Koolio

Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

New MacBook Pro vs. Old MacBook Pro


If you’re debating between getting the new MBP (i.e., the ones with multitouch and Penryn processor) or the old MBP, you’ll find AnandTech’s benchmark tests very informative.

The net: Penryn’s biggest advantage is in battery life. Performance is a tad better (depending on the test) but not a lot. So, for some of you, the reduced prices of the old MBP may be the right option for you.

Filed under: Apple, Laptop, MacBook Pro, Mobile Computing, Reviews

AppleTV HD video review round-up


promo_appletv_box20080115.pngThis week Apple finally released version 2.0 of the Apple TV software that was demo’d by Steve Jobs at this year’s MacWorld. This is a big deal because it finally makes the Apple TV a lot more functional – adding the ability to buy and/or rent movies (SD or HD) and TV shows. However, the one question I had was, ‘just how good is the HD video quality compared to Blu-ray/HD-DVD?’ Answer: it’s surprisingly good…ranking #2 – right behind Blu-ray/HD-DVD.

It’s def worth reading the reviews as they have screen shots comparing AppleTV, Blu-ray/HD-DVD, HD Cable, and standard DVD:

I haven’t had time to rent an HD movie on mine, yet, but I’ll post a review of my experience when I do.

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, Digital Movies, HDTV, Home Theater, Movies, Reviews

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.

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

Performance comparison between Intel-based Macs


Primate Labs released a CPU and memory performance app named Geekbench 2 and they posted test results for almost every Intel-based Mac that’s been released over the past 2 years.

Their conclusion:

There’s not a huge change in performance across most of Apple’s Intel-based Mac lineup (the high-end MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo is only 30% faster than the low-end MacBook Core Duo, for example). The only big changes occur at the low end with the (discontinued) single-core Mac mini, or at the high end with the quad-core Mac Pro.

If you’re thinking about getting a Mac, you might want to check out their results.

[via MacSlash]

Filed under: Apple, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacOSX, Reviews

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

Review: Dyson Root 6 handheld vacuum


dyson-root-6.jpgI’ve always wanted a good handheld vacuum but it’s not something that’s at the top of my list of purchases (who wants to vacuum, right?). For the past couple of years, we’ve been getting by with our crappy Dirt Devil (which is loud as hell and doesn’t have good suction). Due to its crappy performance, we rarely used it – instead, we just busted out our Miele S168 upright vacuum. The Miele is a nice vacuum but it’s a pain in the butt to take it out, unravel the power cord, plug it in, etc. just to vacuum a small area. In comes the Dyson Root 6 handheld vacuum.

There are lovers and haters of Dyson vacuums. The people that I know who have a Dyson DC14/17 love it…and I can understand why. But, the Root 6 is a different animal because it’s cordless and has a short battery life. The latter is why I wasn’t sure if it was worth $150. Since I could return it after 30-days, I decided to give it a whirl.

Here are my findings and the answer as to whether or not I’m going to keep it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Dyson, Reviews, Vacuums

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

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

GooSync: Synchronize Google Calendar with your mobile phone


If you have a Google Calendar and want to synchronize it with your cell phone or PDA, then GooSync is something you should check out. GooSync does a 2-way synchronization between Google Calendar and your mobile phone. So, any appointments you make on your celly or PDA is synchronized to your Google Calendar and vice versa. Cost: free (for sync’ing 1 Google calendar). If you want to sync multiple Google calendars or shared calendars, you’ll have to pay £19.95 (GBP) for 12 months of service, which is $38.30 (USD)…too bad GooSync is a British company! 😉

To use GooSync, all you need to do is create a GooSync account and grant GooSync access to your Google Calendar (don’t worry, you can do this without giving your Google login credentials to GooSync). After you create your account, you select the type of cell phone you have and follow the instructions on how to install the GooSync software on your phone. For Windows Mobile devices, all you have to do is download and install a .CAB file. The installation varies depending on your phone type (and GooSync lists A LOT of supported phones). After the software is installed, you enter your GooSync login credentials and press the “sync” button. After 10 – 20 seconds, your calendars are synchronized.

I installed GooSync on my T-Mobile Dash (Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone) tonight and it works as advertised. Here are my pros/cons:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Calendar, Cellphone, Google, Reviews, Smartphone, Windows Mobile, Wireless

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

CNET Review of Windows Mobile 6 (Rating: Very Good)


wm6-standard-homescreen.jpgCNET has posted a review of Windows Mobile 6 and they gave it a 7.0 out of 10. This review is a bit more in-depth than the Pocketnow review I linked to in my ‘Windows Mobile 6 for T-Mobile Dash‘ post (the author could’ve done a better job differentiating the features between WM6 Standard and WM6 Professional). Here are some of the highlights:

  • Outlook Mobile can now display HTML email
  • Outlook Mobile supports email searching (you just type the letters and it will filter your emails)
  • Call history is associated with your contacts (see screenshot)
  • Calendar now displays a ribbon at the top of the screen so you can easily see your free/busy time (see screenshot)
  • Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition now comes with Mobile Office, which allows you to view and edit Word and Excel files but only view PowerPoint files (on Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition you had to install a 3rd party app to view these files). However, the editing capabilities are pretty thin: (who actually does massive edits on a smartphone, anyways?)

