely.  Actually, it’s surprising how many haven’t been following it.  Even Leo Laporte (whom I consider to be kinda close to the cutting edge when talking about tech) is only now starting to pay attention to the Pre.  And he seems to be doing it in a very apologetic way.  (‘You know what, I think I’m gonna check out the Palm Pre…’).  The truth is that he’s probably following the Pre because he has to – as a tech correspondent, he has to stay on top of what the current focus is, and right now that’s the Pre.

Having read message boards and talked to other tech fans, what is most surprising to me are the number of people who are anxiously anticipating the announcement of the next iteration of the iPhone.  Okay, so it’s not that surprising – any Apple announcement these days (and particularly one where Steve Jobs might take the stage – and it’s about a 75% lock that it will happen in my book) will get tech journalists pens moving.  But this time around, I’m much more interested in the other stuff that Apple might talk about.  For people who know their tech, there should be almost no excitement for the iPhone this go round.  And there are a few reasons for it.

About two plus months ago, I was buzzing around my office at work.  Apple had announced that they would be previewing some of the features of the forthcoming iPhone OS 3.0.  While I thought the Pre was intriguing, innovative and sorta tempting, I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the folks at the Apple Campus at Cupertino.  I knew (or, at least, I thought I knew) that whatever they announced would make me forget about the multi-tasking, cloud synching, synergetic phone that Palm revealed two months earlier.  Upon reflection, had I been able to take a trip up to the ‘wisdom mountain’ and really clear my head, I would have seen the obvious. 

Continue reading ‘Don’t Expect Much From the “New iPhone” – Apple has to ‘Play it Safe’’

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13
Apr
09

20 Reasons Why I’m Leaving My iPhone for the Palm Pre

Having been an iPhone owner since it launched in June of 2007, many who know me assumed that I would be upgrading to future releases of the iPhone.  (After all, isn’t that what an Apple Fanboy would do?).

I skipped the iPhone 3G.  And although there are some pains associated with not having some of the features, I am sure that I made the right decision.  There are few differences between the iPhone 2G and 3G.  The cases are slightly different — the 2G shedding the silver backing for a shiny plastic one with the 3G.  The only other differences are a GPS radio, connectivity to the AT&T 3G network, a 16GB version and a non-recessed headphone jack.  Everything else is practically the same.  Same processor, same architecture — same everything.  None of these additions were tantalizing enough to make me consider extending my AT&T contract another two years.

In December when Palm sent around teasers to the technology press inviting them out to experience “Palm’s Newness”, I was intrigued.  But I never even considered the thought that anything they would have to say would make me consider leaving what has been a great experience with my current iPhone.

That was until I watched the keynote.

I watched the entire hour long keynote when I got home after the presentation – twice.  At first, I was simply impressed.  I didn’t expect much from Palm and any device that pushes the envelope and gives other competitors a reason to stay on their toes and not play it safe benefits us all.  And certainly with the announcement of the Pre, Palm was doing just that.

In the weeks that would follow after watching countless hands-on videos and imagining the possibilities, I began to consider the phone more and more.  (I’m at the point now where I can probably do the demo that they have scripted for the press myself.)

Make no mistake about it — barring any monumental announcement made by Apple between now and June 29, the Palm Pre will be my next phone.  And having made that decision, I realize that potentially there’s a lot that I’m losing.  But for me, there’s so much more that I believe I’ll be gaining.

Before I get into the reasons why I’m probably going to buy the Pre, I want to state that it has nothing to do with some flaw or huge dissatisfaction in my iPhone experience.  There are areas with my iPhone where I feel that I could have been better served.  But overall, I have never had as seamless an experience as I have had with this device.  All of my data (provided I have a connection to the web) is in one central location.  My music, pictures, emails, contacts and calendar are all replicated from my PC on my phone.  The battery life could be better, but considering how much I use it as my primary media player, I really can’t complain.

