Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Steve Jobs Is Now The Evil Dictator Of His Own Ad.

By Benedict Wee

25 years ago Apple launched an advertisment that promised to free the mindless zombies from the "evil" corporation that was IBM. It was a low-cost production but it captivated the minds of the public and soon Apple was symbolized as the company that challenged conformity.

Zip to the present and Apple has now become the evil corporation it once fought. Thus, it is befitting that Mr Jobs got a taste of his own medicine courtesy of DoubleTwist:

DoubleTwist is an iTunes-like media management program that syncs music/photos/videos to (almost) any gadget you own such as Personal Media/MP3 Players, mobiles, cameras and camcorders. It also allows you to share files between friends/family using the same program.

The people who've made DobubleTwist have been a thorn at Apple's side for awhile now as their software was first released for Mac OSX, posing a threat to iTunes as they could only sync with iPhones and iPods which meant mac users were once relegated to purchasing Apple-only products.

DoubleTwist Link


Acer's Android Phone: The A1.

By Benedict Wee

Details about Acer's Android phone have been posted on the eXpansys site for France and Germany. The A1 will be the first of its kind to run Android 2.0 (a.k.a Donut) on a 768 MHz processor and will retail for 389.99 Euros/NZ$795.22 without a contract.

Other specifications of the smartphone include 3.5G/WiFi connections, a 5MP camera with auto focus, GPS, microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Though they're taking pre-orders right now, no launch date has been announced yet.


New Apple Tablet Rumors

By Benedict Wee

January 19 2010 has been reported by iLounge to be the specific date when Apple will announce its much-speculated tablet to the world.

Other newly rumored details of the tablet; it runs the iPhone OS on a 10.7-inch screen with a high enough resolution to read books, newspapers and magazines and there will be two versions, one with 3G connections and one without. The 3G version will be like a giant iPhone 3GS while the non-3G one will be a giant iPod Touch.

The Apple tablet is expected to hit around the May/June period (the months where new iPhones are launched) and though these rumors come from a reliable source, they're still subject to Steve Job's scrutiny before it reaches the manufacturing stage. There is a 20% chance that he might kill it.



Monday, September 28, 2009

250GB Playstation 3 Slim Coming To New Zealand Soon

By Benedict Wee

If you love streaming tones of media on your television or if you're the "download-everything-from-the-Playstation Network Store" kind of person then good news, Sony's just confirmed that there is a 250GB version of the Playstation 3 Slim and it'll expect to hit New Zealand stores on the 15th of October.

The bigger-volumed console will retail for NZ$699 which -as usual- is a major rip off as Australia is charging Au$600/NZ$724.20 but it'll come with a bundle of either:

- Uncharted 2
- Singstar Motown
- Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time
- EyePet

That is NZ$25.20 more for a brand-new game.

If you've already gotten a Playstation 3 Slim don't fret about the smaller 120GB space as you can always expand it by attaching an external HDD.

EB Games NZ Won't Be Stocking PSPgos Either.

By Benedict Wee

Looks like the PSPgo hate has spread to New Zealand. EB Games has just sent word that they will not be stocking Sony's new handheld which will be released this week internationally. The decision isn't final however as they said the situation could change in the future.

It makes sense though, selling something that would end up cannibalizing your business would be pretty silly.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

PSPgo: Retailers Don't Want It. No-Go For UMD Transfer Program.

By Benedict Wee

Sony has confirmed that they currently do not have any plans for an exchange system that will allow you to convert your UMD-based PSP games into digital versions for their latest portable console system.

The PSPgo -which will be released internationally next week- does not have a UMD reader, rather it relies on an internal hard drive to download and play games.

Not being able to play their current collection of games would be a huge barrier for those who already own a PSP though it might appeal to those who do not already own Sony's handheld as the PSPgo is lighter and slimmer compared to its predecessor. Sony says that due to legal issues they will not be able to carry out an exchange system for PSP owners but they are working on finding a solution.

