Archive for the ‘Just the Techno Please’ Category

iPad, great for a guy like me

by bk

My wonderful, amazing, and generous wife decided, with our 8th anniversary days away that she had an opportunity at a home run gift and swung for the fences. I fully expected to wait a month or two before going for it and drooling over others’ iPads till then. Well, it’s definitely a home run for a guy like me and for my family. Will it be for you? Only you know. What are you doing now? What are you reading this on?

After several hours with my iPad, the first time I had to use my iPhone for something, I felt how my world had shifted. The iPad had put the iPhone in it’s place, my pocket for when I’m out and about. The iPhone is great mobile device but for me, it’s use was way beyond that. I used mine every day for hours on the couch, in the *ahem* facilities, out in the backyard. I work at home but don’t always want to be tied to my desk. My iphone provided a rich enough experience that given the choice between 21′ iMac, Lenovo laptop, and my iPhone, I routinely chose my iPhone and it’s 2′ screen.

Most nights on the couch next to me, my aforementioned, wonderful, generous, beautiful wife is checking email, playing games, and counting stitches on her iPhone for an hour or two while we watch tv. Work and pc left at the office while she gets to relax around the house. My son regularly chooses the iPhone over the iMac because it’s easier, more intuitive, and in the living room.

As a family we were primed and ready for the iPad and it has not disappointed. I continue to roam the house but instead of reading the news on a postage stamp, it kinda feels that way now, I’ve got a perfect magazine size display that allows me enjoy Peter King’s column on like I folded over the cover on real magazine instead of squeezing and flipping to make the best use of the iPhone screen. When I want to share something with my wife while on the couch, I hand her the iPad and she doesn’t have to squint and squeeze to see what I’m trying to share. It’s there, bright and clear. Been meaning to discuss those window treatments? No need for her to stand over my shoulder while I navigate the choices on the iMac in the office, hand over the iPad like you are handing over a catalog and away she goes.. “Let me know when you settle on something, hun.”

My boy is still calling it a big iPhone but as much as anything that means he knew how to use it already. He’s been using the iPhone for a couple of years already, is comfortable with it and enjoys it. So he was right on it, playing games and having fun.

It really is a new category and I think a lot of people are have trouble getting their heads around that. Is it gonna replace your MacBook? Not, if you’re doing serious stuff like photoshop when you travel. If you want to get under the hood and tinker, this isn’t the device for that either. It’s for the masses. Those that want the car to take their car out on the open road, not sit at home and work on the brakes. It’s a home mobile, consumer device and I’m a home mobile consumer so it works great for me and for my family. I still am very happy for my iPhone when I’m out. It’s a true mobile device, designed and built for my pocket. And when, I’m home that’s where it stays while I use my iPad and it’s vibrant HD screen wherever in my home I want to.

FYI this post was written entirely with the onscreen keyboard while lying in bed in the dark. When safari had problems with the word press admin site, I downloaded the free app, in about a minute, found it was already optimized for the iPad and was able to get right in and create my post so while I wouldn’t say it’s a work device, one can definitely get a lot done with it. Also in the hour or so I’ve working I’ve watched the power meter run ever so slowly down from 20% to 11% after a long day of use. Slowly and consistently so I’ve never felt that laptop power-noia that the battery indicator will suddenly go from from 43% to 0% while composing a long email.

iPhone 2.0: What’s to complain about?

by db

If you’re in the wireless business or just plain enjoy watching a master at his craft, I highly recommend checking out the ringmaster himself, Steve Jobs, lead another fine keynote at WWDC. This was, as per usual, a perfectly executed event and absolutely chock-full of truly impressive work on behalf of Apple and the iPhone team. It’s truly saying something about the iPhone that so much is happening on that platform that any data related to Apple’s next major OS release, dubbed “Snow Leopard,” (you know, the software that runs Mac computers), had to be pushed off the agenda entirely.

There’s more than enough fetishistic coverage of how great the new iPhone software and device will be so, instead, I’m going to reserve my comments for the hidden gems of the announcement, the elements that I don’t think got quite the coverage they deserved:
– Exchange compatibility: This was foreshadowed in last year’s announcement, but it deserves repeating. The iPhone Exchange integration looks, to use an abused term when it comes to Apple, seamless. Everything from the set-up to the execution (calendar, contact, email sync) appears to be better than any execution on a Windows Mobile device. Leave it to Apple to take a quality MS product (Exchange) and execute better than MS ever would on a mobile device. It cannot be said enough how much this enhancement breaks open the world of enterprise for Apple. Exchange is a given in most major corporations. There’s no email, therefore, much less remote access to it without support for ActiveSync. With it, Apple gains a foothold in the enterprise environment that has eluded it for decades.

– MobileMe: As a long-time .mac user, I have been frustrated by how piss-poor, frankly, the Web-based components of the service were, especially Email. As my wife put it correctly, “You know what would be nice on .mac? If it just worked. Seriously.” And that’s the gods-honest truth. .Mac Web-mail was long-since passed by, in terms of quality and innovation, from the likes of Yahoo! and Google. With MobileMe, which will be offered to all current .mac subscribers, it appears someone in Cupertino got the message. Further, MobileMe fills a nice hole for anyone who doesn’t have an Exchange server in offering the same push/sync experience. Nicely played, Apple.

