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Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Totally Not Cool

In General on June 14, 2008 at 12:13:33 am

This is not cool. Click here to read.

I’m thinking of moving to Sweden, especially if any other bills get passed. I’m all for artist’s rights, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help thinking that we’re moving more towards a police state here. The biggest problem is that the bill now doesn’t allow an archive of TV shows or webcasts, digital or otherwise. Diggnation is available for download and archive. Is it OK for me to keep a massive archive of Diggnation? How about podcasts? How about my backups? Oh, apparently we’re also only allowed to make one copy of a CD to a digital device (computer, iPod, etc.). But only one. So, am I allowed to keep it on my computer, and each of my 2 iPods? I bought my music – I should be allowed to listen to it any time I want.

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Followup: Regarding Leon’s Comment

In Apple, Followup, iPhone, Personal on June 14, 2008 at 12:05:31 am

My previous post about the iPhone 3G generated a staggering reply from a certain “leon”. He sounds pretty cool. Here’s his take on what I said:

Disclosure: I own the original iPhone and live in the USA.

Regarding the plastic back: read some of the reports from non-fanboys at the Apple WWDC conference. Most are in agreement that the look of the iPhone is *not* a step backward and it in fact feels better in the hand due to the thinner edges. Also, the current aluminum back has a tendency to get dented when the iPhone is dropped. The dents don’t cause failure, but they look UGLY. The plastic is a step forward in my mind and likely helped them cut some weight. To each his own.

Yes, the now $10 more data rate is a drag. Now the data rate is the same as for AT&T’s other smart phones… before we were getting a deal. Luckily, because there will no longer be “special” iPhone rates people will again be able to get discounts through their employer. In my case that means about 10% off a month, recouping much of that $10. Unfortunately, AT&T is including ZERO text messages in the base plan! That sucks. But I’m not sure why you can say the pricing is “obscene”. It is the exact same pricing as all AT&T smartphones. Identical. There is nothing iPhone-specific about it.

Don’t EVER expect to get good photos from a cell phone, no matter who made it and how many megapixels it has. The lens is just too damn small. There is a reason that even the smaller standalone cameras (like Canon ELPHs, for instance) are not as small as cell phones. You need more than a simple, cheap, molded plastic lens to get a good photo. Bumping resolution up from 2 megapixels will do nothing. Zero. The actual optical resolution of the lens itself (not the resolution of the digital sensor) is just too poor. Adding pixels to the sensor will do several bad things: (a) decrease battery life, (b) increase image noise, (c) use more storage space for each photo, (d) slow down in-camera processing of images, etc., etc.. Meanwhile, the images will not be a better quality because the lenses used are crap. It is a lose-lose. The camera manufacturers have been pushing the pixel count up to very high numbers for very poor cameras in order to get people to keep buying new gear. Usually a more modest pixel count is more advantageous for almost all reasons… something like 4-6 megapixels is probably best for point-and-shoot cameras. 8+ megapixel point-and-shoots are a bad idea, but consumers are easily tricked by marketing. I guarantee you that the 10-MP Samsung phone camera’s photos are junk, and probably only contain about as much image quality as a 2-4 MP phonecam at best (unless the phone is big and bulky like a real camera, of course). (Disclosure: I have a PhD in Physics/Optics and am working designing lenses at the moment)

Anyway, iPhone 1 and iPhone 2 are both obviously big profit items for Apple. Hell, they skewered all of the early adopters by drastically cutting the price last year. I don’t think anything changed in that regard between v1 and v2. The decreased up-front cost and increased monthly cost practically balance over the 2-year plan… and hell, seems like everyone upgrades about that often these days. With my work discount, the new phone/plan will be cheaper for more like 3 years.

Perhaps you think the new phone has lost its wow. I, for one, don’t see that. The price is *similar* over two years (yeah, $40 more, really). It’s faster. Has GPS. Has more storage. Not a quantum leap better or different, but the original works so well I don’t see that they needed to go for “shock and awe” with this one. If you don’t like the new look, then that is the one big negative. But hey, no dents!

