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Apple TV 3rd Generation

Posted by Ub3rG33k on Mar 21, 2012 in Apple, Tech

Like many I sat and watched live streams of the iPad 3 media event on the 7th March 2012, and sat at drooled at the new shiny. In addition to the iPad 3 being launched there was the announcement of the 3rd generation Apple TV.

It’s selling features at the event was a new shiny UI and the ability to output 1080 video (instead of the 720 from the 2nd generation)

Although the 1080 did sound appealing, I spend the best part of a month encoding all my media to 720, and didn’t plan on re-encoding all the blurays to 1080.

Again the new UI looked new and shiny, granted there were no new features added, it just gave it more of a iOS feel, which was available for the 2nd generation within hours of the media event….so unfortunately I wasn’t sold and thought I’d pass on this model.

Then an opportunity arose, that meant I could potentially move one of the existing Apple TV’s into the kitchen, and replace this with a new model…so I did.

Last night it turned up, and to be honest, if it didn’t say 1080 on the side of the box, it would have been hard to tell if it was the new model of not. The same applies for the device itself, I held the 2nd and 3rd generation side by side, and honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

Plugged in the device, saw the familiar apple symbol then ran through the setup as with the other models. Once set up, I flicked through the menus, to find only one change, the vide output had the 1080 option, and that’s it. This actually made me happy, as I realised I wasn’t losing any functionality from the previous boxes.

Now I’ve seen a number of tear downs, and people are suggesting the 3rd generation has got the A5 processor, and the upgrade to 512Mb of system memory making this device as snappy as the iPad 2. There is also the suggestion that this has the same internal 8Gb storage, and the bluetooth has been upgraded to bluetooth 4.0

Being a long time user of the 2nd generation model, the upgrade to the processor and memory are noticeable, this device is a lot snappier. I’ve not given it enough to see if the hardware upgrade fixes some glitches that were present in the 2nd generation, eg the random restarts, and the occasional buffering issues, however I’m sure time will tell.

I did attempt to give the 1080 a good test, however the UK version of the store and netflix seems to be a little sparse when it comes to 1080 content. It seems a lot of the items are tagged as HD, with the occasional tagged as 1080. Based on this assumption there doesn’t seem to be any 1080 trailers and all the Netflix content I tried had only the HD tag. Now I have read that Netflix has upgraded the Apple TV steaming to support 1080, but not sure if this is in the states only. Currently the UK Netflix library is but a small subset of what’s available overseas.

I did however download a 1080 trailer from Apples site, drop it in iTunes and streamed it to the Apple TV and this did look a lot sharper.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens with future content, and hope that when the iCloud movie steaming comes to the UK, I’ll get a 1080 version of all the films I got on triple play (Digital, DVD and Bluray), but I guess only time will tell.

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Apple iOS 4

Posted by Ub3rG33k on Jun 21, 2010 in Apple, iPhone

When I moved from my Nokia E90 to iPhone, there were a few features missing that I used a lot. Being a “tidy freak”, I kept my application organised in folder. I’m also a big fan of Google Latitude and had this running in the background all the time, but these were scarifies I was willing to make to move across to the iPhone. As you can imagine I was overjoyed to find that not only were Folders coming to the next OS for the iPhone, but also “multitasking”. Now granted this isn’t the same multitasking that you get on the likes of Symbian S60, however for what I want it for (Background location), this made my day.

I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, I have an iPhone 3GS and on Thursday will be accepting the delivery of my new, shiny iPhone 4. This means I get to use the full functionality of the new OS, other people (iPhone 3G and before, iPod Touch 2G and before), will only have limited functionality (No multitasking).

So today’s the day, and iOS 4 is available for download, and obviously I’ve now downloaded it and have it installed.

The first think that stands out is the customised Home Screen Wallpaper. Now I know it’s a simple thing, but does really help to personalise your phone. This is something that I took for granted on the Symbian OS, and until it was gone, I started to miss it.

