Wednesday Tech – Part 5S

iphone-5c-colorsThe iPhone 5s and 5c have arrived.

Meanwhile, my iPhone 4 is still going strong, and if I’m lucky, by the time it blanks out, Apple might be shipping the iPhone 7. In the meantime, I’m excited at the prospect of moving to iOS7 in the next couple weeks whenever Apple drops the final consumer release to the public.


There have been numerous tech improvements since the iPhone 4.  Processor and camera-related upgrades are de rigueur.  Now we have colors, though to be honest, it’s a brave soul who doesn’t already armor their iDevices in some sort of protective colored condom.

It’s market genius for Apple to promote customers NOT using a case in order to show off their fancy new colored gadgets.  Lots of broken phones to be replaced means more profit. You pay your money and you take your chances.

Aside from the fingerprint reader, the beltway press seems dinterested in the latest chip improvements or hardware advances in Apple’s new offerings, and much more interested that they didn’t drop the price of the colorful plastic model (5c) enough to make a dent in the Android-awash smartphone markets in central Bangladesh.  That’s something I never would have wondered about, let alone contemplated happening, but then I live on planet Earth and don’t get paid big bucks to write deep insipid analysis like Farhad Manjoo.

Tech Thoughts

To be fair, tech improvements beyond the iPhone 4 are far less critical to me than the operating system that runs on it (and the app environment it supports). For most of the world, anything beyond the iPhone 4 is more than adequate technology. That level of tech has now dropped to a zero price point (on contract).  If you want the added bling of color or the latest in Apple smartphone tech it’s available for a couple hundred bucks more.

I’m hard pressed to come up with a defensible reason why upgrading to the latest model iPhone, just to get the bells and whistles of fingerprint scanners, faster chips and camera magic is worth it.  The camera upgrade intrigues me, but I’m savvy enough to know from experience that at the end of the day, it’s still a “phone cam”.


Christmas Tech

Snappy Holidays

The recent snow and creeping intrusion of holiday ornamentation heralds the annual War on Christmas, so I thought I’d toss in my two cents on where folks interested in stockpiling personal electronics for the upcoming apocalypse ought to be heading.  This all assumes you have at least a bit of money left from all the necessary weapons upgrades.


Under the Tree

First off, if you don’t yet own a tablet device, the Apple iPad or iPad mini is the big winner in this year’s Christmas kerfuffle.  I predict the iPad Mini will be the hottest gift of the season.  I have a call in to Santa for an iPad Mini.  It will be an upgrade from my iPad Micro (Iphone 4)  Avoid the Microsoft Surface at any price.  The Microsoft device is so underdeveloped there aren’t even apps for Facebook and Twitter, and the O/S is so fumbled I have actually seen screen shots of their tablet O/S giving those insane error messages Windows is famous for.

The new Apple iMac is the perfect desktop machine.  The Apple TV is an inexpensive gift for a tech oriented family and might qualify as a stocking stuffer in some realms.  Any iPhone is a treat, but the newest model is always the most cherished.  That said, my iPhone4 is fantastic, so even if you can’t swing for the latest greatest iPhone5, there are cheaper options that don’t involve tremendous sacrifice in features or usability.


A Christmas Story (Ghosts of Christmas Past)

And to the many children of the cheapskate parents, I give my condolences in advance for the $99 Android monstrosity of a tablet your folks grabbed at the check-out line in Walmart the day before Xmas. Don’t swear about it in front of your folks or you might end up like Ralphie above. Lots of us didn’t get what we wanted because some knock-off product conned our parents into buying it instead of the real deal.  I used to be THAT kid.  When the Red Ryder BB gun was “the shizzle”, you could count on my parents getting me the cheap plastic version that shot soft rubber pellets.  One of the best early gifts I remember as a little kid was getting a battery operated tow truck (with motorized lift and flashing red light!!)  It was called the Big Bruiser.  I saw one for sale on Ebay the other day.  New in the box.  Priced to sell at $1175!  I was never one of those kids who treated his toys with the dignity of display quality handling.  I could have sold my old Tonka truck for a small fortune, but it got pretty well ground down using it as a wagon to race down the sidewalks (and streets) in it’s day.  Kids of my generation used the toys they got and then left ’em out in the rain.  I guess that is why the small amount that remain command such high prices on Ebay.


