So there i was on Christmas day, sat around the family table exchanging presents and hoping, for the love of god that my little sister would like her Blackberry.
Being the one member of the family other than the tech freak of a sister I have, Christmas day was spent setting up a Blackberry. No, before anyone starts this is not a bashing or fanboy article. I spend what resources I have to look for what alternatives there are in the mobile phone ecosphere however it seemed to feel like windows 95 in a windows 7 world, even more so DOS akin to Mac OSX.
The experiment is simple and was really hyped by the Gadget show broadcast here in the UK on a monday night 8pm GMT. Is the iPhone 4s really better than the gadget it seeks to replace? and equalling the price of the 16gb 4s
That’s a bit of a harsh title you might think, after all The Gadget Show shown here in the UK every Monday night has been about for a while now so how can they possibly be biased against the iPhone and indeed the iPad.
This is a problem that I’m having at the moment. When using iMessage it will sometimes show text message and then revert back to iMessage. Problem is that both of these types of messages are in different conversation threads, making it hard to keep a flow going.
Dragon® Dictate® for Mac® 2.5 allows users to enter text and control their Mac by voice instead of using a keyboard and mouse. Turn ideas into text at the speed of thought so you can communicate more freely and persuasively. Just say words and watch them appear on the computer screen. Tell your Mac what to do and it obeys your commands.
At the EssentialMac.co.uk we use Dragon Dictate as a matter of course when reviewing. Personally I find that it helps articulate thoughts and ideas without the confines of a keyboard.
It seems that the age of speech recognition has been set alight by Siri. Vlingo might have been getting all the attention recently as an alternative but Dragon Apps have been around a lot longer but with reduced functionality. Dragon Dictation for Mac is a favourite app on the Mac for me right now so my ears pricked up when I came across Dragon Express.
Not having a chance to play with the app just yet it’s certainly shaping up to be an almost Siri like experience for the mac. Command’s such as
Sorry about that! Just recently we’ve had unprecedented traffic on the site and so in an attempt to solve this issue we went about setting up a content delivery network, a way to split the load of the site traffic over multiple systems. This however didn’t go quite to plan.
Opera has long since replaced my browser of choice on my iPad and iPhone just due to it;s user interface working with me instead of against me. There are tweaks ahoy including better compression , share articles by email and now predictive text has been added as well. Another notable feature is the data counter (accessed by going to help, data counter) to show you just how much you are saving.
I’d argue that for internet savings when on the internet Opera is 1000% times better than Onavo (reviewed here) not only compression wise but for the fact you get to keep your soul away from the marketers and data miners.
It’s well known that the iPad’s speaker is, well, a bit weedy. While there are a million and one low cost stands out there, if you really want to use your iPad as a movie screen, you need one that incorporates a decent speaker too.
Enter the Logitech AV Stand, a tubular stereo speaker with an arm-mounted iPad holder.
I’ll admit right here and now that my decision to get an iPad 2 was down to 2 reasons. The first being one being that of pure curiosity developed after months of iPad hype and the hyperbole surrounding the svelte tablet on the market.
The 2nd was missing out on a HP touchpad and then just deciding that sod it, EssentialMac reviews all things Mac and the iPad is part of that ethos (yes that’s a case of self justification if ever there was one).
So off I searched for a iPad2 and settled on a wifi 16gb version. Why? Well i have a mobile dongle and the jump between 32 and 16 was massive and lets face it, the resale value of these things is great so reselling for a 32gb one isn’t beyond the realms of impossibility.
Waking up with a hangover, bleary eyed and boderline dehydration (I get one night off every 2 weeks so I make the most of it) was made all the more easier with the anticipation of the postman bringing me my newest asset.
After a familiar tap on the door and a moments later there it was in my hands, another Apple product. It’s with a mixture of boyish excitement and the adult side of me being intrigued I start to peel back the all to familiar thought out packaging around the apple.
