Saturday, 26 March 2011

iPad

So, I've finally taken the plunge and purchased an internet tablet. Surprisingly it's ended up being the first generation iPad.

I'd been waiting for the iPad2 announcement from Apple and the Motorola Xoom to arrive on market before making a decision on what tablet to buy. I was really expecting the Xoom wifi to hit the market at around the £400 mark, undercutting the iPad. I was wrong, Motorola went and priced themselves out of the market at a whopping £500. Then the big bombshell hit, as Apple announced the iPad 2 and in doing so they also announced that they were cutting £100 from the price of the iPad. Suddenly the iPad was well below the price I was willing to pay and very desirable.


I had a couple of things to overcome before coughing up the money for the pad. Firstly is the fact that I've invested in the Google and Android way of doing things. I've spent a bit of cash on Android apps and most of my online life is spent using Google services. I have blogger, gmail, picasa, docs, reader etc. as my "web apps". Then I have things purchased on Android that I'd loathe purchasing again on iOS. Doing some research calmed my nerves and I decided that things would be pretty compatible.
The other thing putting me off was iTunes. Now to say I'm not a fan would be an understatement. iTunes for me has traditionally caused me problems on my PCs over the years. Before I eventually vowed to never install it again. So after some thinking and speaking to Kie and Gro, I decided that iTunes shouldn't cause me so much anguish.

So with these niggles overcome, I decided that it made sense to have an iOS device in order to have some knowledge of that platform.

So in my hands right now is my first generation iPad wifi 16GB. I must admit that it's a cracking piece of kit. It's very portable and easy to use, thus far totally replacing my laptop. I've even written this blog post using the pad.



Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sky+ HD

After hearing that Formula 1 would be broadcast in HD this season I decided to bite the bullet and get Sky+ HD. I must point out that the experience of ordering and having Sky+ HD installed was excellent. I ordered on the Friday and I was watching HD content on Tuesday morning. On a slightly unhappy note, I think that the extra £10 per month is an outrage and has been the main reason I've not upgraded to HD before now. The things I do for F1! :)

Of all the content I've watched on the Sky box since I've had it installed, football seems to be the most improved. I've personally always found footie to be hard to watch on TV up until now. Never really having a clue who was kicking the ball at one time. HD is totally different, you can read the names on the shirt, see facial expressions from distance and even tell what pattern and texture the football shirts consist of. I really can't wait to see this kind of stuff in motorsport and Formula 1 in particular. I'm really anticipating some amazing content, I think crashes will look spectacular.

Other than the much improved picture from the Sky+ HD box, the actual "plus" features of the box are great too. Recording individual programs, entire series, pausing live TV and accessing the "anytime" content makes TV viewing much more enjoyable. It's something that I never really ever wanted too much, but already I've series linked quite a few shows. My problems has always been that I find it inconvenient to watch TV at specified times. Watching it when I want has allowed me to do what I want and not worry about missing an episode of my favorite program.

With my 40" LED TV, Sky+ HD, amp and speakers at the ready, I really can't wait to experience F1 in HD when they arrive in Bahrain in March!!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

a little bit of posting

I've been asked by a couple of my friends (namely kie and gro) to join them in the post-a-day/post-a-week challenge, which is going on over on Wordpress throughout 2011. The idea of the challenge is to get people into the habit of posting to their blogs more often. So with a little consideration and although being a user of Blogger, I've decided to take up the challenge for the remainder of 2011.

In order to be creative enough to write something weekly, I've started taking notes down as and when in the Catch app on my HTC Desire. The post-a-week challenge makes mention of the dailypost blog to give inspiration, so I've subscribed to dailypost using Google Reader. Hopefully the combination of Catch and dailypost will help me to create some interesting reads. Although, it'll probably be the boring drivel I talk about as usual. ;)

So wish me luck (gl me) and I'll post again within a week!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Terrible Roads

I'm beginning to get a little frustrated with the state of the roads in Coventry on my daily commute to work. There seems to be new pot holes springing up on a weekly basis with no reparations done at all. Many of the roads are in such a state that they need to be totally resurfaced.