Also, before reading the list, please consider the fact that I would be coming from the 2G version of the iPhone to any 3G device (Palm Pre or iPhone 3G).  There are some benefits that I’d gain by simply buying a 3G device.  But casting aside the iPhone 3G, everyone knows that the smart money says between now and June, Apple will announce the next version of the iPhone.  So this is a decision I’m making having not seen the next iPhone.  If Apple addresses many of the benefits I outline here having observed the Pre, my decision could change.  However, looking at the iPhone 3.0 press conference, I don’t think it will.  Regardless of how improved the new iPhone’s hardware is and whether it has twice or three times the existing memory or a forward-facing camera or any of the other rumors I’ve heard, my concerns are largely with the software and the overall experience.  The 3.0 press conference didn’t impress me at all.  The benefits discussed were largely targeted towards developers, with a few bones tossed out to consumers like “Cut and Paste” and “Search”.

But I need to preface this discussion by saying that I am rather pleased with my current phone.  The iPhone is still a revolutionary device when compared to other phones, and this is without any of the benefits brought in by the App Store.  The addition of applications last year has really expanded the ability of the device and I would recommend the iPhone to almost anyone looking for a great multimedia phone.

So why the switch?  (So glad you asked.)

Continue reading ’20 Reasons Why I’m Leaving My iPhone for the Palm Pre’

12
Apr
09

So, am I an “Apple fanboy”?

In many of my social circles, I’m considered the infamous “Apple fanboy”.  You know, a fanboy — one who pledges an undying devotion to a product or brand, regardless of what other alternatives exist.  And if you didn’t know me and only examined my home, you’d be hard pressed to conclude differently.  The “Think Different” poster is one giveaway.  The iMac and Macbook Pro are probably two others.  It’s true — I have a deep appreciation for products made by the folks in Cupertino.

I started using OS 10 in 2001 out of sheer interest.  My intention was to buy a Powerbook, check it out for a few weeks and then return it, paying the restocking fee as the price for renting the machine.  However, the more I delved into the OS and the more I found that I liked, and the harder it was to part with.

Turn the page eight years later and my house looks like an Apple Retail Store.  I owned the 2nd iPod (in 2001 I paid <gulp> $499 for a 10 gig behemoth — and I still have it.)  Since the Powerbook, I’ve owned four other Macs and only recently have I given one to a family member (and that was a tough decision).  I’ve owned three full-sized iPods, two iPod shuffles and I was about the fiftieth person on line in Bridgewater New Jersey on June 29, 2007 waiting five hours for the chance to spend $599 to buy the first iPhone.

I guess I can’t really run from the accusations of Apple fanboy-ism.

But examining my tech life a little further reveals more than just an appreciation for all things that have an Apple logo on them.  I was running Window 3.1 in 1991 and took the day off to get Windows 95 when it released.  I bought Windows 98 the day it came out and was the first in an office of so-called techies to run beta versions of Windows 2000 and subsequently XP.  People didn’t even ask if I was running the new OS — they just knew: “Hey Dev, how’s Windows XP?  Should I be considering it??”

And then there are all of the other tech purchases and gadgets.  I’ve owned a bunch of other mp3 players — and this was pre-iPod, when most folks were walking around with portable CD players.  I was a launch-day purchaser or the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, PlayStation (September 9, 1995), GameBoy Advance and probably a few other gaming consoles.  I was an early purchaser of the Amazon Kindle.  I’ve owned two netbooks — one Asus eee PC (which I sold) and a Dell Mini 9.  I own a Nokia 770 Internet tablet.

When I go into a Best Buy, without being obnoxious, I’ve often assisted confused customers about buying decisions and sadly the guys in the store know me well enough not to ask me if I need any help.  (Truthfully, I listen to so many tech podcasts and read so much about tech that often times I find myself helping them.)

