I am quite the iPhone enthusiast, but before I finally got the iPhone 3G, I was using a Sony Ericsson P1i. I loved that phone. It had a great camera, even though it was lower-res than my Nokia N95. The camera UI was quite user-friendly and a bit snappier than the N95′s. Once I figured out the hotkeys, it was easy to change settings on the fly without having to navigate an on-screen menu. The overall UIQ OS was a bit fussy, but there were many things I liked about it over S60 3rd-edition. I loved the unique keyboard on the device. I got really good at typing fast on it. I even really liked Opera Mobile and Opera Mini on the P1i. I almost upgraded to the K850i before I decided to go with the iPhone. IMO, Sony Ericsson does cameraphones just right. They basically shoehorned a Sony Cybershot camera into nice phones. And their Walkman line of phones use a great UI that’s very similar to the PSP/PS3 menus.
While I am eagerly anticipating the update to the iPhone 3G, and it’s highly likely that I will upgrade to it (if I can afford it), I am very, very intrigued by the Sony Ericsson Satio (though I’m not so enthused by the name):
I think I saw news about this phone when it was still called the Idou, but I hadn’t paid too close attention to it at the time. I’ve been bad about keeping up with tech news lately, and this, among other things, slipped by me. However, after I saw today’s news about the final name of Satio, I went looking up more info about it on Engadget Mobile and saw this video they did. Very cool idea behind the phone, merging the Cybershot and Walkman lines of phones together. I also love that it’s Sony’s great UI over Symbian S60. I haven’t been too impressed by Nokia’s half-assed implementation of touch S60, so I’m hoping that Sony did better.
Even though I think that the iPhone has a great combo of OS, UI, and App Store, I do miss using other phones sometimes. The Satio looks like a great gadgety phone with features that I would love. The Palm Pre looks great, but I really don’t want to switch to Sprint. I already switched from T-Mobile to AT&T when I got the 3G, and my contract hasn’t run out yet. Besides, I was on Sprint a long time ago (using a Nextel phone before it got popular and then annoying) and don’t want to go back. I know the Pre is going to be released on other carriers later, but it could be quite a long time before it’s available from AT&T, if ever. Anyway, the Satio just seems really interesting to me right now. I was disappointed when the P1i never got updated, and SE subsequently dumped UIQ. But the Satio seems like the natural successor to the line of smartphones that the P1i was a part of. I’m very eager to see how the Satio looks like in person. And I’m glad that even though there’s been some bad financial news with Sony Ericsson lately, they still seem like they’re working hard to release interesting phones, which is more than I can say for other phone manufacturers in the dumps.
Since I haven’t been blogging recently, many of you probably have forgotten that purple is my favorite color. Well, today I bought a cool case for my aluminum unibody Macbook that makes it into a purple gadget of sorts. It’s a two-piece case from Speck called the SeeThru Satin hard-shell case. It’s quite easy to install, just pop the appropriate pieces on the notebook lid and the main body, and you’re good to go. There are a few inconspicuous tabs on each piece that latch on to the notebook to keep the covers in place. It’s easy to remove so that you can occasionally clean off the inside of the case, which they recommend doing to avoid debris from accumulating in between the cover and the notebook. But it’s not so easy to take off that the pieces aren’t secure. As stated by the product name, the case has a satin finish which helps the whole package feel a bit more grippy when on your lap, or when carrying, which is a nice feature. We’ll see how well the case holds up to smudging, bumps, and scratches in everyday use. So far I’m liking it, especially because it makes my Macbook look different from others (the glowing apple on the notebook lid can still shine through the case, and it looks pretty cool in purple).
Check out some pictures:
Just got back from a nice vacation out in the Seattle area. Luckily this weekend is a holiday weekend, so I have some extra time to recover.
So what’s with my post title? Its meaning is twofold:
1. I used several cameras during my vacation with wonderful results. Had a Nikon D80, Nikon F100, Nikon 35Ti, Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, Yashica T4 Super, Ricoh GX100, and a Polaroid SLR 680 SE, and an iPhone 3G. I used them all and got a fair number of keepers from each camera. Hopefully I can process a bunch of pictures and post them this weekend.