– GPS: In all the hubbub around an iPhone finally having a 3G radio, the on-board, and well-supported (via software) GPS, seemed to get short-shrift. GPS support, while spreading through smart-devices and cheaper feature phones, is increasingly taken for granted, but what’s missed in all of the talk around GPS is any discussion of the software. Sure, you can easily find a smart-device that has on-board GPS and the carrier might have even made it relatively easy to turn on, but what matters is how you use the GPS. Most of the GPS app’s that are available for free (Google, Yahoo among them) fail in comparison to true turn-by-turn directions and, for that, you have to pay a hefty monthly fee (AT&T navigator, VZW navigator, Garmin). And, let’s face it, turn-by-turn is what you really want. You don’t want to know generally where you are, you want to be told in a rather serious-sounding voice to “Turn left in one mile.” Further, you may want to know what to do in the area, find the best burger within a half mile. Without the help of GPS (technically A-GPS, but you don’t care about the details), the iPhone directions and maps were one of the best out there, enabling users to easily search, find out traffic status, and map usable directions. With GPS, I can only imagine it’s going to be that much better.

So, all in all, there just isn’t much to complain about with the new iPhone, based on what Steve presented. And, against the competition’s offerings where there’s just so much to complain about right out of the gate, that’s saying something.

And now a moment for MacWorld

by db

Yes, we occasionally talk about technology here at TheTechnocrat. Yesterday was a tough day for me to be on the road, as I not only missed a major primary (albeit a GOP one), an important Democratic debate, and a MacWorld Keynote. A straight flush of excuses to stay home in my book.

So, MacWorld came and went as I was on a plane headed west. Here’s what I like/love/and not so much:
– Love the new MacBook. I’m not currently shopping for a portable, but the amount of time I travel, and haul around a very heavy roller bag with my MacBook Pro and it’s myriad of bits and pieces, makes the MacBook Air the ideal choice the next time I ante up
– Like the new Apple TV, but love the fact they enabled the new movie rental capability for the first gen Apple TVs (like the one I own)
– Not so much on the for pay upgrade for iPod Touch owners. What’s up with that? Are those supposed “enhancements” worth $20? My prediction: That gambit will fail and Apple will run away from similarly silly for-pay mini-upgrades moving forward
– Love and think is brilliant: Apple doubling down on AirPort, which was greying and despite the elegance of its software falling behind it’s Wi-Fi competition, and adding strorage in its AirCapsule. That, frankly, makes the best element of Leopard, Time Machine, sing, and, combined especially with a low-memory portable like MacBook Air, makes it a no-brainer add-on. Nicely done, Apple

All in all, I would give the show’s announcements a solid B. Not every MacWorld can rock the world with a half dozen entirely new products. Sometimes they just innovate to maintain Apple’s lead as the industry’s braintrust. This would be one of those shows.

Chocolate vs. the iPhone? Really?

by db

This is going to be one of those patented only-the-people-in-the-biz-give-a-damn columns so if you don’t care about wireless carriers, the industry or rather pedantic arguments that take place within it, I suggest you move on. I’ll be sure to post something slightly more relevant to the wider world shortly.

Last week, VZW put out a release marking the sales of its LG “Chocolate” slider phone in the 3.4m and above category. Some press, including RCR News suggest this represents some sort of slap at Apple’s stated goal, apparently surpassed, of selling 1 million iPhone’s.

To break that down, VZW sells 3.4m Chocolate phones over a year that range in price from $49 to $129 and Apple sells 1 million iPhones that have ranged in price, sadly for some of us in the early adopter club, from $600 to $400 in 74 days. Putting sales metrics aside for a moment, however, one has to take a close look at the segments in which both devices compete. Each makes and receives voice calls, sends and receives text messages, and can, technically, play music. There, the comparisons end. Whatever its merits or faults, the iPhone is undoubtedly a smart phone. By price, design (external and UI), and capability, it is a device squarely targeted at a user planning to do more than make calls home to ask Mom to pick one up at the mall. There are few devices in the smart phone category that have sold as quickly as the iPhone has.

If VZW really wanted to, ahem, compare apples to apples, they should release the number of music purchases made on the Chocolate by its users. Given Apple only recently got around to announcing plans for mobile iTunes purchase on the iPhone, that number would truly put down the gang in Cupertino.

The Keypad… It Could be an Issue

So, at&t tells me. With the white-hot coverage heating up, I find myself coming back to the essentials and top on that list: the keyboard. Of all the question marks about the “god device,” and there are many (no MMS, no 3G, no third-party applications), the on-screen keypad is the biggest bogey. The NYTimes offered a number of perspectives, but implies that, if anyone could do it right, it would be our friends in Cupertino. Of that, I have no doubt, but Cupertino has been wrong before and, yes, under Mr. Jobs’ current stint of leadership. (Anyone remember the cube?)

Why does the keyboard matter? Well, let me count the ways in an average day and most of it have to do with multi-tasking. The classic and penultimate example: Dialing in the car. Everyone says they don’t drive one-handed, but that’s right up there with accurately detailing clothing donations on your tax returns. Everyone does it and an increasing number do much worse: Text and email while driving. While we would all do better without the last subset of mobile usage, there’s no denying the common, everyday need to pick up your phone and dial without looking. That simple, necessary, requirement of cellular’s enduring “killer app,” voice calls, will determine how high the return rate on the iPhone is and whether I will be a happy iPhone buyer or not.

The Technocrat… All Up in Your Mobile

Well, mobile-web friendly, at least. With a tip of the hat to developer Alex King, this site is now automatically converted and accessible via any mobile browser. Very slick.