Posted by Ub3rG33k on Oct 5, 2016 in Apple
It seems like only yesterday I walked out of the Apple Store with my gen 1 Apple Watch, and since that day, it’s become a integral part of my daily life. Currently, I use it for nothing more than a second screen for apps and a notification system, but it’s just become the norm.
Back in September, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 (doing away with the 1st generation all together). The main differences being, it’s waterproof up to 50 metres (instead of the 1 metre of the gen 1), it now has built in GPS (although doesn’t track elevation), the ability to track swimming, a faster processor, and a larger battery.
On paper, there’s wasn’t enough to make me want to upgrade, as there are still a lot of limitations. Although WatchOS3 has attempted to make the watch ‘less tethered’, the majority of the apps still require you to have your phone with you. You are able to sync podcasts and audiobooks to the watch, and then listen through bluetooth headphones, however these still require a little fannying around with playlists. Hopefully by the time WatchOS4 is released, I’ll be able to run the podcast and audible apps on my wrist, negating the need to take my phone with me.
So Darren, why did you buy the new watch if there’s no benefit to you? Simple, it seems the Apple Watch is on a 2 year cycle, and I’m pretty sure app developers and Apple will start to work together and enable apps to be more independent. As a simple example, the running app I use (Strava) doesn’t currently use the inbuilt GPS, and still requires the phone to sync/upload the data. I’m sure in the coming days/weeks/months, they’ll use the built in GPS, store the data locally, and then sync with the phone when back in range. In the meantime, I can use Apples built in Activity app to track my runs.
Secondly, the swimming. Currently I don’t swim much, in fact it’s probably been a couple of years since I’ve been swimming, however it’s something I’ve been looking at getting back into. Having tech on my wrist that tracks, monitors and encourages you to go swimming will give me the kick up the arse I need to get back into the pool.
So, does it feel any different? Yes, a little. Feels a little heavier, and a little bulkier to wear, however the speed boost is very noticeable. WatchOS3 did make a huge difference to the speed of the watch, however the dual core processor gives it the extra kick it really needs.
Basically, I didn’t ‘need’ to buy a new watch now, I could have just waited until it was more independent, however, I thought I’d get in at the beginning, instead of half way through as I did last time.
Unboxing and comparison pics below.
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.