“We should note, however, that the editing capabilities are pretty light. In Word, you’re pretty much restricted to adding and deleting text and formatting type (such as bold, italic, underline, and highlight); while in Excel, you can insert rows and columns, sort, perform basic functions, and so forth.”

One thing that does not seem to be fixed (*sigh*) is that when you “close” an application Windows Mobile hides it instead of closing it. When an application is closed, it should be closed (just like it is in Windows XP/Vista). Why does that matter? Well, when an app is hidden it still utilizes memory and when you don’t have enough free memory the performance drops and you can encounter memory errors.

Even though WM6 has some room for improvement it sounds like it’s worth an upgrade. Heck, since it’s free for T-Mobile Dash owners, I’m definitely upgrading. If I had to pay for it, I most likely wouldn’t (thanks to the iPhone!).

Filed under: Microsoft, Mobile Phone, Mobile Software, Reviews, Smartphone, Windows Mobile, Wireless

Review: Brookstone (Ambient Devices) Weather Wizard


brookstone-weatherwatcher.pngI bought the Brookstone Weather Wizard (which is made by Ambient Devices) as a Christmas gift for my weather junkie-girlfriend and thought I’d post a review now that we’ve been using it for over a month. And, I must say, it has delivered on its goal of allowing the viewer to get the weather forecast at a glance. For example, prior to buying it, I never checked the weather because it was so time consuming to get the weather forecast from the TV. Now, I get it in 2 seconds.

Overall, I recommend it but there are a few things you should know before you spend your hard earned cash on it:

Pros:

  • The E-Ink display technology is pretty cool – it does a good job of making you feel like you’re reading ink on real paper, which is easier to read than traditional LCDs found in most other weather devices.
  • The various weather icons are very intuitive, have a ‘clean’ design, and are large enough to read from a decent viewing distance.
  • It’s the perfect size – not too big, not too small.
  • Includes a magnet so you can attach it to your fridge.
  • Includes a foldable stand so you can display it on a desk, nightstand, etc.
  • Automatically determines your location (we just inserted a pair of AAA batteries and after 5 – 10 mins the weather was displayed for Boston)
  • Clock is sychronized by satellite

Cons: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Ambient Devices, Gadgets, Reviews, Technology, Weather, Wireless

Review: Netflix Watch Now Service


Netflix Watch Now HomepageWell, I’ve finally given the Watch Now service a test drive. Overall, the service has been implemented very nicely (assuming you don’t mind sitting in front of your computer to watch movies) and is not reminiscent of the hi-cc-up-ing streaming videos nor did I have to wait 1+ hour for the movie to download before playing. While the functional implementation was executed very well the delivery is very poor – I can only watch movies at my computer and the video quality was below average.

Now, onto the review:

Hardware:

  • Pentium 4, 3.0Ghz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Internet Explorer 7
  • RCN cable modem service (10mbs down/800k up)

Installation:

  • In order to watch the ‘instant shows,’ you have to install Netflix’s video player (which is embedded in your browser). I was able to install the video player without any issues. Installation took about 2-3 minutes.
  • After the player installed, I got a prompt telling me that I had to update Windows Media Player. The update went smoothly and took an additional 10-20 seconds.
  • I was ready to watch my first ‘instant show’ within 5 minutes.
  • Rating: A

Video Playback:
Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Digital Movies, IPTV, Movies, Netflix, Reviews

How to Stop Spam Email


Tired of being spammed? Not happy with your email’s spam filter? Well, believe it or not, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a VERY effective email address that you can forward your spam email to. After forwarding your spam email to the FTC’s email addy, your spam email will decrease by 90 – 100%. All you have to do is forward any spam email you receive to the following email addy: spam@uce.gov. After about 1 – 2 months, you’ll notice a dramatic drop in spam email. Now, you may still receive a handful of spam per month but keep forwarding them to the FTC and they will eventually stop.

I started doing this about 6-8 months ago when my .Mac email account was compromised and, after about 2 months, all spam email stopped. I find this to be much more effective than relying on spam filters. With this method, you’ll never have to worry about your spam filter catching false positive emails and you help the FTC get back at the spammers. 🙂

Filed under: Email, How-To, Reviews, Spam

Another iPhone Hands-On Review


PC Mag’s Cade Metz was another person who got to use the iPhone during MacWorld…for 10 mins. He didn’t get to spend 1 hour with it like Andy Ihnatko but his opinions are very similar to Andy’s. His overall impression of the iPhone:

“Ten minutes isn’t much, but I can safely say that the iPhone is even more impressive than it appeared during the Jobs keynote. And that’s saying something.”

