Koolio

Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Video: First look at the 1098R


Man, watching these videos and hearing the 1098 really makes me miss my bike…winter can’t end early enough!

My favorite part is how Michael Neeves (MCN reviewer/rider) is speechless for a second after he gets back into the pits.

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Filed under: Ducati, Motorcycles, Reviews, Video, YouTube

1st Ducati Desmocedici hits the UK


One word describes my reaction to watching and hearing this bike: incredible. Man, it’ d be nice to be able to spend $73,000 on a motorcycle.

[via TwistingAsphalt]

Filed under: Ducati, Motorcycles, Video, YouTube

Toshiba HD-DVD player for $200


toshiba-hd-a2.jpgHave you been waiting for a cheap but good quality HD-DVD player? Well, your wait is now over. You can now buy Toshiba’s 2nd generation HD-DVD player (HD-A2) for $200 at Circuit City and, starting next week, at Wal-Mart and most likely Best Buy.

I was an early adopter and own the 1st gen Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player and love it. The picture and sound quality is amazing…assuming you have a calibrated HDTV and a good surround sound system.

FYI, the latest HD-DVD player is the HD-A3 and HD-A35 (3rd gen). You can check out the specs of the HD-A2 and the rest of the HD-DVD players on Toshiba’s site.

[via ArsTechnica]

Filed under: Deals, HD DVD, HDTV, Home Theater, Movies, Surround Sound, Video

iPhone Scratch Test Video


Thinking about getting an iPhone but are wondering how durable it is? Well, check out this video from PC World. They scratched the screen with a key, vigorously shaked it in a bag with a bunch of keys, and dropped it on concrete multiple times. The end result: no scratches. Just some scratches on the chrome strip around the screen.

The iPhone looks like it should be coddled like a newborn baby but Apple was smart and designed it to withstand real world usage.

Btw, iLounge has a nice review of the iPhone and speaks to their findings in regards to durability.

Filed under: Apple, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Smartphone, Technology, Video, Wireless, YouTube

Earth Day video from Rocketboom


Yesterday (April 22) was Earth Day and Rocketboom posted a nice video in relation to Earth Day.  The video is about the amount of waste that goes into the packaging of consumer products – in this case, a Canon inkjet refill cartridge.

Rocketboom is a videoblog based in NYC that posts daily 3-minute news videos (hosted by Joanne Colan and formerly hosted by Amanda Congdon) focused on international arts, technology and weblog drama.

Filed under: Video

Got my Joost beta invite


Well, I finally got my beta invite to Joost back on April 5 and I just was planning on downloading the install software but noticed that only Intel Macs running 10.4 or higher is supported. Since I’m running a PowerBook G4 with 10.3 I’ll have to install it on my Vista machine.

I’ll try to check it out later this week. When I do, I’ll post a review or, at least, my initial thoughts.

Update (4/11/2007) Well, I just tried to install it on my Vista Ultimate machine and I keep getting a “Joost stopped working” error message…ugh, what a pain in the ass.  I checked their forums and, with the latest version (0.9.2), some people are reporting issues with Vista while others aren’t.  The real annoyance is that I can’t post in the forums because the only way to create a Joost user account is via the client application.  Since I can’t launch the app, I can’t create an account.

I sent an email to their support email addy so, hopefully, they’ll help me resolve it soon.  Until then, no beta invites for me to give away. 😦

Filed under: Digital Movies, IPTV, Video, Web 2.0

How NOT to sell an Apple TV


Are you interested in buying an Apple TV? If so, I bet the first thing you would do is visit an Apple Store so you can demo it and see how it works, how good the video quality is, etc. Well, the good news is the Apple Stores have 3 of them – each connected to a Sony Bravia LCD. Great, right? Wrong.

I went to the Apple Store in Burlington, MA this weekend and watched National Treasure, Heroes, and Pirates of the Caribbean (each for 30 seconds) and the picture quality of all of them was terrible. Of the 3 Apple TVs, the two I tested had the same issues. In fact, the video quality was so bad that, if that was my only experience with an Apple TV, I would NOT buy one.  If the Burlington, MA store is indicative of all Apple Stores, then Apple has a problem.

My Apple TV is connected to a 50″ Panasonic plasma (TH-50PX60U) and the picture quality is 10x better. And, yes, I compared the same TV show (Heroes).

Why is the picture quality so much better on my display? Simple – the LCDs at the Apple Store weren’t calibrated. Sony Bravia LCDs are excellent HDTVs and are known to display a very good picture. I’m guessing they just took the TVs out of the box and set them up using the default picture settings (which you should NEVER do).

It wouldn’t be hard for the Apple Stores to calibrate a TV – all they need is someone who knows how to use a DVD calibration disc. Heck, I’ll be their consultant and travel to all of the Apple Stores to calibrate them…I’d be willing to take payment in the form of cash or Apple products. 😉

To sum it up: Apple needs to calibrate those HDTVs if they want to sell Apple TVs.

Filed under: Apple, Apple Store, AppleTV, Digital Movies, Video

How do you determine the video quality of an iTunes TV show?


