In the interests of being thorough with our research we like to make sure we are getting the best deals before purchasing any software. Yup, thats right, we have to purchase our own apps and gizmos so that we can truely remain in the spirit of reviwing without having to keep sponsors happy.
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It’s been a busy week in the Apple camp. First there was Lion, the Macbook being dropped and today we have what Apple calls the “World’s First Thunderbolt Display”. The 27-inch Thunderbolt Display has an LED-backlit, 2560-by-1440 pixel, 16:9, in-plane swtiching (IPS) screen, which Apple says has a brightness of 375 cd/m2 and a 1000:1 contrast ratio.
As gadgets go, I have to admit, that when I saw this little gem floating around on other review websites, I had to get it for myself and give it a thorough shake down. Personally to me some of the other reviews dedicate a few paragraphs, which are no way near enough for what this device can do and being honest, those other reviews miss out quite a few key important facts. So when the good people at Equinux offered me a loan of a unit I jumped at the chance and I have been reviewing this for the last few weeks.
Remember the days of walking down the road with a ghetto blaster? Well I have been doing the new age version of that, walking down the road with my iPhone and the portable TV tuner 😀 Also, and I don’t recommend this, with the help of a colleague we conducted our very own driving a car whilst watching FreeView test. So in short we tried to make this review as real-world as possible like we do with most of our reviews.
Setting up the Tizi.
This really coldnt be easier. Download the Tizi application from the App store and run it. Turn on the Tizi, connect to it’s own hotspot (wireless security is available) and the box will start scanning for signals in your area.
Our first attempt at a scan failed miserabley! This was no surprise as I barely get a signal with a boosted roof top aerial, so to remove the ever present issue of having a questionable tv signal, we jumped in the car and less than a minute later find ourselves with a nice strong signal. The Tizi started to do it’s channel scan and ended up picking up 67 channels which in my location merits an impressive result.
It’s at this time we found a massive bug bear of this product, okay maybe not a problem, perhaps it’s by design, you can’t use your own external TV aerial. Yes that’s right you have no option whatsoever to use your household aerial, portable aerial or anything other than the small built-in aerial that comes with the hardware. If you are savvy enough you could use the end of a household aerial connector and with a bit of fiddling get a signal indoors for those that suffer in poor signal areas like myself.
Smart location channel scanning works by using the iPhone GPS and hooking into, we presume, a database of transmitters to find the nearest transmitter to you. If you have your location services turned off you can do a full Freeview scan, however this will take some time as it will scan all frequencies in the spectrum.
At first we thought it was a little flimsy and weak, however, as we were later to find out the flexibility was a more than a saving grace. At one stage of our testing we caught the aerial on a wall, thankfully because it’s designed to bend up to 90 degrees there was no damage. Hundreds of times better than those old telescopic extending aerials that were non-replaceable and the moment they had a chink anywhere in them you were left waiting for an inevitable snap and a useless TV tuner. It’s at this point you realise the whole package hasn’t just been cobbled together, there is a definite sense of feeling that designers have worked alongside engineers to make sure that the whole, user interface experience is intuitive and simple from the out of the box moment.
So let’s get on with doing every unemployed persons favourite hobby, watching daytime television.
As you can see from the images, a small display of your current channel is at the top and below is a mini guide which you can scroll up and down to see what is on. Clicking on the small circle with the arrow reveals a small synopsis of what’s showing now and sliding to the left shows you the next program details. All the information is provided OTA (over the air) a neat touch to the intuatitve interface. Basic yes.. functional, definitely!
The blue bars you see under the channel logo represent how much of the program has played through already.
It might have been during updates for the guide, having too many open apps or our iPhone 4 still running on iOS 4.2, but we noticed considerable scrolling lag going up and down the EPG, all areas of the GUI were just fine, so it’s probably just a combination of doing a scan and updating the interface that takes its one time only toll on the system. Further EPG update didn’t seem to affect performance at all.
Some people are right to levy criticism at the fact that you can only see now and next programs, but then you would really have to ask the question, is this device really designed to be a portable DVR or just a portable TV viewer with an option to record programmes built-in?
