iPad

So after following the live blogs and now reading the tech specs I thought I’d add my thoughts on this new gadget. A few things I’ve spotted on the Apple site not mentioned in the keynote –

Screen Res is 1024×768, 132ppi (the iphone is 163ppi). Reasonable but not stellar – I would have preferred a 16:9 1280×720 panel myself but I can imagine the raw LCD costs would have made it that much more expensive. Its good so see a good screen in it though – IPS & LED Backlighting should make this look amazing in person.

VGA connector coming soon. Supports 1024×768 – making Keynote actually usable. I imagine it will work like the current iphone TVout cables – click on a video (or now a keynote presentation) and you’ll see controls on the unit and the presentation/video will come out the cable – with no OSD. No HD output (just progressive scan SD or XGA).

1GHz Apple A4 Chip
. So it would seem Apple has indeed made use of them buying PA Semi a few years back. Its an ARM based processor just like the iPhone. It’s a “system on chip” – so this one chip does it all the work. This is apparently very similar to a Tegra & Snapdragon chips – can you say ZuneHD and Nexus One.

802.11n. Good.

ePub support.
Along with PDF support we already have on the current iPhone OS this should mean we can convert text, website to a format that we can then use. I think Kindle is the only eBook reader that doesn’t support it. Go standards.

A-GPS on 3G model. The biggest Sat Nav ever?

No Phone option, new SIM standard, Data only
. I know you wouldn’t hold this to your face but a secondary speaker phone using its 3G capabilities maybe?

No Flash – Gruber @ daringfireball sums it all up well here. I don’t think we’ll ever see it on either the iPhone or iPad.

No Camera – So that means voice only skype. I think this could have become the killer app and at a low component cost – but hell they need to have something to add to the iPad 2G.

iPadNo built in USB host port, or SD card port.
Apple have announced the iPad Camera Connectivity Kit though and it does give you both of these. I had hoped the iPad would remove the need to have another computer completely making it that much closer to a netbook than an iphone. The good news is though if this puppy get jailbroken (jailbreaked?) the USB port could allow for some very interesting mods and unplanned uses.

Market – When I watched the demo video, of all the people I could think of it was my mum who I think is the most likely to get one sooner than later. My parents have been making noises about a second laptop for a while now – dad was well over having to share his computer.
My mother has never been a savy computer user and has never had to learn how to use any more than the basics of a standard OS. More and more though she wants to do the basics the iPad offers – look at pics, surf the net, email people and generally stalk her children via Facebook. I think the learning curve on the iPad is about as much tech as she can handle.

Pricing seems reasonable I’m sure someone will say “I can buy a netbook for $600” but at what I assume will be $NZ799 for the low end model, its close to the same price of a similarly spec’d netbook but with a better OS (for portable internet use), screen type and case/body.

Will I get one? Maybe. My iPhone 3GS is awesome, and I’m surprised I surf the net on it nearly as much as I do on my laptop. When I replace my laptop in the next year or so – will I get an iPad and a more powerful desktop machine? It’s something I’ve been thinking about well before the hype of this started.

No other announcments. No i5/i7 MacBookPro’s, no 12 Core MacPro’s, no new iLife. All iPad. I imagine there will be some spec bumps in the next week or so though.

One things for sure, I’m sure we’ll all pick one up and go – I want.

On another note – the iPad comes in ladies preferred options.

Yesterdays announcement from Telecom offering a very nice sounding reason to owners of iPhone 3G/3GS’s (or is that 3jesuses)¬† sure does sound good but is it as great of an offering as they say? At $1149 for an unsubsidized iPhone, I can’t imagine there being more than a few hundred people this whole thing is applicable to. I am part of those handful of people.

I have been a customer of Vodafone as long as I’ve had a cell phone. Suffice to say for most of that I’ve felt shafted but know as well as anyone that switching got you fundamentally the same plan at the same price with a different number.

I currently spend $90+ on my Talk 120 plan – far from good value but not really worth me jumping on a specific iPhone plan. Below I’ve tried to make a comparison of the similar plans on Vodafone and Telecom. This isn’t too scientific and feel free to point out any errors.

New Telecom Plans Compared to Vodafone

So there you have it – tie yourself to Telecom and get 25% off your plan over the course of the 2 year contract. Of course will the pricing on plans change much over the next 24 months? I would hope so but we all know how it works in NZ.

One thing we should all demanding – carry over minutes. They market these plans as having ‘free/included minutes’ but in reality when you pay $60 for 120mins (as I do now) you’re really paying $0.50c a minute for calls with a gaurantee of paying for at least 120 of them – which makes one wonder – if one pays for these minutes at that rate you should be allowed you to carry over the minutes for the next month – but not in NZ, if you don’t use your minutes they disappear into the either and you still pay for them.

Will I switch? It depends. The question will Vodafone try and keep me?

(FYI – I retook the screen shots so ignore the VodaNZ tag and dates on the iphone screen shots).

I think swine flu has gotten a bad rap.
I for one would like to thank it for scaring the hell out of the Japanese and leaving Air New Zealand with a bunch of empty planes with a schedule to keep. So when the $700rtn flights to Tokyo ex Auckland turned up on grabaseat I couldn’t help but take advantage of them (recession be damned). With less than a week from booking to flying out I had little to no prep time to learn some more language or figure the lay of the land. I did find on my travels that my iPhone 3G was a great thing to take on the road so here are my thoughts on the apps I found either useful or useless. Enjoy.

