After years & years of wishing there were season box sets of Top Gear available to purchase here in the US, I just now found out that iTunes has Top Gear, series 10 available for purchase! I can’t wait to see more seasons show up for sale. Very cool. The Stig approves.
Usually I go to Amazon to find missing album art. Well, I just found out I don’t even have to save the pic file before pasting it into iTunes. I can just right-click on the pic to copy into the clipboard then paste in the album art window. Fast and easy!
Yesterday I said that Apple was going to come out with an iPod with touchscreen similar to the iPhone, but that if it had WiFi, they wouldn’t allow you to surf over it. Well, I’m completely wrong. Today they announced the iPod touch, which is essentially an iPhone without the phone part that many people were clamoring for. I actually can’t believe that Apple did it. They’re not known to make devices that people ask for, rather they make a device and make you want it. I thought they would limit WiFi usage somehow so that the iPhone is still their “high-end” offering. Perhaps they know that they’d get a lot more sales of an iPhone-like device without the phone, and are using the touch to make up for a slow down in iPhone sales? Or they’re just making sure all bases are covered by offering the iPod touch to users (like me) who really didn’t want to move over to AT&T? Whatever the reason, I’m very glad they made the iPod touch. In fact, I pre-ordered the iPod touch today. This is the first time I ordered a device online on the day of the announcement.
If you’re not as interested in the iPod touch, the rest of the iPod line got a nice refresh/update. The “regular” iPods are now called iPod classics. They got a bump in capacity up to 160GB, which is awesome. They also have a new metal casing, which I think looks pretty sleek.
The rumor of the “fat” iPod nanos turned out to be true! Luckily the devices do not look ugly. They have a bigger screen, video and game capabilities, and they have an upgraded UI like the iPod classic does. It seems both iPod classic and nano are running the normal iPod OS, but with different menus/display modes, while the iPod touch is running OS X. Don’t quote me on that, though. The nanos are also amazingly thin. I am a little wary about how fragile they could be in a pocket.
The shuffles are essentially the same, but there are 5 new colors. And one of them is purple! Purple is my favorite color, for those of you who don’t know. There aren’t many purple gadgets out there, so I may pick up a purple shuffle just because. Oh yeah, there’s also a Product(RED) edition of the shuffle and the nano.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the iPod touch and iPhone will get 3rd-party apps. If they do, they could be very close to becoming the Newton’s successors. As it stands, it looks like the iPod touch will have basic calendar and contact syncing. Combined with Gmail and Google Docs, the iPod touch could be a decent PDA-like device, or multimedia computer to compete with devices like the N95.
So now we have Leopard to look forward to sometime in October (hopefully), and perhaps around that same time, some MacBook or MacBook Pro refreshes will also be available. Still holding out for my ultra-portable MacBook with the 10″ screen… Very fun stuff for Apple enthusiasts.
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I was checking iTunes today to listen to a few samples of Bjork’s new album (the jury’s out on this, need to listen to it more first) and noticed Hugh Laurie’s face looking at me from the top banners. The iTunes Store has House TV episodes for seasons 2 and 3 available for purchase! Yay! I prefer DVDs, but if House can gain more viewers via iTunes exposure, so much the better. Also, if iTunes gets the House episodes for season 1, I might consider buying them, since the season 1 DVD box set is not in proper anamorphic widescreen. (The season 1 DVD set is in letterboxed widescreen, which means on my HDTV, the picture takes up about 1/4 of the screen, with black bars on all sides. )
So if you want to get caught up on last season’s and this season’s House episodes, you might want to check out the iTunes Store. (But I would also strongly advise you to buy the DVDs to get the extras. )
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I know this is old news, but I happened upon a list of artists signed to EMI on Wikipedia (via a links sidebar on 43 Folders). Looking through the list, I see a ton of music groups that I really like, including:
- Beastie Boys
- Hikaru Utada
- The Chemical Brothers
The individual tracks will cost USD $.30 more, at $1.29, but if you buy whole albums, the prices will stay the same, starting at $9.99. These DRM-free AAC tracks will also be at a higher bitrate that is supposedly CD quality, so that is an added incentive to buy the DRM-free versions. Don’t worry about the tracks being in AAC. I assume this means that iTunes will not prevent you from converting those AAC tracks to mp3 directly (it’s an option under the Advanced menu) for use on other players, if you don’t already have a player that supports un-DRMed AAC. iPods aren’t the only players to support this format; Google is your friend.
iTunes will still sell the $.99 DRMed tracks for the buyers who care more about the price than lack of DRM and higher bitrate. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for EMI. Personally, I think it will net them a lot more sales. I hope indie artists are able to take advantage of this pricing structure and sell their music directly through iTunes, cutting out the greedy middlemen (read: RIAA).
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Well, okay, that’s overstating it a bit. When Apple announced the Apple TV device, I knew perfectly well why they made that device, and I even agreed with the reasoning…to a point. For a lot of tech-unsavvy users who have lots of iTunes content, the Apple TV is a no-brainer solution for streaming the content to other rooms of the house. This is probably the case even for tech savvy people who want a dead simple way to move their iTunes content around. For me, it made more sense to make a media center PC out of the Mac mini – especially the Intel versions with Front Row – than to buy a device to stream content to other displays around the house because the Mac mini is more versatile in handling different types of media with 3rd-party apps like VLC. The Apple TV is bound to Quicktime and iTunes, which means either lots of transcoding of DivX/XviD/whatever videos that Quicktime doesn’t play, or a lot of tweaking codecs and stuff so that Quicktime does play those files. Yeah, the Mac mini is more expensive, but it is more capable, so it really boils down to what you want — a media center that can also be a DVR and/or general computing device, or a “dumb” device that just streams your content around the house.
Anyway, this is not the main point of my post. Earlier this evening I was watching an episode of The Scoble Show about Clipmarks. I was watching this video in the family room on the TV that my Mac mini is connected to. The hubby got home with dinner in the middle of the episode, so I had to pause it and move to the dining table. I can’t see the TV from our dining table, so I thought that I’d bring Pigio (my little Fujitsu P1610, for the uninitiated) to the table and stream the rest of the video from the Mac mini’s shared iTunes library while I was eating dinner. There were two problems with this. Firstly, I guess iTunes does not stream video content from shared libraries. I probably already knew this, but forgot. Secondly, even if iTunes did stream video, I don’t think this would have worked very well over 802.11b. So I ended up having to redownload the vidcast to Pigio, which took a while, but eventually worked out. What an annoyance…
So, I guess this is where the Apple TV comes in. Even though I would normally not be streaming HD content (most video podcasts are iPod-formatted, and therefore lower-res), I’d probably benefit from switching all of my networked devices to 802.11n to get the best video streaming performance. If I did buy the Apple TV, though, I’d want to figure out how to stream my recorded HD content from EyeTV, so I’d have to move to the 802.11n anyway. Just to clarify, I am not always watching various video podcasts while roaming about the house; this was a rare incident. However, I’m sort of getting back into watching video podcasts (did watch a lot of them over last summer while most of our favorite TV shows were on hiatus), so I might want to figure out a better way to handle streaming video from the Mac mini sooner rather than later. I realize there are other options, like Orb and Sling Media devices. I was just referring to the Apple TV since it most fit the scenario I was in, since the content was already in my iTunes library, and Apple TV is meant to stream your iTunes library around. I’ll be interested to see what people’s real-life experiences are with the Apple TV when it finally ships.