Does anybody know how to determine the video encoding quality for a given TV show or movie from the iTunes Store (before purchasing)? I’ve tried Get Info but it’s useless.

When the iTS first started selling videos, they encoded them in 320 x 240 (which is similar to the quality you’d get from VHS) but starting around September 2006 they started encoding them in 640 x 480 (which is near dvd quality).  I’ve been thinking about buying some older episodes of Battlestar Gallactica and I don’t want to get stuck with a 320 x 240 video file because they look like absolute shit on a 50″ plasma.

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, Digital Movies, iTunes, Movies, Video

Apple TV review from Ars Technica


In case you haven’t seen this (or aren’t sick of Apple TV posts), Ars Technica has a very nice, detailed, and thorough review of the Apple TV.

If you’re thinking about buying one, I recommend reading their review…and mine.  😉

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Reviews, Video

How to upgrade the hard drive in Apple TV


I’m sure you’ve already read about people upgrading that measly 40GB hard drive. Well, Engadget has some sweet step-by-step instructions with pictures.

Personally, I’m not planning on doing this since I haven’t maxed out the hard drive…yet.

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, How-To, Video

Review: Apple TV


apple-tv-menu.jpg I got my Apple TV this past Thursday and have been using it the past two nights. Everything about it is Apple-esque: the user interface is gorgeous, setup was extremely easy, integration with iTunes was perfect, synchronizing and streaming content performed flawlessly, and watching shows, film trailers, iTunes previews, etc. worked perfectly.

Overall, it rocks! But, as with anything, there is always some room for improvement. Here are the details:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, iTunes, Reviews, Video

Apple TV review from Walt Mossberg and David Pogue


The initial reviews are in: Walt Mossberg (From PC to TV — via Apple TV) and David Pogue (Apple TV Has Landed) give the Apple TV a thumbs up. Walt Mossberg summed it up nicely:

We’ve been testing Apple TV for the past 10 days or so, and our verdict is that it’s a beautifully designed, easy-to-use product that should be very attractive to people with widescreen TV sets and lots of music, videos, and photos stored on computers. It has some notable limitations, but we really liked it. It is classic Apple: simple and elegant.

Some points of interest:

  • Video and music that was streamed to the device did not hiccup or stutter on a 802.11g WiFi network (Walt Mossberg)
  • Setup was incredibly simple (Walt Mossberg)
  • After syncing your iPod to iTunes, Apple TV remembers where you stopped watching or listening to a movie, TV show, or song (David Pogue)
  • Pictures cannot be streamed but Apple plans on adding that feature soon (Walt Mossberg)
  • Only files from one computer will be synced/copied to Apple TV. The other 5 computers can only stream content to Apple TV (Walt Mossberg)
  • In iTunes, Apple created a page for ‘Apple TV podcast showcase’ (iTunes link)

The primary limitation that Walt Mossberg highlights is the lack of content that can be directly streamed from the Internet to Apple TV. Currently, only movie trailers, preview clips of songs, TV shows, and movies can be streamed. Another complaint was how

Hopefully, Logitech will update their Harmony remote control database to include commands for the Apple TV.

So far, things are looking good…

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Reviews, Video

Gizmodo’s Apple TV Unboxing Pics


appletv-unboxing.jpg

Gizmodo’s got the unboxing pics. Check ’em out!

Can’t wait to get mine…two more days. 🙂

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Video

A demo of a multi-touch display (this is worth watching)


Jeff Han, founder of Perceptive Pixel, gave a 5 minute demo of their 8 foot multi-touch display at the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) 2007 conference. Loic Le Meur (EVP at Six Apart) recorded it and posted it on vpod.tv.

Have you seen the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise? If so, remember that scene when he’s looking at pictures on a “computer” and he’s using both of his hands to move the pictures around? Well, that’s what this multi-touch display allows you to do. VERY, very cool. In fact, it’s so impressive that even my girlfriend was blown away (and that’s saying something!).

Trust me, it’s worth watching.

Filed under: Technology, Video

Apple TV has shipped (for real)


I just checked my order status and I can say with 100% confidence that my Apple TV has been shipped via FedEx with an estimated delivery date of this Friday, March 23. Sweet!

I’m debating whether or not to post un-boxing pics (if you want me to, post a comment!) but I will definitely post my initial impressions by the end of this weekend or early next week so stay tuned!

Update (3/22/2007) My Apple TV was delivered this morning – one day ahead of FedEx’s estimated delivery date.  Nice!  I know what I’m doing when I get home from the office.  😉

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Movies, Video

Hands-on impression of Amazon Unbox on Tivo


Gizmodo posted their hands-on experience with Amazon Unbox on a Series 3 HD Tivo and Charlie White says it’s “off to a fair start”…but I’d rather say the execution of the service is less than ideal. The key drawbacks are usability and the one technology we all love: DRM. Here’s the skinny:

  • After renting a movie, it takes up to 15 minutes your Tivo to start downloading the movie
  • You can’t watch the movie until it is 100% downloaded (one person commented that it took 5+ hours for a movie to finish downloading on his Comcast cable connection)
  • If you cancel the download before it’s completed, you’ll have to pay the rental fee, again. So, you’re shit outta luck if your router locks up or your internet connection fails.
  • Good ‘ole DRM…after the movie is downloaded, it will expire after 30 days BUT, here’s the kicker, if you click Play, the movie will expire after 24 hours. Sweet, huh? We can thank the paranoid movie studios for that.
  • The quality of the movies were standard definition. They saw compression artifacts (aka macroblocking) and felt the picture (The Illusionist) wasn’t very sharp. They didn’t say which version they downloaded but I’m assuming it was the “Tivo Best Quality File.”
  • Last but not least, no Mac support.