Shibuya Japan bia the iPhone

To start I wasn’t sure if Japan would even accept GSM based phones, it has always been known as a land of futuristic but very much proprietary phones. The good news is as long as its a 3G (2100mhz) mobile you should be good to go. There are 2 provider options for roaming, either DoCoMo or Softbank, my phone defaulted to Softbank on arrival but a bit of researched showed DoCoMo’s prices to be (marginally) better. For a full idea on costs on roaming Vodafone has every countries rates listed here.

Surprisingly Tokyo seemed to have little wifi, free or otherwise. I would randomly check my phone for any networks and find no AP’s near me. Starbucks yes, but even in the middle of Shinjuku besides one of the busiest train stations in the world – nothing.
This is quite surprising for the country with the fastest internet connections around you would assume that it would be saturated with wifi but it just wasn’t the case. I assume as everyone has cabled internet or data on their phones so wifi just hasn’t become as ubiquitous as it is in other countries.
Most hotels (including ours) offer free internet in all rooms and with an addition of the underrated but incredibly useful Airport Express we had a full 802.11n network ‘in room’.

Currency for the iPhoneBy far the most useful program when traveling was Apples own in built app, Mail. Sounds strange but by emailing yourself import info, pdfs & jpg maps one could have on hand a good amount of the internet offline. Each morning before leaving the hotel I would email anything that maybe useful to have on the day – whether it be the ‘How to plan your day at Disney Sea‘ from themeparkinsider.com or where the best tech shops in Akihabara are. Find a web page, save as pdf, email to self. It was truly a useful thing to have.

Outside of Mail, the single most useful application I found was the free Currency (itunes link) currency converter app. Japanese Yen is one of the more confusing currencies to work out in your head (I think it was something like remove 2 zero’s and times by 0.6) and having this on hand, even as a rough guide really helped either not spending a fortune on a bottle of water. Each morning I would open the app, which in turn would update to current exchange rates.

I also installed OffMaps, a Google Maps replacement that allows caching of maps from the open mapping database and store them locally on the phone. It sounds good, with an active internet connection all you need to do it go to the city you want to save and then select an area to download. Lonely Planet Japanese Phrase BookThat all worked as planned but once untethered from the internerd everytime I would open the program and use the GPS button it would ping me back to Auckland and make it a mission to get back to Tokyo and even harder to find out where the hell I actually was. Add to that the fact the maps were almost information-less, no landmarks or street names. I imagine as the mapping is open this should improve and the applications current user interface bugs get fixed this app could be a real god send.

Other programs I installed and had varying amounts of success with were  Tokyo Subway 2009 and the Lonely Planets Japanese Phrasebook. I think the subway app explains itself and was always useful to find which line runs where and where a suburb was in relation to where we were.

The $13.99 Lonely Planet app contains 600 common Japanese phrases. Each phrase displays the English pronunciation, Kanji characters and when clicked pronounce the sentence out the speaker or headphones.
I did find the few times I did try and use the app the sentences I needed was slightly different to what I really required or missing completely. Lonely Planet also do a Tokyo specific guide which looks useful but it did get to a point where I didn’t want to spend more on apps for than the holiday itself.
In the end I found my Girlfriends copy of The Original “Point and Speak” Phrasebook prooved to be extremely useful as it contained images, pronunciation and Kanji lettering of pretty much every thing you could ever need to ask someone or solve any problem you may run into. This book will hopefully be ‘ported’ to the iPhone but for now the analogue option wins out. If you are going to Japan – you need this book.

On trips to other locales I imagine a GPS navigation app would prove to be quite useful. Recently I’ve been playing with the first app to be available to the NZ market – I plan on posting on this soon.

It seem’s that Apple needs to have someone working full time on quality control of Apps and their listings on the store. They also really need to enable the ability to either complain or contact them directly if someone thinks something is awry and an app needs a re-review.

I feel the App Store system is working quite well but it seems that once a dev is ‘in’ theres no real test of worth for their apps.
Nullsofts SOCKS proxy app as a perfect example of the exact opposite of the rule is true also. Nullsofts App is legit and falls within Apples guides – yet it gets pulled, presumably because of AT&T’s connection sharing rules – rules that are relevant to AT&T’s market and could be legit elsewhere. Not only did they pull the App (twice!) but they didn’t even bother to contact the dev with an explanation or even notification that it had happened.

We don’t want Apple become big brother but some common sense – ‘Does the world need this?’ questions need to be asked. And if they need to be asked, someone needs to be employed to ask them.

What I don’t get is that the $US999 I Am Rich app actually makes it live, but that NZ’s own Orsome tvGuide v1.2 takes weeks to get through quality testing processes. Orsome, based on sales numbers alone have proven that it’s a real app, and people are happy to pay, so why can it not be fast tracked?

Orsome's tvGuide App

I still think overall though that this is all just a teething process for Apple, the iphone and it’s distribution model. If things didn’t go wrong – it would be just weird. Long term, they’ve made a great way of end users to have a simple and easy way to get extra features for their phone. No need for manuals, complex distribution and install procedures.

UPDATE Apparently 8 people actually brought that I Am Rich app before it was pulled…..