I drop all of this information not to bask in my technology glory, but to clarify my stance.  I am not an Apple fanboy.  I am a tech aficionado. There’s a stark difference.  I haven’t purchased and don’t own everything Apple.  I have the experience and understanding of technology to give an objective opinion on most technology offerings – and that includes the ones made by Apple.  In fact, I have been known to criticize Apple when I felt that it’s offering was sub-standard.  I didn’t buy an Apple TV and wouldn’t buy one as it currently stands.  I’ve always despised their mice and keyboards.  And although I run OS 10 as my primary operating system, I also run three other operating systems right now (Windows Vista, Windows 7 – beta 7077, and Ubuntu 8.10).  To call me an Apple fanboy would be like calling Tiger Woods ‘a pretty good putter’ – it’s a true statement, but an incredibly reductive one as well.

15
Oct
08

So About These MacBook Announcements…

Apple Netbook The MacBook Pro will always have a special place in my tech treasure chest.  Strangely, it was the first Mac I purchased (in 2001 – back then we called ‘em PowerBooks.)  And for a long time I thought that’s where my computing dollar would be spent: continuously upgrading from MacBook Pro to MacBook Pro.  Perhaps I wouldn’t upgrade each year, but I’d certainly get in on major revisions and every other cycle.  And strangely enough this would be the cycle that would make sense.  (I bought my MacBook Pro in 2006.  I’m loving it, but somehow it’s really starting to show it’s age.  My backspace key is missing.  It’s got a few scratches.  And since it’s the primary machine that I use (right in front of my television) it would certainly make sense.  But that was with a 2006 mindset.  A lot has changed in the world.

I wrote about a year back about how excited I was that the industry was moving towards these small and inexpensive desktop experiences.  The newly coined ‘netbooks’ are getting old in the tooth according to some.  But I think they’re just about the most exciting thing in technology.  Why?  Well, for one, the conventional wisdom (if you spent time in a Best Buy or J&R Computer World here in Manhattan over the years) is that the smaller the laptop you seek, the more you’re going to pay.  It used to make sense.  (Smaller diodes, more careful manufacturing process, more expensive and hard-to-manufacture parts.)  But something about that logic never completely made sense to me.  So the netbook’s arrival as a major new tech category was a welcome trend.

The main reason why I’m so excited about the prospect of the netbook as a serious option is that it fits in with my life (and I would presume most consumer’s lives) perfectly.  I always get frustrated when people ask my about buying a laptop vs. a desktop.  People never consider the higher cost and lower performance that you’ll get in comparison to the actual amount of times that the machine will actually be moved.  I’m the ‘computer fix-it guy’ for a lot of my friends and some acquaintances and I’ll tell you – they get strange looks from me when they approach me with a Dell Inspiron and complain that it’s ‘making a noise’.  (Probably just the hard drive, but if it isn’t, they’re SOL for sure.)  For the majority of folks that I consult, a netbook is a wonderfully elegant solution for so many reasons:

Continue reading ‘So About These MacBook Announcements…’

01
Jul
08

I Dream of Kindle

Kindle I remember being a bit cynical last winter when Amazon announced their “revolutionary device” that would change the game.  As a tech enthusiast, I’m probably one of the folks that they should hope gets excited about this.  Then again, I’m not a big reader, so perhaps I’m not quite in the center of their bulls-eye.  When I first laid eyes on the Kindle, my exact thought was, “you’ve got to be kidding me”.  It really doesn’t say “2008”.  I’d argue that the Sony eBook Reader is a bit more sexy than a device where about a quarter of the precious real estate on the front of the device is dedicated to a physical keyboard.  (I know, I know – version 1.0).

Being the resident techie in most of my circles, it wasn’t long before the questions started… “what do you think about that new Amazon book thingy?”  “So when are you getting a Kindle?”  My answers were always pretty smug.  Don’t get me wrong.  I understood what Amazon was trying to do.  However, I thought they could have spent a little bit more time designing something that was lust-worthy instead of a device that looks like it was designed in 2000.