I’d really love a 32 GB version, will just have to wait for that. In any case, it is definitely a luxury item and each person should decide whether it is right for them. Me: I love mine and may upgrade if I decide I really want GPS. I am very eager for the new application store to open. There are lots of great apps in the pipeline.

But here’s the real story, here’s where I think Apple blew it from the beginning… I’d have really loved for them to NOT partner up with a telco, sold the device at a reasonable, unsubsudized price ($400ish, probably), and just sold completely unlocked phones for any carrier. That would’ve REALLY shook up the industry and been a boon for consumers. Instead, it’s more of the same anti-consumer, cell company tactics. Boo.

(FYI: I ran across your post on the front page of WordPress.com)

Take care.

Firstly, thanks for reading and commenting.

The reason I was a fan of the metal backing was due to its theoretical durability. While it may get dents if it gets dropped, plastic will get scratched and fingerprinted. If I’m holding the back of this device all the time, it’s going to get a staggering amount of fingerprints on it, and it will get scratched far more easily. Presumably, they’ll be using similar plastic to the iPod 5th generation. I own one of those, and I put a case on it immediately. While that may be fine for an iPod, I really think that I shouldn’t have to put a case on anything. With intelligent product design, they should be durable enough. Thankfully, Apple was thinking when it made the screen out of glass, because it’s extremely resistant to large, deep scratches. My iPod Touch has 0 visible scratches on the screen.

Regarding the pricing, I was hoping that it would stay roughly the same. Unfortunately, it has risen by $10 in the US, which is still an extra $120 per year. Granted, it doesn’t recoup the $200 price drop from the original iPhone. I can guarantee however, that because I live in Canada, I’m going to be gouged and beaten for the same plan. Okay, maybe it won’t be that drastic. However, I’m willing to bet a decent chunk of change that we will pay an extra $10 – $20 per month compared to what you pay in the US for a similar plan. That makes the pricing obscene, in my view.

I agree on the megapixel front, for the most part. I won’t try to argue with someone who has a PhD in the field, because that would be stupid on my part. However, I have seen some stunning photos emerge from Nokia’s N95 phone. Granted, I have seen some amazing photos come from the iPhone’s camera, but with just 2 megapixels, I wouldn’t be able to print them at any decent size. If they were to squeeze a few more megapixels in, I could get prints of those stunning photos, rather than just viewing them on a screen. This seems to be the reason I’m looking into an XTi. Actually, I’m looking into that because I can’t afford a 40D, but that’s another matter altogether.

I agree with you on the $400 unlocked iPhone idea, but I can see a big hurdle. Apple would have to give every carrier the tools needed to enable visual voicemail, and that would involve some contractual issues with AT&T. I’m sure that once their 5 year exclusivity deal runs out, Apple will be prostituting access to that visual voicemail network to any carrier that wants to adopt it. Which is nice, apart from the fact that we only have 1 carrier here in Canada that can support EDGE/3G.

One thing I forgot to include in my original post is that I think Apple missed an awesome business opportunity. They could have had the $200 iPhone (nano, Air, mini, micro, whatever), and had a $400 iPhone. But they’ve already given the $200 one so many great features, they now can’t split the lineup, because they’d have a lot of pissed off customers. It’s midnight though, and I’m not thinking clearly, so I might have to edit this in the morning with a much more coherent explanation.

Why I Won’t Be Buying an iPhone 3G

In Apple, Gadgets, iPhone, News, Observations, Tech on June 12, 2008 at 11:07:01 pm

On June 9th, 2008, at precisely 10:00 AM PST, the world of the bleeding edge technology enthusiasts tuned into their favourite gadget blog to watch the live updates from Steve Jobs’ keynote speech. In the months leading up to this day, these same people speculated on what new and revolutionary product would be unveiled on that very day. Those months were like Christmas Eve. Right up until the very last hour, rumours poured in as to what was being shown by Jobs. Most speculated that an all new iPhone would be revealed. It would be a revolution all over again. Then, after an hour of developers showing off their applications, it finally was shown for the very first time.