Watching TV with Tizi
Quality wise it’s what you would expect from watching a video on an iOS device and freeview. Running at a full 25fps any transitions or panning shots were smooth with no issues at all with the quality and frame rate. Have a look for yourself in the sample video below. Note, because it’s on YouTube it’s obviously going to be compressed but I will get a download link to the source shortly.
Interestingly we found out that this box captures at native free view resolutions, for more information on this see the following link http://dtt.me.uk/
Rotating the iPhone to its horizontal position takes you into a full screen mode, the only thing you can do here is double tap the screen to zoom in, handy for broadcasts shown in non-widescreen format or for general zooming in on something. This does mean that if you want to record what you’re watching it’s a question of rotating the iPhone back to the vertical position. It does seem a touch bonkers that there is no way to record from the horizontal position, but it’s more a niggle than a drawback.
Once again we are faced with the issue of the digital signal that powers Freeview. Due to no fault of the box itself, some channels can look like the old RealPlayer dial up streams as many of the daytime channels are compressed to within an inch of their lives, just to make sure we can have our fill of shopping channels and not miss out. It’s when you start hitting the bigger channels like BBC you really see the quality shine through. Colors are exactly as you would expect watching tv on the iphone with smooth scrolling of panning shots.
There is an optional function to turn on a retina display function which really can make a difference on the new iPhone 4. The image comes across as being a lot sharper, crisper and even a touch more vibrant but this is at the expense of slowing down your phone a little.
Recording TV with Tizi
With the phone in its vertical position you can record a new program by pressing the record button, this will give you two options. Option one is to record indefinitely to the size of the available free space on your device, option two let’s you just record that program. Safety margins can be automatically applied so that recordings start and finish with some padding either side, to allow for timings and programs over running (Normally when Top Gear is on)
Playback of recordings is accompanied by the programme synopsis that is shown on the EPG.
Recordings are only accessible via the Tizi application itself, unless you download them to your computer . Why this is I have no idea, as other applications seem to have the facility to record into the camera roll location but hopefully this will be addressed in a future software update.
Recordings aren’t accessible in the normal Camera roll location because they are direct captures of the freeview stream (.ts) and not a standard Mpeg2 format. That explains having to use the app to watch recordings.
Another annoyance shows itself when trying to watch your recordings, the application will still be searching for the Tizi. So if you are trying to save some battery life make sure you turn off your Wi-Fi and 3G
The film strip icon on the far right displays anything recorded along with the program synopsis and file details like size and length etc.
Recordings are stored on the iPhone in their own area, so you can’t use the standard camera roll to view, as covered above recordings are accessed in Tizi application. To pull recordings onto your computer you need to fire up iTunes, go into the application sharing options, select what you want to synch and either do it manually or when syncing your iPhone.
An immeasurably better option would be if recordings were stored on the iPhone like other images and videos, in the camera roll location so you could use image capture to pull them easily instead of the iTunes faff. Even tho you couldn’t play them because of the recording format it would still make grabbing video to free up space more accessible. I do suspect that this is by design as you can use the TV tuner with their own desktop software called The Tube. Fortunately we will be reviewing this shortly.
Worth noting is the fact you can only delete recordings via the application itself and not via iTunes. So if you are wondering why you are running low on storage space remember to check your recordings.
Watching Live TV on Your Mac
This area seems to be the most overlooked part of any review for this box. In short, yes, you can watch TV on your Mac using the Tizi but alas this is something we are unable to test in our location. Its all the more a pity when you see what the tube software, designed to work with the Tizi, can offer an interactive form of television viewing experience. Keep an eye out for an upcoming review of The Tube from Equinux.
It’s hard to see, or maybe not, where this product is aimed. Being an ex road warrior myself if I had a gizmo like this in the past I would of been a happy bunny indeed.
It’s hard to find any real shortcomings with the Tizi that aren’t related to issues of signal but there are a fair few annoyances. Viewing video using the app itself rather than using the camera roll is the main one and when in landscape mode it would be nice to have a record button.
On the plus side, the software is well thought out, intuitive with logical placing of information, making use of OTA data but not crowding the display.