The next thing I did was created folders and started to drop apps into them, this was a god send, Apple have made it as easy as possible for you to do this, simple drag one app on top of another and voila a folder is created. The folder names are automatically named, eg Games, Reference, Social Network, and can only assume it does this based on the iTunes category, this can however be changed . Before I used to organise my application using the screens, Social Media, Weather (yeah, I have multiple weather apps), Shopping, Fitness, Media, Game Tracking, and Games. On OS3 you can have 16 apps per page, however the folders are only 12 apps. This does really clean up the iPhones real estate.

The Spell checker works a treat, I prefer it to it just randomly correcting as I type.

When I saw the email was “Even Better Mail”, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I only have one mail box with all mail in (I use email forwarding for all my accounts, and have my google apps account as the central repository, and splitting my mail accounts using labels), so didn’t think I’d see a benefit, however, being a gmail user is was good to see “organize messages by threads”. It felt a lot more familiar. You get a number at the side of the email to tell you how many are in the chain, clicking on email brings up the “conversation”

Functions like iBooks, the ability to create playlists on the move weren’t something I was really interested in, as I’m more of an Audio book reader, and I prefer to organise my playlists on my Mac.

As for the other functions like Facetime, I guess I’m going to have to wait until Thursday.

I think I can now finally say, there are no features that I’m missing, and glad to be an iPhone owner, I’m sure that over the next few days, I’m going to find features I’ve not initially noticed, but will tweet about them as and when I find them.

edit: After playing with iOS 4 now for a good few hours, I’ve found a few more features. The 3GS does support the digital zoom function on the camera app, you just need to tap the screen once, and you’ll get a slider bar allowing your to zoom in.

The camera app has also been upgraded to include similar features to the Mac software iPhoto, in the way that it now sorts your photos by places and faces, and seems to be loads more accurate with the GPS location.

You also have the option of having 2 different wallpapers, one for the lock screen and one for the home screen. This option can be found on the 3GS under Setting >> Wallpaper.

You can also now change your Safari search engine by going into Setting >> Safari >> and changing the search engine from Google, to Yahoo! and Bing

Currently I only have 1 app on my iPhone that supports “background processing” and that’s Dropbox. If I set something uploaded, then close, this will continue to upload in the background.

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ted (Television Episode Downloader)

Posted by Ub3rG33k on May 8, 2010 in Apple, Microsoft, Tech

If you are anything like me (and god help you if you are :)), and use the internet as a PVR, then this software will be a god send to you.

I’ve just recently ordered a Mac Mini to replace my last remaining Windows machine, and thought I’d better check if I could still do what I do now.

Currently my Dell machine, sits in the corner, and is used as my media server, my iTunes server and my torrent machine. Currently I have uTorrent installed, which downloads each episode using the RSS Feed option. Each of the RSS feeds points to a particular RSS feed for my favourite TV program from eztv, and once a new episode is detected, it’s downloaded.

Once the episodes are downloaded, these get copied to a shared location on my NAS Box, which I can then stream to my PS3’s or Xbox using PS3 Media Server.

I did a little googling last night, and even though there is a Mac version of uTorrent, it’s still in beta, and missing a lot of the functions that the Windows version has, eg the RSS downloader.

After a little more googling, I found a tidy little piece of freeware software called ted (Television Episode Downloader). Essentially it has a list of all the TV episodes that you can select from, and when a new episode appears, it will download the torrent file, and open this with your default torrent client.

Ok, this that fixes the missing functionality of uTorrent, however the software is a lot smarter that the RSS Downloader function in uTorrent, as once you’ve added your favourite shows, you can choose to start from the next available episode, the previous episode, or even download every episode. You then have the option to select “HD Only”, which will only download episodes with the tag of HD or 720.

The interface will also show you the name of the next episode, and when it’s going to be aired.

The good thing about this software is that is available free of charge on Mac, Windows and Linux, and only requires that you have a torrent client installed (I highly recommend uTorrent, Mac and Windows clients available).

Now some people may have a problem with downloading episodes from the internet, I however don’t mind, as I tend to buy the boxsets once they are available. Also this is little different to using BBC iPlayer, or Sky Anytime.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts, and enjoy

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