Time passed… and I had forgotten about the Kindle.  Regardless of how many times I’d go to Amazon.com and see the thing staring me in the face, my eyes would move somewhere else. 

But then a funny thing happened.  I stopped thinking about the design, and started thinking about the usability.

The time that I spent not paying attention to the Kindle caused me to miss out on the key selling points.  I would pick up random features listing to Leo Laporte’s TwiT podcasts.  And the more that I’d hear, the less cynical I got about the device…

Recently, (and I can’t quite explain how I’ve arrived at this…longing) I’ve been thinking a lot about the Kindle.  I don’t know if an Amazon guy spiked my iced tea or if they flashed a subliminal message while I was reading reviews on iPhone cases.  How it happened doesn’t really matter.  The fact is that I’m starting to see the advantages.  And I want in.

So what’s the big deal?

  • I carry around two copies of the Holy Bible.  (Please don’t judge – sometimes I’ll need to reference the King James version and other times I just want to get closer to the intent via my Student Edition of the New International Version).  By no means is it a heavy burden.  But there might be a more elegant solution.  Perhaps there’s a way to keep that and several other versions of the scripture by my side.  Not to mention the hymn book that I’d like to carry, but because it’s rather big I always leave at home.  Yes, this could be the answer…and for several reasons…
  • The Kindle is searchable.  Rather than wonder where in the book a character was introduced or when a certain thought was uttered, you can simply search through the text.  (How nicely that works is another matter altogether.)
  • The Kindle is online.  Via EVDO (i.e. fast 3G speed Internet Access).  And it’s free.  (Well, you pay for the device, but they’ve committed to free online access.  Never before have I seen that kind of commitment to just giving away 3G access.  This is the stuff Verizon makes you pay $59 bucks a month for.  And yes, it’s only useful on the Kindle, but that’s not a tremendous limitation because…
  • The Kindle has a built-in web browser.  OK, so I’ve heard that it’s so poor in displaying data and rendering pages that they might as well not have included it.  But this might be enough for me.  Many times when I’m traveling home on the bus or to work, I’d like to just pull down a full page of Engadget.com and just peruse the stories.  Nothing sexy.  Just stored.  Not sure if this is going to allow me to do that, but it might be better than the iPhone experience that I have now.  Most of the time, Safari will crash as I’m scrolling through a page like Engadget.  Also, until I get a 3G phone, it’s just a bit slow.  I don’t need a great web experience.  I just want to stay up to date while I’m driving.

Continue reading ‘I Dream of Kindle’

25
Feb
08

Phil Harrison….GONE from Sony? Wow.

Engadget is reporting that Sony Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Phil Harrison is…well, gone. And not a week after the Game Developer’s conference, where he apparently said some ‘not so nice’ words about Sony’s Senior Management and their inability to respond to what he felt was an obvious trend of more mass market gaming. During his tenure, Sony showed signs of coming around with things like Home, PlayStation Eye and future potential of the device, Buzz (the buzz-in four player game) and, his big achievement, SingStar (sort of a souped-up Karaoke that’s way more popular around the world than it is here in the U.S.) Wow. I guess the less learned is, “don’t throw your boss under the bus.” But perhaps the frustration he expressed about Sony not being responsive to the mass market trend in the way that Nintendo has been came after the decision to leave. Or not. Regardless, I don’t think is exactly great for Sony.

Gaming culture is so strange to outsiders — I was talking to a friend of mine on the way home about this. She kind of looked at me and tilted her head to the side.

“Why is it such a big deal that an executive leaves the company? Does that, like, lessen the value of your PlayStation 3 any?”

“Well, no — but see, each of the gaming companies have these ‘hype men’. They make you feel good about owning your system. They speak directly to the concerns of the constituency. For Sony folks, he was kinda that guy….

“I still don’t get it.”