How well the Tizi works in hotel environments or built up city areas is hard to tell. With the digital switch over in full effect this really shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but one to bear in mind as you can’t use an external aerial. (We did try holding the end of a roof top aerial to the antenna and almost got it to work)
It’s easy to look at the price of the Tizi and write it off straight away. However, when you take into account a Wi-Fi dongle can cost up to £50, a USB TV tuner can cost almost the same (for a half decent one anyway) and then the portability issue of lugging around a Mac with you, it doesn’t seem so expensive after all. Yes okay, there’s more flexibility with the Mac and a bigger screen but also added weight and all. Six of one and half a dozen of the other.
“An impressive small package that excels at exactly what it set’s out to do, provide TV on your iOS device and allow you to watch and record programs in an intuitive easy to use way”
Though very retarded and disorganized, creating a clean install without installing Snow Leopard first is fairly simple.
To download OSX Lion you do have to do it from a computer with Snow Leopard 10.6.6 and above (due to the app store condition). Lion will not be distributed on the physical media or anywhere else. (One of the ways how Apple wants to make everyone use Mac App Store).
So, once you download OSX Lion it will automatically start the installation procedure.. before you click anything:
1. Go To Applications and find a filename called Install Mac OSX Lion.
2. Back That file to a hard drive or wherever just you have a copy so you can make a new DVD or USB when you need it
3. Now you need to right click on the above mentioned file and select Show File Contents
4. You will go into Contents folder and then Shared Resources and located a file called InstallESD
5. You can either burn this InstallESD.dmg with the Disk Utility but Lion installation from DVD drive can take forever. So it is recommended to use the USB stick.
To use USB Stick you will do the following in Disk Utility:
A) Locate USB stick on the left
B) Select it to be active
C) Click on the right side to RESTORE tab
D) Drag the InstallESD.dmg to the SOURCE textbox and drag the USB source to DESTINATION textbox, so it looks like this:
E) Hit Restore and wait until it’s done
When it’s done your USB stick is ready to be used as startup and install for OSX lion
6) Boot your Mac and hold the ALT key to pick the boot source
7) Choose your DVD with Lion or USB stick and you are on your way
Make a Lion Bootable DVD / Flash Drive / SD Card In One Click. Create an installed in just one click. Click the link to read our article on this.
Some of your questions sent in via the Yell US! Form
Q. How can I rip lion to USB?
A. Follow our guide above.
Q. How is Lions finder different?
A. Well, the first thing you will notice, is the lack of any colour on the standard menu items on the left-hand side. When you open mind in the new light on you will see the default screen is to show the most recently updated files in specific areas. There are of course LOTS more to finder than we’ve covered such as collapsing icons etc.
Q. How to check applications will run with lion?
A. There are a few websites that will list applications compatible with a Lion however our recommended method is to use Xslimmer and slim your applications to Intel only, preferably 64-bit. there are a few such as Billings that will complain they need a Java runtime. In situations like that just sit back and wait for an update. Here is our handy guide on how to check your applications are Lion compatible.
Q. What does the Mac OSX lion installation screens look like?
A. See our installation gallery here
For those interested in running Lion on a Hackintosh -based system that her a few projects coming up shortly where we will cover this. If anyone has an Nvidia graphics cards they would like to dedicate to the cause we would love you forever 😀
According to a Google+ post by Vic Gundotra, VP at Google, the official Google+ app for iOS should be rolling out “in the next few hours.” The app is actually available now, at the iTunes App Store.
Google+, Google’s contender in the Social Network war, was released only a few weeks ago and is already garnering millions of users and critical acclaim. The question of whether or not it can beat Facebook is on everybody’s minds, but it’s way too soon to know for sure. However, getting a timely release of an official iOS app is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s certainly the most successful social release by Google since they tried and failed (in most places) to create a social space for themselves with the ill-fated Orkut. A few more flops down the line, and it looks like Google might actually be getting its act together on this important front.
We haven’t seen any word about a Google+ iPad app, but we’re pretty sure that will be soon to follow. Facebook took its sweet time releasing an official iPad app, and Google will certainly want to cash in on that shortcoming. Google+ has tried to find ways to let people import their contacts and social connections from services like Google, but Facebook has always been conservative about letting their data go to other companies, and has tried to block Google from taking their data (and possibly users).
