Posted by Ub3rG33k on Sep 22, 2016 in Apple
Ok, first of all, I’m weak, I know I am. I currently have the iPhone 6S, and after watching the Apple conference earlier this month, I didn’t see enough in the new phone to even peak my interest, never mind make me want to upgrade. Combine that with the fact that I moved to the ‘S’ cycle last year, with the intention of getting a new ‘S’ model every 2 years, the odds on me upgrading this year were slim to none. Apple then announced they were bringing the Apple Upgrade Program to the UK, and you’ve guessed it, just in time for the iPhone 7 launch, and all of a sudden, I got the Apple twitch.
If you’re not familiar with the upgrade program, put simply, you pay a monthly interest free payment to apple to essentially rent the phone from them, and after your eleventh payment, you can hand it back and take the next model, and start the cycle again. The monthly payment includes the phone itself, and apple care, spreading the payments over 20 months. If you decided not to upgrade, you can simply pay the full term, and own the phone. This for me ticked many boxes. As somebody who wraps their iPhone in cotton wool every year, to ensure it’s mark free, so I’m able to get a good price when I put it on eBay after each upgrade, now becomes a thing of the past. According to the guy I spoke to this morning, the phone simply has to be in ‘good working order’ when you hand it in. So assuming you don’t play football with it, you should be able to exchange the phone ever year without issue. Add the fact that iPhones really do retain their value, I’m looking at getting somewhere in the region of £500 for my old phone, making this an offer I couldn’t really refuse.
Ok, so the phone itself. Upgrading from a 6S, I’ve not really noticed that much difference. Yes, it’s a little quicker (due to the improved A10 processor), the camera takes better photos (due to all the new camera tech), it’s now got stereo speakers like the iPad Pro, the home button has haptic feedback, and it’s now waterproof…yay? I guess the main change that has annoyed ‘the internet’ is that fact that it’s lost the headphone jack. For me, as an audiophile, I welcome this decision. Yes, I’m going to have to go out and buy some decent digital headphones for my phone, but as somebody who owns more pairs of headphones/earphones than I care to admit, I’m looking forward to doing the research and finding a pair that match my hearing preference. For people not willing to move on, Apple do provide a DAC adapter so you can continue to use your analogue headphones. As for the form factor, the phone looks exactly like my 6S, and it’s only when I attempted to use my old case, I found that the camera had moved a little.
I guess if I do have one slight niggle, even though I backed and restored my phone via my Mac, I then had to wipe and restore my Apple Watch to re-sync it. Although not a biggy (and I didn’t lose any data), it still took a good hour to restore the Watch. Surely this could have just moved the host to the new phone as part of the backup/restore process?
To be honest, if it wasn’t for the upgrade program, I’d have stuck with the 6S, as there’s not change to warrant an upgrade, however, I’ve now started on a yearly upgrade cycle, and this makes me happy!
Posted by Ub3rG33k on Aug 31, 2016 in PS Vita
Like most, I’ve had a Vita since day one, however for the last year or so, it’s just sat there gathering dust. This is not due to lack of content (trust me, I’ve got loads of games to play on it), I’ve always found the rear touch pad a little cumbersome. I guess when Sony designed the Vita, this was deemed as groundbreaking, “a touch screen on the front and rear, amazing! This will sell!”. However in practice, it turned out to be quite distracting, and fiddly most of the time. About a year ago, I started looking for a solution and found a case had been made of the PCH-2000 model (the second generation model), which added L2/R2 buttons, and mapped these to the rear touch pad, giving player that control they’d been longing for. I, being an early adapter on the Vita lucked out, as the case wouldn’t work on my model….that was until very recently. A couple of weeks ago, I was having a quick look on play-asia, as somebody had linked to them on HUKD about some other cheap deal they had. To my delight, I noticed they had released a case for the gen 1 vita! Huzzah!
Product including shipping worked out to be around £42 (thanks to the current exchange rate), but thought, why the hell not. A few days later, it arrive and I finally got to play with it.
First thing to note is this really does had quite a lot of bulk to the Vita, however in a good way. Once clamped in, you feel like your holding a solid controller in your hand. The L2/R2 buttons feel solid, if not a little stiff to start with, however you quickly get used to have they feel.