Each camera has characteristics that worked well in different situations, so there weren’t really any redundancies. I would possibly pare down my camera gear very slightly during my next vacation, but not by much. Perhaps leave the Ricoh GX100 and Yashica T4 Super behind next time…
2. Upon my return from vacation, I came across a couple exciting new cameras, both with HD video capabilities: the Nikon D90 and the Sony DSC-T500.
At one end of the spectrum, the D90 is the first DSLR to shoot video, 720p HD video to boot! There are some limitations, as I understand it, like not having the ability to auto-focus while shooting the video. However, given the flexibility of being able to shoot video with any lens, and being able to set the depth of field through aperture settings, I think having this video capability on the D90 is a great advantage. Imagine shooting wide-angle, fisheye video, or macro video just by switching the lens…very cool!
At the other end of the spectrum, the Sony DSC-T500 looks like a sweet, sleek, pocketable camera with a huge touchscreen LCD that can also shoot 720p HD video. You can shoot stills (not sure if you can shoot at full, 10MP resolution, though) and use optical zoom while you are shooting HD video, both rare features on P&S cams. I am not sure if the D90 can do that. The T500 also has optical stabilization, which is a welcome feature in a small P&S. It’s not a new feature; it’s just preferable to the other method of stabilization via forcing a higher ISO, which has become somewhat prevalent on recent P&S cams to save on manufacturing price.
Yes, the T500′s image quality will be somewhat hampered by the small sensor typical of pocket P&S cameras, but this would be a companion camera to my other cameras, digital or film, so I’m not so worried about the T500′s small sensor. Besides, I’ve shot wonderful pictures with my plastic Vivitar “toy camera”, so it’s really just a matter of knowing a camera’s advantages and limitations and shooting with them in mind.
Both of these cameras have really caught my attention; I’m eager to see them in person soon and give them both a test drive!
I love the Sony Rolly. It’s such a cute little, “Aibo meets mp3 player” kind of robot toy. When I first heard about it and saw videos demoing its functionality, it reminded me of the old Sony — the Sony that made really awesome gadgety stuff, whether or not it made sense as a mainstream product. They made tons of different electronic devices in strange form factors, and dominated the consumer electronics world. Unfortunately, that Sony has been replaced with “is it good for the shareholders?” Sony — a Sony that still makes some really lovely hardware, but has enough financial issues that they can no longer afford to make devices like the Clié (the absolute best line of Palm OS PDAs, closely followed by the Tapwave Zodiac) or the cute line of Aibos. When I saw the Rolly, I saw the old Sony taking a peek out from behind the stodgy, “bottom line is king”, new Sony. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of innovative (and expensive) products coming out of Sony, like that super-thin, OLED TV that they are selling now, their interesting take on digital SLRs, the Sony Reader, and their fun line of phones, several of which I’m enamored with. I just miss all the fun, “What am I going to do with this?” products they used to have.
Anyway, this rambling is just an introduction to a video I put together recently. I was surprised to see the Sony Rolly displayed at the Sony Style store in Woodfield, so I busted out my phone to take a video of it in action. Too bad I didn’t have the N95-3 with me; I could’ve Qik’ed it… Oh well! The original song it was bopping to was “Love Song” by Sara Bareille (IIRC), but I forgot that I turned off the audio recording. The audio probably wouldn’t have turned out so well anyway, since there was some other music blaring in another part of the store. Luckily I was able to find a good replacement song that still fits with the Rolly’s dance moves. Strangely it’s quite a different song from the original tune that played — “Discipline” by Nine Inch Nails. Thanks, Trent Reznor, for Creative Commons licensed songs! I converted the video from the original 3GP format and added the song as the backing track in iMovie, quite a painless process. I was all smiles while I was watching the Rolly dance in the Sony Style, and I was still all smiles when I watched it dance to NiN. Pretty funny contradiction between a cutesy, mp3-playing robot toy and an angsty (but dancey) NiN song. See it for yourself!
A couple of the devices that I carry with me everyday have all the features of the Sony mylo 2.0, and then some. Yet, I am still quite intrigued by this device. I can’t help it; it’s a shiny new gadget.
I doubt that many people bought the first mylo. It was a cool device, and I was quite excited to see one in person, but I think at the time of its announcement and release, there were other devices, including Sony’s own PSP, that had similar features plus more functionality, for less money. I had been hoping that perhaps the first mylo would’ve taken the same great media playback features and the wireless connectivity of the PSP and repackaged it into more of a communication device than a gaming device. I had also hoped that some of the technology in the mylo would have been ported back into the PSP — well, mainly the slide-out keyboard and the dedicated media playback controls. Entering text on the PSP is a pain.