So far, every movie download service does not offer the equivalent to buying or renting a physical DVD or HD-DVD/Blu-ray disc. Those that want to rent or buy digital movies have to concede one or more things. For example, no surround sound, the 24-hour expiration (which is an insult), etc. There are several people out there who need more than 24 hours to finish watching a movie (I know, crazy, but they exist).

Surprisingly, the only service (that I know of) that offers HD movies for download is the Xbox Live Marketplace but there are also drawbacks to that service.

Well, cheers to another video download service that’s not perfect. Hopefully, Apple will get it right with iTunes and Apple TV…

Filed under: Digital Movies, Movies, Reviews, Technology, Video

Amazon Unbox integrates with Tivo


If you own a Tivo Series 2 or Series 3 DVR, you can now buy/rent digital videos from Amazon Unbox and watch them on your Tivo. I guess that’s a nice option to have if you own a Tivo but I’m curious to see if this partnership will actually increase sales for Amazon. You may or may not know but Amazon Unbox has been generating lackluster results and working with Tivo is one way for Amazon to try and spice things up a bit. Personally, I don’t think this will improve sales all that much for Amazon Unbox.

I’ve had zero interest in this service because I have no desire to watch a movie or TV show at my computer desk. At least, Amazon understands this issue and has created a solution for you to watch those shows in your living room…but it won’t make a dent in Apple’s momentum. iTunes is where it’s at for digital content and I don’t see anything taking its place in the near future.

Now, all that being said, there is one nice thing I noticed about Amazon Unbox: when you buy a show/movie, you get to download it in 3 different qualities. For example, here are the options for an episode of ’24’:

amazon-unbox.png

I hope iTunes offers something similar…like an HD version and a DVD-quality version.

Here’s to another ecosystem for digital shows. We now have: iTunes, Netflix Watch Now, Xbox 360 Video Marketplace, and WalMart. Am I missing any?? *sigh*

Filed under: Digital Movies, DVR, Movies, Video

Free South Park episode (in HD) on Xbox Live Marketplace


Comedy Central and Xbox Live are giving away South Park’s first ever HD episode for free. That’s right – free. It will be free for the next two weeks (starting today). The episode they’re giving away is from 2004: ‘Good Times with Weapons’ (i.e., the ‘South Park Ninjas’ episode).

If you don’t have an Xbox 360 and are planning on getting one, get it at Best Buy between March 20 – April 3 because they will give you this episode on HD-DVD for free. Already have an Xbox 360 but want to buy the HD-DVD add-on drive? Don’t worry, Best Buy’s got you covered: you’ll get this HD-DVD for free with the purchase of the add-on drive, too.

FYI, this HD episode is 1GB so be patient…unless if you’re one of those lucky people with Verizon Fios.

Filed under: Bargains, HD DVD, Microsoft, Video, Xbox 360

Windows DreamScene Preview: Initial Impressions


Since Microsoft won’t be releasing the final version of DreamScene until mid-2007, they decided to release a “preview” version. I noticed it in Windows Update back on February 16 and finally had the chance to check it out. For those of you who are not familiar with DreamScene, it allows you to replace your desktop wallpaper with a video (in .mpg or .wmv formats) that plays on your desktop.

DreamScene comes with one video, which is an animated version of the standard ‘Vista wallpaper’ but you can change it to any .mpg or .wmv video file. Here’s how to download and enable DreamScene:

  1. Click the Windows start button
  2. In the search box, enter “windows ultimate extras”
  3. In the search results, click “Windows Ultimate Extras.” This will open the Windows Update window.
  4. You should see DreamScene listed in the “Windows Ultimate Extras available for download” section. If not, you probably already installed it (you can verify if it was installed by clicking the “View update history” link).
  5. Install DreamScene.
  6. After installation, right-click on your desktop and choose “Personalize.”
  7. When the Personalization window opens, click “Desktop Background.”
  8. In the Location drop-down list, choose “Windows DreamScene Content” (see image).
  9. After choosing this option, you’ll be able to choose which video you’d like to play. After choosing the video, click “OK.”

Once you have DreamScene enabled, there are shortcuts to 1.) pause the video and 2.) to choose a different video file:

To pause the video, right-click on your Desktop and choose “Pause DreamScene.” See below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Microsoft, Reviews, Technology, Video, Vista, Vista Ultimate Extras, Windows

Another PC vs. Mac Commercial


Here’s another funny Apple commercial…actually, a lot funnier than the previous ‘Vista Allow or Deny’ one I posted. Enjoy!

Filed under: Apple, MacOSX, Microsoft, Video, Vista, Windows, YouTube