The PSPgo looks to be stirring up some controversy with its imminent release, with rumors that the downloadable games would cost more than the physical retail versions and they won't be available on the same day online as the ones you can get in the store. Also, certain retailers from the Netherlands and Australia have commented that they won't be stocking the new portable console and though they have not given specific reasons why, it is clear that the PSPgo's digital distribution model would be a threat to their business of selling and trading video games.

We've contacted EB Games in New Zealand and asked if they'll carry the handheld and will wait for a comment from them.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Sale: 1-Day Selling Criterion Desk with USB and iPod Docks

By Benedict Wee

If you're looking for a way to organize your PC and the seemingly endless amount of gadgets and USB devices then you might want to think about getting the Criterion Desk which is on sale at NZ$199.99 over at 1-Day.

The desk -which usually goes for NZ$398.95- comes in silver/maple and has a built-in 4-port USB hub and an iPod dock with a stereo output jack. Shipping is an extra NZ$20 and it'll be dispatched starting Monday.

Link: 1-Day

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Leaked Shots of Microsoft's Phones: The Turtle and Pure

By Benedict Wee

In addition to the awesome looking Courier tablet we saw yesterday there's a rumor going round that Microsoft is collaborating with Sharp to develop their own phones code-named project "Pink" to rival the iPhone.

Thankfully unlike Apple, security isn't very tight over at the company Mr Gates built because screenshots of the phones have been leaked and picked up by Gizmodo.

The phones -named "Turtle" and "Pure"- are said to be closely integrated with software the Zune HD currently runs, having music/movie services and an applications store. Besides that there is no other information available about the phones but it's pretty safe to say that it will come with the trinity of connections (WiFi, 3G, GPS).

These Sharp-designed mobiles aren't very esthetically pleasing and I'm hoping they're just concept shots, it's good to know at least that Microsoft isn't just content to sit on its ass while the iPhone continues to be the choice smartphone globally.


NZ Elite Xbox 360s Finally Get Price Cut

By Benedict Wee

As reported earlier last month, the Xbox 360 Elite in New Zealand has gotten its anticipated price deduction, dropping NZ$100 to NZ$499 while the soon-to-be-phased-out Pro has dropped to NZ$449 from NZ$499. The Arcade's price-tag remains the same.

Here are the official price checks:

Elite 120GB - US$299.99/NZ$412.49
Pro 60GB - US$249.99/NZ$343.74
Arcade - US$199/NZ$273.62

Elite 120GB - 199.99GBP/NZ$328.12
Pro 60GB - 169.99GBP/NZ$383.49
Arcade - 129.99GBP/NZ$293.95

New Zealand
Elite 120GB - NZ$499
Pro 60GB - NZ$449
Arcade - NZ$349

Get Your Free HALO:ODST Premium Theme Now

By Benedict Wee

To celebrate the launch of HALO: ODST for the Xbox 360 Microsoft is giving away the HALO: ODST premium theme as a free download but only if you're an Xbox Live Gold Member (and over 18 here in New Zealand).

That is all.

Microsoft's Tablet Makes Me Want To Jump Into A Time Machine And Go To The Future

By Benedict Wee

It seems we won't be hearing about Apple's Tablet in the near future as they decided to stop being the revolutionary gadget designers they were once well known for and decided to concentrate on only minor upgrades of their current products (i.e. the iPod Touch 3rd Gen). That's alright though as Microsoft has decided to play catch up by releasing news on their version of a portable tablet computer.

The Courier is a device with two 7-inch touchscreens held together by a spine, giving it a book-like design. The screens are multi-touch enabled and are made for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus. The left screen of the Courier is primarily used for reference and gathering information like surfing the web or checking through schedules while the right screen is used to document, paste and record information (presumably there will be a left-handed version that swaps screens). Transferring information like pictures, contacts, documents between screens is done by seamlessly flicking from one screen to another.

There is a 3MP camera with flash on the back of the Courier and charging might be possible through an inductive pad (meaning you don't have to plug it in).

No much else is known about Microsoft's tablet but more details are said to be arriving soon. Looks like I know what I want for Christmas.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Introducing: Digital Kiwi Price Checks

By Benedict Wee

In my never ending quest to find better deals (read: cheaper) on gadgets I've compiled a list of how much we pay for electronic devices such as mobiles, video game consoles, personal media players etc. in New Zealand and compared it with everyone else around the world. It's usually written in my trusty notebook (an actual paper one) but I keep forgetting to bring it along with me when I travel.