Stocking Stuffers

Spotify Pro account.  About ten bucks a month.

Apple gift cards.  Available in various amounts starting at about $10.

Bluetooth headphones.  From about $80 to $400.  I own a pair similar to this that work well for me.

Bluetooth Speakers. From about $50 to $350, with sound quality generally increasing with price.  Brands of note.  Jawbone Jambox  and Logitech.

Microsoft Tablets

Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz.

Microsoft is launching their first batch of tablet computers.  I have been hearing those words for about six months now but haven’t actually seen one yet.  Back when I gave a squat about what Microsoft was babbling about, they were constantly talking about a Courier tablet.  Looked cool.  Never materialized.  I seem to remember that being several years before the iPad arrived.  Another case of “what if” for Microsoft.

The Courier seemed breathtakingly innovative compared with “keyboard covers in fancy colors” that look good, and are obviously meant to make them stand out from the iPads they are (desperately?) trying to compete with, but since the Apple iPad already has an outstanding Bluetooth keyboard available (full disclosure – I love my Apple Bluetooth keyboard) that feature isn’t as Earth-shattering as it might otherwise appear to those with no knowledge of the Apple iPad accessory market.

The last time Microsoft entered a market segment this late in the game was with the Zune, when they absolutely couldn’t ignore the iPod any longer.  Microsoft was one of the last, and easily the largest of the iPod killers, to end in the graveyard of hopelessly lame electronics.  The Zune is now referred to as the Edsel of electronic devices but just like the Edsel there are some who still sing the technical virtues of the device.

Two Routes Tablets to the Celestial Kingdom. success.

In the spirit of mixing politics with, uh….everything, and a keen eye on educating the US public on the bizarre religious beliefs of one of their leading candidates, I shall refer to the two Microsoft tablet models as Urim and Thummim, with Urim being the stand-in for the cheaper unit and Thummim taking the starring role as full blown tablet.

That the “cheaper” tablet is doomed to fail couldn’t be more obvious to me if it were written on Golden Tablets and decoded by Joseph Smith himself.  It won’t be long before chants of “The Urim is Vermin” begin to appear.  My guess is that will happen about the time the hapless consumer clicks into the “apps” section of the Microsoft store.  Since Urim doesn’t support full scale Microsoft products, the Urim clients will be tethered to the Microsoft store just like the Apple iPad crowd.  I venture to guess that the Microsoft store will resemble the bread lines in former Soviet Russia as people stand around waiting (hoping, praying) that their favorite app will get ported to Microsoft.  This is the tablet that will really show how much Microsoft was “forced” into producing this on their own when everybody else knew better.  Prediction: DOA

Microsoft’s upscale version$$$ of their newfangled tablet (Thummin) is purported to run full-blown Windows.  See all those extra dollar signs?  Prediction: Narrow adoption by those with very specialized needs, and that is fully dependent on the unit actually performing in a manner consistent with the high expectations Microsoft is prepping everybody for.

Clear winner in all this?  Ipad Mini.


Apple Oversight

I had an electronics experience yesterday that totally blew me away.  My wife bought herself a new Mac Mini and I was tasked with setting it up.  Be aware that you cannot set up a Mac Mini using APPLE’S BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD!!  You must do the initial setup with a wired USB keyboard, which you can then totally discard once the bluetooth keyboard has been synced.  I was BLOWN AWAY that Apple could overlook something so freakin’ obvious.  I have no problem with their changing connectors and having to buy adapters, but when I buy a brand new Apple PC and an Apple wireless bluetooth keyboard, I do not expect to have to return to the electronics store to purchase a USB keyboard to use ONE time.

I love the new mini, but FFS Apple, please don”t task all your creative juices towards ONE product (iPhone) at the expense of the rest.  FWIW, I bought (and still have) an earlier MacMini (solo processor, 1.5ghz).  Note that the new Mac Mini has shed the CD/DVD drive, but for some reason, the footprint on the new mini is larger than my old one.  It is slimmer by about a third (probably from losing the CD drive) but has been “squashed out” into a footprint at least 25% larger than the old one.  My question is WHY?  Every bit of electronics that goes inside this thing has been miniaturized much further than when I bought the original MacMini (like five years ago now!!)  Makes no sense to me at all that this Mini has a bigger footprint.


Mayberry GPS

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