ios

Very Quick Hardware Reviews

by Michael Alderete on 2/22/2013 · 2 comments

Since the last time I updated my hardware recommendations I’ve purchased:

  • An iPhone 5
  • An iPod Touch, 5th generation (first with Lightening connector)
  • An iPod Nano, 7th generation (first with Lightening connector)
  • A Nexus 4 (yes, I’m giving Android a serious look)

I’m going to be updating my hardware recommendations soon, but in the meantime, here’s some quick thoughts.

  1. I don’t get the new Nano. It’s very nice, and it would have been a great way to go before the tiny square 5-6th generation Nano, but it’s…I dunno. I don’t get it. The tiny square Nano was perfect for clipping on for workouts, very capable. The new one is a little more functionality, but also bigger. If you’re going bigger, why not go all the way and get an iPhone or iPod Touch, and have a real touch device, that can run apps and everything that comes with that?

  2. In fact, I don’t get the entire iPod line. I would have dropped the Shuffle, made the square Nano (upgraded to Lightening) cheaper to fill that spot in the line, and upgraded the iPod Touch to the new version, but keeping the old screen size. Make the taller screen an iPhone 5 exclusive, while keeping the iPod line more affordable.

  3. I definitely would have discontinued the old iPod Touch product. Leaving that on the market is just confusing.

  4. All that said, the new Nano and Touch are really nice devices. And the old iPod Touch is now a bargain way to get onto iOS. Just because the product line is confusing doesn’t mean the hardware isn’t nice.

  5. Still, I recommend the iPhone 5, because it is freakin’ awesome. Truly the best piece of computing hardware I’ve ever owned.

  6. The Nexus 4 is very nice, seems to run the Audible app pretty well (if not quite as smoothly as on the iPhone), and has a pretty broad range of other spoken word apps available. My favorite podcast app, Pocket Casts, is available for Android, and is even “Android first” (h/t Daring Fireball). My survey is far from complete, but it’s clear that as far as spoken word entertainment goes, Android is at least very good, and has no gaps.

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iPads 1, 2, 3

by Michael Alderete on 4/13/2012 · 0 comments

So I bought a first-generation iPad, Rochelle got an iPad 2 as a “spousal patience” present, and we both got “the new iPad (3rd generation)” when it came out in March.

Obviously if we’re still buying them, we must like them. But, how about some details? What do we use them for? Why is the iPad useful, or cool? Here are a few thoughts, in no particular order:

  • The retina display is amazing. Truly spectacular. Once you’ve used it, you will find it hard to go back to any other screen. Indeed, I used my original iPad less and less as I got more used to the retina display on my iPhone 4. I am already reading far more than I have in months, due to the crisp perfection of text on the screen. Both Apple’s iBooks and Amazon.com’s Kindle app are great for reading. When I can’t get DRM-free ebooks I tend to shop at Amazon.com first, simply for the selection, even though I probably prefer the UI for iBooks, marginally.

    It’s not just text that’s spectacular on the screen, either. I’ve…uh, checked out some of the comic book apps on the new screen, and it’s pretty much as good as holding a printed book. Spectacular. I’ve only used the Comics app from comiXology and the Dark Horse Comics app, but both have really delivered incredible on-screen quality.

  • The original iPad was really heavy, for a device you’re going to hold in a reading or viewing position for long stretches of time. Reading a book, watching a movie, browsing the web—all great “lean back” activities on the iPad, but the weight, it was a killer. The new iPad is a little heavier than the iPad 2, but quite a bit less weight than the original. It’s still not light enough, but it’s an improvement.

  • The new iPad does not get hot. No matter what you’ve read. It does get slightly warmer in a particular spot than the earlier models, but barely. You have to want to feel it to notice it.

  • The new iPad does indeed take almost twice as long to charge. On the one hand, the battery has almost twice the capacity, so this is not a surprise. On the other hand, it’s a genuine limitation, in that it becomes much more important to remember to plug it in to charge overnight if you’re planning on using it heavily the next day.

  • I used two iPads during March Madness, using the March Madness On Demand app to watch three games at once. Watching March Madness in my living room on the TV and two iPads The quality of the video, if not as good as my HDTV, was as good as my old standard definition TV set. Kind of amazing.

  • The Netflix app is even better than that. Damn near HDTV quality. The combination of Netflix streaming for under $10/month and an iPad may let you kiss a $100+/month cable bill goodbye. (We haven’t subscribed to cable in 4+ years.) That’ll pay for an iPad right there, in less than a year.

  • Rochelle is the master of replacing cable with iPad apps to watch her shows. Here’s a list to the apps she uses regularly:

    When we want to watch something that’s not available from those services (Justified, The Walking Dead), it’s not hard to justify renting or purchasing in the iTunes Store, given that we don’t spend anything on cable. Not available there, either? Patience is a virtue…we wait for it to be on Netflix’s regular old disc service.

So, nutshell, worth it? As an upgrade from the original iPad, absolutely. The first generation iPad was interesting, even compelling as a vision of the future of computing, but for most people, I think it was easy to say “I’m going to wait for the version where they work out the bugs”.

That wait is over. I don’t know what will come in future generations of the iPad, beyond more processing power and more storage, but this third-generation hardware is “fully baked”. The high definition screen delivers an experience that you do have to see and touch to fully appreciate, but once you do, you’ll want it, too.

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Been a bit of a brouhaha recently about the behavior of the iPhone’s ring/silent switch, kicked off by an article in the New York Times. John Gruber, Andy Ihnatko, and Marco Arment have weighed in, and covered most of the ground for and against, but here’s three specific thoughts I haven’t read elsewhere:

  1. The iPhone’s silent switch has behaved the way it does for 4½ years, and we’re only now having this conversation? Because some guy got a brand new iPhone and embarrassed himself at the symphony the same day? And people want to change the behavior because of one (well-publicized) incident of user error? Seriously?

    There’s no better indication that the behavior should remain the same than the fact that we’re only now discussing it.

  2. Flipping the ring/silent switch is a casual act. You can do it without looking at your phone. You can do it without even taking it out of your pocket. You can do it unintentionally, digging something out of that same pocket.

    Setting an alarm is a deliberate act. I defy anyone to do it while their iPhone is still in their pocket. I defy anyone to do it accidentally. If you forget you have an alarm set after going through the process of setting it, and get embarrassed at the symphony, shame on you.

  3. If you think the ring/silent switch should override an alarm you have set, causing it to not make sound, there’s an easy way to do that: don’t use the built-in Clock app. Many third-party alarm apps respect the ring/silent switch. I like Night Stand. It’s pretty, and when silent mode is enabled, it vibrates but doesn’t ring. Solve your problem for 99¢ and move on.

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“Just a Big iPod Touch”

by Michael Alderete on 12/21/2010 · 5 comments

When the iPad debuted, the witticism was that it was “just a big iPod touch.” This week Motorola echoed this by saying it’s “like a giant iPhone.”

This is about as stupid as saying a swimming pool is like a giant bathtub.

Read the rest of this entry (243 words) »

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