As such, I've decided to post the list of price comparisons in a separate blog which can be referenced easily and I'm making it accessible to everyone.

I try my best to compare similar products -and in the case of mobiles, price plans- using only their regular retail prices (RRP) and will leave out any special discounts or bundles as these are only temporary and are not indicative of prices you can find all year round. Permanent price-cuts will be updated on the Price Check blog and I will only report discounts, special offers and bundles on the main Digital Kiwi one.

The list is a small one for now but I'll be constantly updating it whenever I can. I hope you guys find it useful.

The link to the blog can be found here and on the sidebar.

Vodafone UK To Sell Budget Android Mobile HTC Tattoo Soon

By Benedict Wee

A quick browse in the mobile phones section of the Vodafone UK site has uncovered that the overseas telco will be selling the HTC Tattoo in October and we were right about the phone having interchangeable covers.

The Tattoo is HTC's attempt at producing a cheap handheld targeted at those with a smaller budget and introducing non-smartphone users to Android.

The launch date comes at the perfect time as rival provider; T-Mobile UK is expected to release their own low-cost prepaid Android phone -The Pulse- in the same month for only 180GBP/NZ$433. It makes sense that the HTC Tattoo will cost around the same price as the Pulse.

If we're lucky enough we could see the phone on our shores too but do not not expect to have the luxury of a similarly low price tag as the HTC Magic Vodafone NZ currently sells costs NZ$519 (it's free in the UK) with a (much worse) 24 month contract.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Motorola CLIQ Promo Video

By Benedict Wee

I kinda like Motorola's name for their Android smatphone -The CLIQ- though I do have issues with the name of their user interface -MOTOBLUR- which sounds like something you'd do to your phone when you've had one too many beers.

That doesn't mean that it isn't smooth and easy to use however, as show in this promo video:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bear Tear Out Your Ribcage? There's An iPhone App For That.

It's funny cause many (obnoxious) people believe it's true.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zii Egg: Developer's Edition Videos

By Benedict Wee

With Apple releasing its next-gen iPod Touch sans camera I've decided to look to other power packed PMPs to purchase this year and since Microsoft has decided to only sell their Zune HD in the US, the only other viable option is Creative's Zii Egg.

I've talked about the player before and its specs are pretty decent: dual cameras, 1080p HD output, SDHC card slot, GPS and the ability to run Android make the Zii Egg an awesome device to own. Unfortunately for now the PMP remains in its "Developer's Edition" form which means it isn't meant to be sold to the general public but if you've been holding out for a next-gen device then there's nothing really stopping you from buying it online.

Here are some videos of the Zii Egg in action:

The Zii Egg (32GB) comes free when you purchase a Plasma SDK Starter Kit for US$399/NZ$559 online here.

Drop The Rate, Mate! Campaign Stands Behind IT Minister's MTR Decision Process

By Benedict Wee

Matthew Hooton, spokesperson for the Drop the Rate, Mate! campaign has commended Steven Joyce's (Communication and Information Technology Minister) decision to reject commercial offers on mobile termination rates from telco duopoly Vodafone and Telecom and will instead wait for the Commerce Commission to make a recommendation before making a decision.

"My Joyce's anouncement last week indicates he has made a commitment to following the proper process, and that is to be welcomed," said Hooton, "His announcement creates a great deal of confidence that the current process will lead to New Zealand's market rules being brought into line with international best practice, brining more competition and lower prices for consumers."

New Zealand has one of the highest call/text/data rates in the world and lacks an "unlimited" plan option despite selling mobiles at a high price. A good example is Vodafone's attempt to charge NZ$250 a month on a 2-year contract for the Apple iPhone 3G last year. The plan was eventually made cheaper due to public protest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kanye Is A Jerk... Even In Pokemon

As seen on GoNintendo

Motorola's CLIQ Called DEXT In UK, Free With Plan.