However when I finally got my hands on the mylo, I was disappointed that it didn’t even support all of the audio and video codecs that the PSP did. At the time I had been pleasantly surprised that the latest firmware update for the PSP (3.x, IIRC) allowed it to support most audio and video podcast material formatted for the iPod without any transcoding. That, combined with the RSS support that allowed the user to download podcasts directly to the PSP, made the PSP a really nice media playback device for me. The PSP also had an okay browser that was marred by low memory errors and the lack of a decent text input method. The mylo seemed to improve on the PSP in that arena, slightly, but not enough to make it a great browsing device. These were my impressions from playing with a mylo at the Sony Style store for a while. I didn’t actually own a mylo, or get an eval unit, so it could be that later on Sony released some firmware updates to address some of these issues. Or perhaps some enterprising developers took on hacking the mylo as some had taken to hacking the PSP. I didn’t follow its development closely after the mylo’s release, since I had been rather disappointed with it when I saw it at the store myself.
All that being said, I think the updates that Sony made for the second-gen mylo really go far in addressing some of the issues I (and probably others) had with the original — updates to the browser to support more Flash content (still Flash lite, not full, desktop-machine-level Flash), more audio and video codec support (upon first glance it seems to at least be on par with the PSP’s codec support now), a backlit keyboard, and some refreshed hardware design in general. It’s interesting that it has a touchscreen now. This might make mobile browsing a nicer experience, instead of having to depend solely on a d-pad or joystick to move the cursor around the page. It’s also nice that it has a camera, though I wish it had higher resolution than 1.3 megapixels.
On the software side, the mylo is a lot more like the iPod touch than the N810. It’s more closed down, with a simplified interface that probably isn’t very tweakable. And it probably won’t ever have any full-fledged apps that can be installed, however it is interesting to note that in the features list on Sony Style, there is an item called “mylo Widgets”. Under that bullet point, it is clearly stated that, “…for the first time, users will be allowed to register as a developer in order to gain access to the technical resources they will need to build their own widgets.” For a consumer-level device that’s more on par with an iPod, this is sort of a unique feature. It’s not in Sony’s nature to allow a device to be open like this, even though widgets are pretty low on the totem pole compared to full apps. I know that the iPhone’s/iPod touch’s SDK is getting released in February, but the way the text reads from Sony Style, it seems more like any average user can register to create his/her own widgets, whereas the iPhone/iPod touch SDK seems more for established developers. I would be keen to see if any mylo widgets make their way over to the PSP platform.
Lastly, I like how Sony has taken the idea of free WiFi hotspot access that they first tried out with PSP users and carried it over to the mylo. I don’t know if Sony eventually did the same thing for mylo users before, but I did notice it this time around. The number of hotspots is limited, and I don’t know if there’s a time limit overall. IIRC, PSP users could have free WiFi hotspot access via T-Mobile for 6 months or a year. Either way, this helps take the sting out of not being able to be connected all the time via a GPRS/EDGE/3G connection.
These updated features make the mylo 2.0 a very nice addition to the internet tablet device space. Right now there aren’t many devices in that area, but the mylo’s competition is stiff, with the Nokia tablets and the iPod touch (and maybe a few others I can’t remember at the moment). While I’m not sure that the mylo will reach huge sales numbers, I’m still glad that Sony is releasing devices like this. It could be that somewhere down the line, mylo features will get ported into a new version of the PSP. Even if they don’t do something like that, I like that Sony is still taking a chance in niche markets and putting out products other than the PlayStation, TVs, and other mainstream, “sure bet” items. I’ve always been a fan of Sony’s imaginative devices and hardware designs, even though I don’t like some of the decisions they’ve made with their consumer electronics. The recent mylo and the Rolly mp3 bot products remind me of the old Sony I knew and loved during simpler times.
It’s been a while since I changed my theme around. Some people like to keep their theme consistent, since it’s like their “branding”, but since I actually consume a lot of web info via RSS feeds, I often don’t see the original websites, so it’s no big deal to me. I suppose I see it as fashion and accessorizing. Anyway, since I don’t host my own blog, I don’t have ultimate flexibility in how my blog is presented. But WordPress.com does a pretty good job of making a decent variety of themes available to us, adding more themes now and then.