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.
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
Yup, we followed the herd to see what the google+ thing was all about. Just like Google Wave we are here tinkering and playing with the system.
Being the type of people we are, we would like to share the love and giving away google plus invites. Simply Yell Us! and we will send an invite.
With all the Broo haa haa that is going to be the build up to Lion installs world wide, we are one step ahead with our installation.
Taking just over an hour an a VERY cluttered Mac Book Pro 2009 model with 4gb the install went as smooth as I had hoped that it would do.
Sunday afternoon, the sun is blazing, so what better things to do than install Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (GM 11A511).
No mucking around testing if things will work with our apps for us. Nope sir -e- bob. We are going live with this puppy!
We now have a guide on How To Install Lion From A usb Stick or DVD Drive live. After using this for a fornight the jury is still out. Whilst there are a lot of positives there does seem to be a lot of hard drive spinning.
It looks like we will be doing a format and re install to see if that solves some issues.
Windows users are used to having plenty of easy to access tools to show then what’s going under hte hood of their system. The Mac on the other hand has tools but requires some knowledge to get to these nuggets of information, such as knowing what process is sucking your processors dry etc.
Mophie recently announced the availability of a new design for their highly popular and useful juice pack air battery extender for iPhone 4. The Mophie juice pack air snap case (US$79.95) is available at Apple Stores and other retailers, and while it still offers virtually double the battery capacity of the stock iPhone 4, the new design makes it easier to access all of the switches and ports of the smartphone.
Oddly enough, the application still plays a notification noise when mail is received.
It’s not the first time that Mailtab has faced this issue BUT and I have to stress BUT they are normally very quick to find a solution for this program.
As always we will keep you updated.
Well we sent Mailtab an e-mail and got an immediate reply.
This is an issue with Gmail’s abuse systems. We are working with google to get a solution in place soon.
Update 2 – 1st July
Seems the fixing fairies have done their job well and it’s now back up and running. Although it looked broken it seems that clicking the Home Tab at the bottom right of the app refreshed “stuff” and we’re back!
Simplicity can be the key at times with putting images on a website and this is where Zapd comes into it;s own.
V1.4 has just been released with the following updates
– Custom URLs are here!! Want to personalize your web address? You can do it now! Under Settings, choose a URL that you want and now you’ve made a custom website right from your phone!
– Option to make individual Zaps “private”. When you mark a Zap as private, it won’t show up in our showcase and only people whom you give the URL to will know about it. A great way to share personal events with a select group!
We have our own sample page here http://2pan.zapd.co/ if you want to see a quick and dirty example of what can be done.
“To see a list of all the applications on your Mac that will go phutt when you upgrade to Lion, hold down the Option key, click on the Apple menu, and select System Profiler.
In the window that appears, select the Applications entry, which appears under the Software heading.
Click on the Kind column to sort your applications by kind (meaning Classic, Intel, PowerPC, and Universal).
Seek out any that read Classic or PowerPC.
These are the applications that will be incompatible with Lion. (Those Classic applications are also incompatible with Snow Leopard.)”
Another way to do this is to run Xslimmer and let it check what architecture you are presently running. If it doesn’t say Intel then it wont.
Unlocking your iPhone has just become that little bit harder with reports we’ve read today about the new iOS 5 beta 2.
We really liked the Gevey Sim unlock and we were all up for looking at the Gevey Ultra sim unlock however,
MuscleNerd of the iPhone Dev-Team confirmed in a tweet on Friday that Apple has killed the hack, suggesting it may have been underpressure from carriers:
“it’s surprising Apple closed Gevey interposer hole in b2 rather than waiting until final (maybe they were under pressure)”
This means the Gevey SIM unlock will now only work for iOS 5 beta 1 and below, until Applenberry — the team behind the device — update it to work with the final iOS 5 release. If, of course, that’s possible.
In the meantime, then, the only hope for unlockers is software unlocks that will require your device to be jailbroken. The downside to that is that there is currently no untethered jailbreak solution for devices running iOS 5.