All too common
The thing is, the comparatively poor town that I live in has great roads to drive on. With what pot holes there are being filled quite quickly. So my commute is half filled with nice smooth driving and the other half with a bumpy ride while having to avoid obstacles.

In all honesty the roads in Coventry are easily as bad as the roads I've seen on my travels in eastern Europe. Perhaps worse.

To get around this I've been try to change my route to work. However nearly every route I try is either comparable or worse than the route I already take. I did manage to change the route a little in the end, sticking to an A road which adds a couple of miles onto my journey.

I'm guessing that Coventry council prefer to spend my road tax on the hundreds of speed cameras than on maintaining the roads. A strategy of making roads undriveable to reduce speed I think! Perhaps they'll fix the roads when they realise that they're getting no income from the cameras :)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

My Tech Hopes for 2011

Happy new year everyone. With the new year I've been thinking about what tech I'd like to see in the coming months. Here are the top three on my wish list.

Android Tablets
I'm hoping that early this year we see Android become a lot more friendlier to the tablet form factor. There are a few stumbling blocks at the moment, the biggest for me so far has been the price of these tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab
For example I loved the look of the Samsung Galaxy Tab and I really wanted one, but with the cost so high I just couldn't warrant buying one. The Android OS is not really ready for the larger form factor yet, I think this is why manufacturers have kept the android tablets quite small so far. Finally the apps, which are not yet ready to cover the larger screens of tablets, both in terms of screen resolution and of functionality.

So the future? From what I hear Google are working to make the next version of Android (Honeycomb), tablet friendly. What I hope to see from this is a better GUI and have the Market distinguish between phone apps and tablet apps, so that people aren't installing stuff that looks terrible on the larger screen.

I'd like to see manufacturers remove the "phone" part from these tablets. I don't want a huge phone, I want a device to browse the internet via wireless and have the option to buy a 3G version. I'd like to see more tablets with the same screen size as the iPad, I think that Apple got the size of the iPad just right.

I hope they make the price point right, in my opinion it needs to be in the region of netbooks and in competition with the iPad prices. I think most people will accept paying in the region of £300 - £400 for a tablet.

Android Market
The New Android Market
I think all Android users know that their Market is lacking vs Apple's App Store. Although nice improvements have been made in the last month or so. They've overhauled the Market app with a new GUI and introduced long descriptions for apps, related apps and more pictures of each app. The problem that we have is that all of this is only avalaible on the device. There is no way for us to browse and choose an app to install from our PCs.

I'm really hoping that Google push hard to introduce an Android Market that is accessible via the web browser. They've been talking about it since the last Google IO conference but it's yet to make an appearance.

With a browser accessible Android Market I hope to be able to find apps much easier. When I look at an apps details, see higher resolution pictures and You Tube videos. Then have the ability to push the app to my phone via the data connection like how Chrome to phone works.
I think with a better Android Market it will get more developers on board with Android. After all developers want you to install / buy their apps. Making it easier to find and view apps before installing / purchasing is in everyone's best interests.

Internet TV
I'd like to see more TV channels and movie rentals start to move over to the internet platform, delivering on demand content over broadband. I think that the three main options that will be available to people are Apple TV, Google TV and Boxee. Not sure which will end up being best of the three devices, but so long as you're getting the content from a website / service provider it shouldn't matter which device you choose.

Boxee Box
I already have Boxee and its really great to use, although a bit limited right now. Streaming content from the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4 on demand directly to the TV is really nice. You can track what content you've already watched and subscribe to channels to be updated when new content is available. What Boxee is missing at the moment is the likes of LoveFilm in order to rent or buy films and play them instantly over the internet.

The other alternative for internet TV is games consoles. The Xbox 360 already has an on demand movie rental service and access to Sky Player. The Playstation 3 has the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and LoveFilm. Could consoles be the gateway to internet TV?