So far, everyone who has been able to demo the iPhone are in agreement about the following:

  • The iPhone is very easy and intuitive to use.
  • The iPhone’s multi-touch display works extremely well.
  • The performance of the iPhone is fast – no lag or hiccups when switching between applications.

This is where some of the reviews differ:

  • Most reviewers said the call/voice quality is superb but some people (perhaps, the only person), like Cade Metz, have reported that call quality was so-so.
  • People who have spent more than 5-10 minutes using the iPhone (Andy Ihnatko) felt the touch-sensitive keyboard was pretty easy to use. Those that spent 10 minutes or less feel so-so about it but pretty much all feel it will get easier with more use.

The good news: of all the hands-on reviews I’ve read, the conclusions are similar, if not, the same. The bad news (as we all know) is the multi-year exclusivity that Cingular/ATT has on the iPhone. The real question about the iPhone will be Cingular/ATT’s service and how much they will charge for the data plan (I have a feeling Cingular/ATT will create an “iPhone data plan” and charge a premium).

Filed under: Apple, Gadgets, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Reviews, Smartphone, Technology

Switched to Mac because of Windows Vista


Now, this is not something you read about everyday – Erika Jonietz from MIT’s Technology Review magazine (a great magazine, btw) wrote an article about how she is now using her Mac as her primary computer after using Windows Vista Ultimate. Uh, this is not what Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer wants Vista to do.

Filed under: Apple, MacOSX, Microsoft, Reviews, Technology, Vista

Windows Vista Ultimate: Initial Impressions


Vista LogoBefore providing my initial impressions I want you all to know that I’ve been a Mac convert since 2003. Since I bought my PowerBook G4, I’ve used it 98% of the time when computing at home (unfortunately, I use an HP nc6400 laptop w/WinXP Pro at work). Also, over the past year or so, I’ve tuned-out all of the Vista-hype so I went into Vista knowing only about Aero and Windows Media Center.

Ok, with that out of the way…about 2 weeks ago, a buddy of mine offered me a free legitimate retail copy of Windows Vista Ultimate (via his MSDN subscription) and I gladly accepted. So, after downloading the 2.5GB file for about 12 hours, I burned it to a DVD and installed it. After running Vista Ultimate for about 2 weeks, here are my initial impressions:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Microsoft, Reviews, Technology, Vista

A 45min iPhone Hands-On Review


iPhone
Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times got to spend 45 mintues using the iPhone. His overall conclusion: it’s practically perfect. If you’re interested in the iPhone (who isn’t, right?), his article is worth a read. Below are my 4 primary concerns and thoughts after reading his article:

  1. Touchscreen: Apparently, it works flawlessly. I was concerned with how well and accurate it would work. After reading his article, I’m less worried about it. According to Andy, “This is the simplest phone ever” – wow, that’s a big statement. If most consumers feel the same way, then it’ll be very easy for Apple to meet their goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008 (read the 3rd to last paragraph).
  2. Keyboard: Andy states, “After 30 seconds, I was already typing faster with the iPhone than I ever have with any other phone.” That’s a pretty big statement – ’nuff said.
  3. Performance: No lags/hiccups/pauses whatsoever. This was a huge concern of mine – especially, since we don’t know how powerful the processor is. For reference, my T-Mobile Dash uses an Intel ARM processor running at 203Mhz and it can get bogged down when running several apps or running multimedia apps. What processor does the iPhone use? Rumor is Apple is using a Samsung processor at 400Mhz.
  4. Cingular Service/Network: I’ve never used Cingular (I’ve only used two cell providers: ATT Wireless and T-Mobile) so I don’t know how good the coverage is in the Boston-area nor do I know how good their EDGE network is. This being said, I have friends using Cingular in the Boston-area and they’re happy with the service. At the end of the day, we all know that surfing the web and the use of data-intensive applications will be slooow – thanks to EDGE.
  5. No 3G: I’m still baffled as to why Apple did not include a 3G-capable radio in the iPhone. Heck, Cingular is the only GSM provider in the US that has 3G and the iPhone is exclusively available on Cingular – why not take advanatage of their 3G network? Btw, there are rumors that the 2nd Gen iPhone will have 3G.

Well, this helps answer some of our questions/concerns but will a cell phone w/o any dedicated buttons be right for you? To find out, it looks like we’ll see each other at the nearest Apple Store in June! 🙂

Update: Looks like the processor may be an Intel Xscale after all.

Filed under: Apple, Gadgets, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Reviews, Smartphone, Technology