Opening up the box and it’s a case of bam. There she is and quite unashamedly looking up from her box waiting to be powered on in a matter of moments. Simple apple elegance as always. Instant on for me is a new feature. To go from nothing to browsing instantly does give you a partial wow factor. My trusty MBP is almost as fast but this is just pure gratification.
Off to the apple store or app store, whatever you call it these days, to register and setup is the simple process and familiar to that off setting up my phone and in moment’s the fobdle slab is now registered to my account.
Typing and interaction
Typing so far is an odd experience. I can almost get up to speed on this out of the box but the odd angle means that I doubt messaging apps will find its way onto here. I can see why people go for seperate keyboards but then doesn’t that hit cross over territory. Sure I can blog with the WordPress app or even just rough draft stuff but it reminds me of a till I have at work. It’s very stabby and even with the auto correct spelling grammer nazi enabled there were still loads of errors.
Justin.TV found it’s way on to my iPad giving me the first experience of scaling up applications. Some of them just don’t look pretty at all such as the case as this.
In this apps instance it;s always been flawed, claiming that the server is overloaded when streaming yet plays perfectly well moments later.
One Week On 15th September 2011
So, here we are one week later after receiving my iPad. As of right now my feelings are honestly mixed about the usefulness of the iPad. Admittedly I haven’t really t taken it out into the wild for some proper testing and it became more of a night time browsing/reading/watching device than the missing third device that people keep harking on about.
Do I regret spending £360? Do I have buyers remorse? Not yet, but it’s close, but like I said at the beginning of this article I really wasn’t sure where the iPad would fit into my lifestyle. Yes it’s great to have a tablet for browsing and mutational BBC I player but at the back of my mind there’s always the voice going on at me about the fact it costs so much to do relatively little so far.
So the next week the iPad will be going with me everywhere, on the road, to the pub and if I can find one, a copy shop that supports free Wi-Fi.
Upcoming iPad 2 Reviews.
The kind folks at MacAlly have sent us the
MagStand2, Magnetic Cabinet Mount and Viewing Stand (pictured above)
Protective Snap on case designed for use with the Apple SmartCover.
Both of these are welcomed additions to the home of Essentialmac as they are shaping up to be rather, well, essential.
Tuesday, 2 October
Well since the new release of DragonDictate, which features more localisation fixes, my interaction with the iPod has taken on a whole new release of life.
For example, this very text, I am dictating instead of typing which is grades being able to do this sort of stuff whilst lazing around on my sofa.
In the last few minutes I have been able to successfully dictate three e-mails, update this very blog, and generally become more impressed with the processing power of the A5 chip.
With the Apple press conference scheduled for Tuesday I do have a new phone sense of hope that voice integration may not suck as bad as some of my previous testing has shown. I still have reservations about how well the whole room invoice assistant system will work as 99% of the errors come from being in a loud or noisy environment so I can’t see many people turning off the TV on the radio or pulling over in their car to make it nice and quiet just to use simple voice features .
Browsing wise opera is definitely my browser of choice. It simply feels leaps and
bounds faster and smoother than the built in Safari engine and that’s not to mention the nice user interface tweaks which really do make it an essential browser.
The downside is that one of my favourite streaming TV applications, Justin.TV, pretty much refuses to work half the time on my iPod but will work properly on my iPhone.
I have still yet to get over my social anxiety of taking my iPad out in public but I have promised myself I will at least take it with me on my next venture into civilisation.
With the Samsung Meteor microphone on its way for review I realised I had the non-enviable task of trying to find some adequate software to match a premium microphone and must leave the idea to create our first ever podcast was born.
By no means is podcasting a black art but it’s certainly not as simple as one would think, so after laying down some pretty hefty cash for a microphone it only seems right that a similar investment was made in terms of software.