I saw that there was a new theme available, so I decided to try it out. I love the combination of red and black, and I like black and gray, so this theme is kind of a nice little mashup of those colors. Usually it’s difficult for me to find a theme that doesn’t make my ink blog posts look messed up, so imagine my happy surprise when I found out this new theme called Redoable Lite did not stomp all over my ink blog posts! Yay! I noticed a couple older picture posts from Flickr that I had originally manually reformatted (to make them look okay in my old theme) are a bit wonky now, but overall, no big deal. Great! I really like the modern look of this new theme, and the frames that it puts around images. Very cool. Also, the big quote marks that it shows in the background when there are quoted passages look pretty cool, like from a modern magazine layout. Love it.
P.S. I also just found out that a newer beta version of Windows Live Writer is available now. I’ll definitely have to download it, since the ink blog plug-in is what I use for my ink posts. Perhaps they have fixed the issue where trying to add category tags for a WordPress blog was not fully functional (the drop-down menu was truncated and therefore only showed a few category tags)… For other normal posts, I usually just use ScribeFire since I’m usually in front of a computer with a browser handy. It makes posting from Firefox or Flock very easy (yeah, I know Flock has its own blog posting features; I just am used to ScribeFire).
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UPDATE: If you don’t see pictures with this post, it could be that your firewall blocks proxies like imgred.com, or imgred.com has gone down, or some other similar situation. I noticed that this entry didn’t have pictures when I looked at it at work, but then realized that the firewall was blocking imgred.com. So I’m not being hypocritical by ranting about websites not including product pictures when they post info about a new product!
Okay, I’m going to begin this little post with a rant. Why do websites post news about a product without a picture of it? (Yes, I may have been guilty of this in the past, but that’s not the point. *smirk*) I just got a newsletter from Macworld Weekly extolling the virtues of the Moshi Cardette USB hub/card reader, yet didn’t have a picture of it. Sometimes I understand because there aren’t any press photos available, but when the article specifically mentions something about its appearance or size, I sure would like a picture to illustrate that. And in this case, there wasn’t a dearth of pictures for the product online. What was even worse was that the newsletter didn’t even have a product link!
Google is my friend, so I looked it up, and clicked on a link for a story on MacNN about this product, and they didn’t have a picture, either! But they had a link to Moshi’s site, so I went there in search of the product.
It actually looks pretty nice. It’s a cute, designer card reader that adds an extra USB port for your disposal. It comes in black and white, but is a bit pricey at around $35 – $40. However, like for a lot of Apple products some people, including me, will pay a little more for something that looks a bit nicer.
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I got my iRiver Clix 2 in the mail today and took a bunch of unboxing pics for you. Check them out at Flickr. Here’s a preview:
I haven’t had much chance to play with it, other than turn it on and explore the menus and the pre-loaded content. My very, very, very first impression is that I really like this device. It’s small and sleek, but the screen looks huge, since it takes up the majority of the front of the Clix 2. The Clix navigation is very intuitive and responsive. It has a lot of “personality” from the user-configurable wallpapers, themes, and fonts. The AMOLED screen is bright and sharp. The pre-loaded videos look pretty good from a quick glance. I know I’m sounding fangirl-ish already, even though I haven’t even really gotten into the nitty-gritty with the player yet!
At first glance, I think that this player is a worthy competitor to the iPod nano. It trumps the nano in many ways — screen size, personalization of the player with wallpapers and themes, video support, and FM radio (though I couldn’t care less about this feature) built-in. There’s an on-board mic for voice recording, and you can record FM radio (IIRC). A memory card slot for expansion would have been nice, but since my iPod nano is 4GB, this is an even comparison. An 8GB version of the Clix 2 is supposedly due in June. I couldn’t wait that long. This is a well-done device from iRiver, and I look forward to using it as my “daily driver” for a while to see how it compares to my iPod for routine use, mainly for podcasts.
I’ll be very interested to see how easily I can get content onto the device, considering this has been the downfall of many mp3 players for me (*ahemToshibaGigabeatS*). As always, my best judge of a device is how well it fits into my daily routine. If I have to change my routine greatly just to accommodate a device, it’s likely a no-go for me.
Let me know what questions you have, and I’ll try to address it during my testing.
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