And she’s not alone. Honestly, I kinda don’t understand why it should mean that much to us either — but it does. Because consoles have this need to continuously make you feel good about what you’ve bought….and then sell you on the future direction of the box, this not only has to depress some Sony folks, but it outright has to concern some. Losing Phil is big because he was outspoken. Sometimes you need a guy to just give it to you as straight as he possibly can, coming just short of violating any SEC rules. And Phil was that guy for the PlayStation. Quite honestly, over the years he was the only guy. Kaz Hirai comes out, but he can bore you to tears with all of the business speak. Even though he can laugh at his “Riiiidge Racer!” comment made at the announcement of the PS3, he still is the “business guy”.

Funny thing, but Microsoft is kinda going through this same thing. When Peter Moore resigned from Microsoft and went on to work at EA, it was (and is) a big blow. Peter is incredibly charismatic. He’s a real guy. He has that unique quality of being able to speak to the concerns of gamers and the stockholders. Peter was an even better mouthpiece than was Phil. Phil was more of a cocky guy. For one, he’s about six feet nine and he walks around and talks with this unbelievable confidence. (Read: cocky). You just get the feeling when hearing the guy that he’s not going to be anywhere near a loser. Sure it’s a total fanboy sentiment, but when you’re dealing with technology that you’re going to have to live with for the next few years, you wanna hear occasionally from somebody who makes you feel comfortable about your purchase.

Regardless of the ‘fanboy’ sentimental feelings around the guy leaving, this can’t make Sony fans feel comfortable. Or stockholders for that matter. Why is a guy who is as entrenched as Phil Harrison leaving Sony? And could it have anything at all to do with lack of confidence about the future direction of the platform? How about poor progress with PlayStation Home? And speaking of Home, who are they gonna stick out there at E3 to make me feel comfortable about the progress? It can’t be Kaz. Lord, please don’t let it be Kaz.

This is a very interesting development in gaming. It should be interesting to see who they get to step in as the front man for Sony. Someone who can really speak effectively and inspire and excite gamers. Wouldn’t it be funny if Peter Moore found himself somehow in the role? Stranger things have happened….

24
Feb
08

…And Why Exactly Do You Still Need that DVD/CD Drive Again?

I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the MacBook Air, but one thing I do appreciate — they left out the optical drive. The Air is way too expensive and the form factor is still too big for me (I need it smaller in dimensions and I’d be willing to sacrifice some of the “thinness” they felt was so important.) But the fact remains that leaving out the CD/DVD drive is a trend I certainly hope continues.

I often chuckle inside when working with older PC users who insist upon having a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive in the machine. When I show them a USB drive that fits on a keychain and mention the fact that one keydrive can hold over a thousand floppies of info, they seem completely disinterested. They want their old tech. Like their bank books and their china closets, they want what’s familiar to them. But upon hearing the response that the tech community had to the absence of the CD/DVD drive in the MacBook Air and the simultaneous praise of the Lenovo X300 because of it’s inclusion of one, I had to shake my head in discouragement.

Why are we still attached to these old, familiar ways of doing things??

It’s completely not lost on me that it’s convenient (particularly in business) to have the ability to drop a CD or a DVD into the machine. I’m sure there are tons of situations where an optical drive saved the day. Perhaps they’re handing you a contract and they only have it on a CD. Maybe you need to install drivers. But when you really think about the possible reasons and then consider the fact that we have the web, I just don’t understand the attachment.

The primary need for a CD/DVD drive is to install applications. But how often are we installing applications?? And particularly in this day and age of application releases being done through the web, do we really need these drives on the road? Even the iPod shuffle doesn’t come with a CD, and with that device you need iTunes to get the benefit! (Not sure — perhaps they put iTunes on the iPod?) Regardless, I just don’t see this immense need to install applications all the time. What are all these apps? I need to meet these people who are doing so many installations. Continue reading ‘…And Why Exactly Do You Still Need that DVD/CD Drive Again?’