Cue Ambrosia’s WireTap Studio ($70). A few of my friends had mentioned this software previously along with several forum posters. Originally I was looking for a simple way to test and microphone but then it occurred to me why not just go the whole 9 yards and produce a pod cast. As always as simple idea then turns into a bit of a complex project as I wanted to record a Skype call for the broadcast.
Wiretap studio sits as an out of the way widgets which proves to be deceptively powerful. The widget effectively acts as a very simple mixer allowing you to select two same sources so, in my case, I can select one source as a microphone and the other as Skype. Selected audio sources can be saved as a separate files, very handy the editing later.
Once audio has been recorded there are a myriad of options to save the audio in a format of your choice. These range from the de facto MP3 standard right up to AAC lossless quality format. If you aren’t sure what your destination file type will sound like there is a live preview option to let you make that ultimate decision between the quality of sound and desired file size.
So that’s the basics but what Wiretap Studio really does excel at is to add spit and polish to any voice clips.
In my case I tend to do most of my EssentialMac.co.uk new and reviews with the aid of via speech recognition, however, I do have a tendency to pause midsentence to recollect my thoughts into a coherent sentence. Wiretap studio has a feature to automatically remove and cut pauses from the track. By selecting an option from the menu the application delete silences and you can control how long and how quiet passage is before the application considers it a silence and adds the appropriate pause.
Believe me the ability to remove pauses from stuttered speaking during podcasting sessions is a complete boon and this is just scraping the surface of this application. There is a complete sound effects suites which I haven’t even started dabbling with.
Of course, software like this, only reaches its full potential with proper, clear and concise documentation and the developers have obviously realised this with a plethora of videos and walk-throughs to get the most out of the software experience.
Disappointingly when we visited their websites to look at the add-on files section it seems that none have been developed from 2005 onwards. Older plug-ins don’t always put us off but with USB microphones becoming ever more prevalent in the market plug-ins can make a program look underdeveloped or discontinued.
We aren’t quite ready to make this one of our coveted essential applications as this really is our first foray into the world of broadcasting. That being said we did find it a rewarding experience for first-time venturing forward into the audio rather than textbased format.
Note. We did encounter some problems running this software after our upgrade to lion however we have been assured by the developers that they are working on this issue.As soon as the Lion compatible version is released we will update this review.
Hot on the heels of the 4.3.3 update for Apple tv, iCloud has just gone live with pricing details.
Along with launching the new beta service, Apple has also revealed its pricing strategy for additional storage on the cloud service. Apple will charge $20 for 10GB, $40 for 20GB and $100 for 50GB a year.
iCloud is Apple’s take on the cloud service. After lambasting employees over the failure of MobileMe, Apple is looking to get it right with iCloud. With Apple revealing the new service for the first time, it would indicate that the service is nearing public availability.
There have been many rumors about when the new service will go live. It is believed that the service will be launched along side the iPhone 5 which will hit retail later this fall. It is unclear if the new device will launch in September or November.
For those who are waiting anxiously for Apple’s latest service, this is a step in the right direction. With iCloud, Apple will kick off its cloud based service that offers many features to entice the user into placing their trust in Apple for securing their personal content.
We are still in the midsts of reviewing our Elgato Tivizen so we noticed this press update straight away. What’s new?
Home Network Mode
Tivizen can now join your home Wi-Fi network! While you’re on the go, you can use Tivizen’s own Wi-Fi bubble to transmit the television signal as usual. But when you get home and power it on, Tivizen automatically appears in your home network and is available to all your devices – Mac, PC, iPad, or iPhone.
To tether, or not to tether? Now you have the choice. In USB Mode, no Wi-Fi connection is needed at all. Now you can connect Tivizen to a Mac or PC via USB and use it as a conventional TV tuner. That means you can work, surf or play on the Internet, and keep an eye on your favourite TV shows, all at the same time.
Performance Version 1.2 of the Tivizen app also delivers an enhanced user interface as well as optimized stability and overall performance improvements.
The Tivizen App Version 1.2 is available for free from the App store