Have you ever had one of those Christmases where you scamper down the stairs filled with hope that you got a Playstation, a new iPod, or a new camera — then you do open up all the boxes and are disappointed that you got none of those things? That’s a bit what the unveiling of the new iPhone 3G was like.

Oh, sure, there have been numerous improvements over the old iPhone. Firstly, it’s now being sold where I live, which has to be the most important factor (obviously). Secondly, it now uses 3G cell technology, for high-speed data transfers on the cell network. They also offer a choice of colours on the 16 GB model, include GPS and have dropped the price tag of the device significantly. But there has to be a catch somewhere. Indeed, like everything else, there is.

The new iPhone is cheaper, and it feels that way. The back is now plastic, instead of aluminum. While that means that cell reception is better, it also makes the phone look far less like a luxury product. Interestingly, even though they offer a choice of colours, only the back gets painted, not the face. Which is dumb. Furthermore, the new iPhone 3G doesn’t come with a dock any more, still only comes in 8 GB and 16 GB sizes (there is no 32 GB size, even though there is a 32 GB iPod Touch) and the camera is still only 2 megapixels. Understandably, this phone isn’t designed to be a replacement for a Canon 40D. But for a company like Apple – which always tries to be on the cutting edge – 2 megapixels is hardly satisfactory. Currently, there are several phones with 4 and 5 megapixel sensors. In Japan, Samsung has a camera phone packing a whopping 10 megapixels.

The biggest insult, by far however, is the price. Yes, the iPhone 3G starts at $199 (for 8 GB), and a 16 GB model is available for $299. The pricing for the plans, however, is obscene.

Full disclosure, before I begin: pricing for Canadian plans hasn’t been released yet. Rogers is trying to build up suspense, or something.

The US plan pricing has been released just yesterday. It is apparently about $70 per month for the base plan, which includes 450 minutes, unlimited data, no texts, and 5000 evening/weekend minutes. Here in Canada, it’s safe to assume we’re going to be gypped. If we use the same method as the US idea (add $30 to any voice plan for unlimited data), we find that the same plan will only include 250 minutes, unlimited evenings and weekends, no texts and unlimited data. So, that $70 per month doesn’t go too far. Oh, you get unlimited evenings and weekends, but who will use more than 5000 of those minutes in a month anyway? And you get 200 less of the minutes people actually use.

The worst problem by far is the feel of it. The original iPhone was surrounded by a “wow” factor. You got the feeling that when Apple made it, it wasn’t just for the profits, but rather it was because it was something they genuinely wanted to make. It was unlike anything the world had seen before. It was alien, but that only added to the anticipation. It was one of the most hyped products in modern times, and for good reason. Every time I see someone carrying an iPhone here (unlocked, obviously), it has an immediate jealousy vibe. The new one doesn’t exude this to anywhere near the same degree. The iPhone 3G gives the immediate effect of profit over personality. It doesn’t tug at you the same way the original did.

To summarize (for the “tl;dr” crowd): the new iPhone allows for faster internet access in many municipal areas and has a cheaper initial price tag. It is now cheaper looking, more expensive in the long run, doesn’t have a better camera, doesn’t have a size above 16 GB, and most of all has lost all the original wow factor. Me? I’m going to be saving a little harder and will be buying a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. And maybe a Flip Miro video camera.

I really would like to post to Flickr immediately after taking a photo, however…

PS: If you liked this post, please Digg it!

Grad

In General on June 5, 2008 at 4:04:10 pm

So, I graduated today.

Yipee.

PS – My blog posts are turning into my Twitter posts.