So, demo time. First thing I fired up was Borderlands 2 on the Vita, as I remembered that you could remap the buttons. Sure enough, after a little tweaking, I’d moved the aim and fire to the L2/R2 buttons give the game a whole new lease of life!. I then tried a little remote play, as let’s be honest, this is all most people use their Vita’s for now. I tried a handful of games, some would let me re-map, some wouldn’t, however any controls that previously used the rear touch pad became a lot more accessible. I then decided to give a PSOne game a go. Now the cool thing about these are, you can hold down the PS button and customise the L1/L2/L3 and R1/R2/R3 buttons. A little bit of tweaking, and I’d replicated the PSOne experience, on my Vita! I did also try a handful of other Vita game, however if they didn’t already use the rear touchpad, or give the option to remap, I didn’t get any use our of the case.
Now just a word of caution before ordering. I got stung with an additional £20 bill for import tax. Well, I say that, £8 import tax, and £12 admin fee! (thanks FedEx), taking the price closer to £60. However, the only thing stopping you giving your Vita some love, is the lack of L2/R2 buttons, £60 might not be that much to kick some life back into the Vita.
Posted by admin on Mar 13, 2016 in Brain Dump
Nearly a year after it’s original release, I finally decided to get myself an Apple Watch. This descision didn’t come easy, I’ve activly shunned the idea of the Watch as ‘not quite good enough yet’ or ‘the next one will be better’, however all it took was a trip the the Apple store, to buy one as an early birthday present for C, and I ended up walking out with two.
I won’t lie, I won’t big it up, I won’t go all Apple fanboy on you and try and make you believe this is the best thing since sliced bread, the Apple Watch is simply a watch, with the option to display a second screen to a lot of my phone application, it’s also gives me a way of checking my phone notifications without pulling it out of my pocket, which is handy.
Now bear in mind, there has been a major OS upgrade since the watch was releases, and some of the functionality I’m taking for granted now, were much sort after when the watch was originally released.
My main use for the watch is for fitness. Unfortunatly (and one of the reasons I was holding off) it doesn’t have built in GPS, meaning if I go out for a run/cycle/use gym equiptment, I need to still have my phone with me. There is a built in activity app, which will use the pedometer data and take your heart rate, however, without the GPS funtionality, I won’t be dropping my fitness app of choice (Endomondo) anytime soon. On the plus side, Endomondo does have a great second screen app, allowing me to see pace, distance, heart rate etc, without reaching for my phone. Due to the built in predominator, I was able to retire my ageing fitbit flex. I did however spend a day or two wearing both devices and found the fitbit was a little more generous on the step detection, by roughly 5%.
The heart rate monitor seems pretty spot on, I wear Polar H7 monitor while I’m working out and the numbers recorded on both devices are pretty close, within around 1-2bpm of each other.
I know there was a lot of inital concern about the ‘all day’ battery life. I’d say I’ve been a pretty heavy user of the watch since I got it last weekend, not only has it recorded around 15k steps a day, a couple of runs, and a couple of gym sessions, and been my main notification window, and I’m still getting to the end of the day with at least 50% battery remaining, which is fine for me as I normally charge all my devices over night.
The whole user experience is interesting. As mentioned above, I’m basically using the watch as a second screen, and notification reader, which is great. If I have my phone near me, it’ll connect via bluetooth, if I move out of bluetooth range, it’ll connnect to my wifi and connect through that method.
There are a handful of stand alone apps, the activity stuff, the heart rate stuff, and also the ability to use the Apple Remote app from my wrist. Yes, I can control the TV from my wrist, we’re in the future 🙂 Some of the message stuff is initally quite fun, but the novility wore of quick, I can send my heart rate, or doodle to anybody on my contact list that has a watch…but again, after the first couple of days these stopped. There is one built in app which is pretty interesting, and thats the camera app. Although the watch doesn’t have a camera in it (or not that I know of) it can be used as a viewscreen for your phones camera, allowing you to pop your phone somewhere, and snap the pic using your wrist…again, a litte gimmicky, but interesting.
So Darren, why are you picking one up now? Basically I’ve been holding off until the March Apple media event (which is where the Apple Watch was announced last year), to see if there was an Apple Watch 2, and it doesn’t seem like there is. The rumour mill suggest there may be some new bands being announced, but not a new device…so I felt it was time to jump in. Granted if I’m wrong and an Apple Watch 2 is announced, with stand alone apps, and built in GPS, I’ll be upgrading straight away.
Within less that a week, the watch has become such an intergral part of my daily routine, and I kind of wish I’d have picked one up day one. I personally think the OS is still in it’s infancy, and I’m really intreagued to see where it goes.
Unboxing pics below.