Archive for January, 2008

As the world turns 2

NBC’s Zucker hints at return to iTunes? – Engadget

It hasn’t even been six months it’s been reported that NBC “may” return to iTunes. Things look bleak in Hollywood lately, the writers are on strike, that means no new shows or even movies this season so this news brings some small comfort to consumers. Could their shows have been torrented more when they left? Or was it the record earning announcement? In any case, I do hope that they resolve this soon.

Amazon to finally sell DRM free MP3 to the world

Amazon MP3 store to spread DRM-free love global in 2008 – Engadget

In what could be the biggest threat the Apple iTunes store could face is this announcement by Amazon to be able to sell music anywhere in the world DRM free. But how anywhere is anywhere?

One of the biggest flaws of the iTunes store in my opinion is the limited number of countries who have it. Basically it’s just the US, EU and Japan. Apparently other countries in Asia do not need a store where officials say piracy is rampant. The limited capacity of iTunes to sell music to other countries is based on the limited rights they have with the recording company. This resulted in the varied pricing models seen in EU which practically has separate iTunes stores per country.

Unfortunately the DRM imposed by the music labels on online merchants has caused the dominance of iTunes. They wanted music that is secure enough and one way to do that is to limit the hardware where the music can be played and embed security all over it. They thought it wouldn’t last. They were apparently wrong in their projections.

Now that they want a piece of the cake, Apple will not give in. There is no way that Apple was going to raise prices or even lower prices for songs. So they allowed Amazon now to sell DRM-free music. Just to get back at Apple. Childish.

Consumers hate complicated things. It just used to be a CD from the store that can play in any player. That is the model that Amazon is exploring with their online store. I love music. I buy my music legally. Sometimes it’s expensive but I take the effort to bring it in to my iPod. I buy from the iTunes store because I like it. I like the simplicity that I can buy music and sync it to my iPod. Or even better, buy music from my iPod and play it on my iPod right now.

These are things that consumers want. DRM free music is something that consumers want. But I still want it on my iPod.

Macworld 2008

Apple Introduces MacBook Air—The World’s Thinnest NotebookMacBook Air open.

The keynote has finally come and announcements have finally been made. Of course nothing could possibly top the iPhone anouncement last year so some people’s might be a little disappointed with the events in San Francisco.

Steve Jobs takes the stage and the world listens. So first off,

1. Time Capsule – Wireless backup device or so they say

There’s a lot that this device has to offer. Think of putting a terabyte of hard drive in an airport extreme base station and you get Time Capsule. The gigabyte ethernet connection should improve the remote backup system that Time Capsule promises but only for Leopard users.

If you’re on Leopard and you need a lot of backup and a wireless N router as well, the price is quite good.

2. iPhone and iPod Touch software Updates 1.1.3

The iPhone finally got some 21st century feature such as forwarding of sms messages and mutli-recipient sending capabilities. The iPod Touch however is a different story. Applications that were default on the iPhone are now “default” on the iPod Touch such as Mail, Stocks, Weather, Notes and Maps. The big catch is that it’ll cost early adapters (such as myself) TWENTY DOLLARS!. But it will be free on all new iPod Touch sold.

Now I’m a big fan and I liked Apple for not charging a whole lot for their software updates but this is crazy. Charging for something that should have been in the first place and screwing loyal fans who paid for the device when it first came out. I mean where’s the love Steve?!?! And what about regions where there is no local iTunes store such as every place in the world with the exception of Europe and Japan. Where are they going to get their updates? On a disc sold at the store?!? bad move in my opinion. While a jailbreaked iPod Touch does a whole lot more. Tsk tsk. We’ll wait and see on this one.

3. iTunes Movie Rentals and the Apple TV Take 2

Apple TV was admittedly a big flop for Apple and they’re trying again with the Take 2 version. The first version needed another computer where all the media is stored and purchased and is just played on the Apple TV. I guess most people with macs just bought either a 360 or a PS3 or any other device on the market and just pay $20 for software that will stream everything (except DRM content) to your TV.

The movie rentals is a big improvement and all of the major labels are involved. Obviously they need the money. The prices however are something else. It is cheaper than buying the movie outright but renting it is kinda iffy. The good thing about it is the HD content that is finally available in the store and the ability to purchase or rent movies and songs without having to go all the way to your computer.

Now how do I sync content that I buy off the Apple TV to my iTunes and iPods?

4. It’s lighter than air.

Apparently the big announcement of the day was the “ultra thin” macbook air. Hmm. It’s thin. It’s got stuff that the Macbook doesn’t but the price tag puts it waaay out of the hands of the regular consumer.

The good:
1. Thin
2. Backlit keyboard
3. Full features of OSX
4. $99 for an external superdrive is not so bad

The bad:
1. Pricey $1799 +++ (sure it’s cheaper than Japanese portables but it wont hold against those made in China)
2. One USB port (EEPC has four)
3. No Firewire (Why sell the option of FCP Express at the store when you can’t connect the camera)
4. No built in ethernet. (But you can buy an add on)

So will I get one? Wait and see as always. There’s still a lot that Apple needs to do about it and let all the bugs crawl out. The price has to go down though. It is very expensive. If it had all the firewire and USB ports that I need, then maybe it would warrant a purchase. But as of the moment. This is one expensive toy.

Will you buy a PS3 this year?

Sony cuts PlayStation 3 production cost in half – Engadget

Now I almost feel bad that I bought one last year for $499. Hmmm. Not! I will not predict a price drop anytime soon. It just puts the PS3 within finally making money. Boosted by it’s major coup against HD-DVD last week this could spur more blu-ray sales this year. With the release of AAA games (finally) such as MGS4 and Little Big Planet, things look a lot better for the gaming giant after trailing both the Wii and Xbox in the past year. Add the fact that the 20 and 60 GB versions in Japan will be discontinued as well.

The sweetest thing ever made

Fairground Food: Cotton Candy-Making Machine Gives You Sugar on a Stick in Three Minutes

This has to be the sweetest thing ever made, well it’ll probably wouldn’t hold with Macworld only a few hours away. Ok that was a cheap joke but you too can make your own cotton candy by just dropping in any candy and in three minutes just dip in a stick and swirl away!

CES 2008

Over in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Show is filled with news about the latest HD entertainment hardware for the masses. Let’s take a look at the major news so far.

Warner Brothers goes Blu-ray

In the current muddled world of highdef entertainment, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have been waging a format war similar to Beta and VHS. The WB has remained on the fence until this week announcing they will stop producing their films on HD-DVD this May and focus solely on Blu-Ray. This makes the Blu discs of Sony the only carriers of Disney, WB, Sony Pictures and Fox. The only holdouts left are NBC Universal, Paramount and Dreamworks. Shortly after the announcement, the HD-DVD group canceled their press conference and rumors came out that a clause in the HD-DVD deal with Paramount suggests that they too will switch to Blu Ray.

Well this format war seems shorter than expected which is good for consumers and a pain for early adopters (like me). We’ll see in the coming months the impact on hardware sales for both formats.

JVC shows off world’s thinnest LCD screen

At just 9mm thick, it is the world thinnest LCD display. Currently just for show and no signs yet of it being commercially available. Looks like it may work it’s way to outdoor advertising.

Next week will be a very exciting week in San Francisco where the mac faithful will converge at the Moscone Center for Macworld. Apple just announced upgrades for their Xserve and Mac Pro product line which may suggest that Steve Jobs’ keynote is really packed with stuff. Will the iPhone make it to Asia as he announced last year? Or will the much rumored “ultra-portable” make it’s debut? We’ll all know on January 15.

Powered by ScribeFire.