By Benedict Wee

Motorola CLIQ's brother in the UK -the DEXT- will be available exclusively on the Orange UK network come October and will be free with a 2-year 34.26GBP/NZ$79.75 a month plan.

First 250GB Xbox 360 Is A Modern Warfare 2 Bundle

By Benedict Wee

Microsoft's first Xbox 360 to come with a 250GB HDD will be a bundled pack that comes with 2 wireless controllers, a headset and a copy of Modern Warfare 2. The 360 will be a new black model with Modern Warfare 2 designs imprinted on the console and faceplate.

The bundle will be available on the same day as the international release date for Modern Warfare 2 on November 10. It costs US$399/NZ$564.60 in the US but since we get charged out of the world prices over here in New Zealand you will be expected to pay NZ$649. That's about $84 more.


Android 1.6 SDK Released

By Benedict Wee

Heads up developers. Google has released the SDK for the 1.6 version of Android (a.k.a Donut) for you to tinker around with. The newest update promises CDMA compatibility, screen resolution scaling, gesture support, Quick Search (a unified search function that lets you look for contacts, applications and stuff on the internet) and the aesthetically pleasing Android Market revamp.

Expect Donut to roll out to Android smartphones somewhere in October, though it is not confirmed if New Zealand will get the luxury of getting the update. One can hope.

In the meantime, check out the awesome cute video introduction.


Vodafone Sends Out Invites For Smartphone Night

By Benedict Wee

If you've signed up for pre-launch iphone 3GS notifications from Vodafone then you might have received an invitation to spend an evening with the smartphones they are currently selling:

As you have told us you are interested in the Apple iPhone, we would love you to come to our Get Smart evening so we can show you the latest smart phones. From Apple to Blackberry, HTC and Nokia, and we’ll also showcase the cool 3G Netbook and Vodem sticks.

There are so many cool things available directly to your mobile phone including Internet, email, maps, GPS, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So, we thought it was a about time we hosted a bit of 'show and tell' where you can play with some of our leading smart phones and see things in action.

We will have our product experts on hand to give you demonstrations plus some nibbles so you can munch while you play!

If you have been contemplating getting a smartphone or smart device from Vodafone, we have a SPECIAL deal just for you on the night!

See you there!

The team at Vodafone Retail

It doesn't sound impressive unfortunately. There are no signs indicating that they'll be introducing any new models as the email suggests that they'll just be peddling old smartphones, 3G netbooks and Vodem sticks, relegating the night to nothing but a "late-night-shopping-at-one-store-with-finger food" event.

I'm also betting the SPECIAL deals that they'll be offering aren't something to write home about either.

The smartphone evening will be held on the 30th September (Wednesday?!) in the 3 major cities of New Zealand and will last for about 90 minutes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fake Gadget Tuesdays: The Meizu M8

By Benedict Wee

The folks over in China are an innovative bunch when they want to be. After sifting through all the cheap electronic knock-offs, we've seen some decent gadgets popping up from time to time which could potentially give current phone manufacturers a run for their money. The Meizu M8 is one such device.

Obviously inspired by the iPhone, the M8 comes in a sleek 108 mm x 59 mm x 12 mm with a 3.4-inch touchscreen, 3.2 MP camera with video recording capabilities, plays multiple audio and video file extensions and comes WiFi-ready. Unfortunately it only works on 900/1800 MHz frequencies so there's no 3G. A pity considering the in-house programed Operating System -Mymobile- they use is optimized for mobile internet usage and it has an open SDK (read: App Store).

I can't find the exact price of the mobile and where it's being sold as the info I've dug up on my research seem to suggest that there are many places which sell pirated versions of the M8 or they're scam sites. Either way it's not something I'd recommend right now with the influx of budget Android phones hitting the overseas markets soon. Speaking of Android, Meizu has hinted strongly that their next smartphone will run Google's mobile OS so we could expect 3G capabilities to be present then.

Hitler Is Pissed Off At iPod Touches Without Cameras

By Benedict Wee

He's not the only one.


2 More Android Phones By Motorola And LG

By Benedict Wee

Both Motorola and LG have officially announced their Android phones in the past couple of days which are expected to launch by the holiday season in the US and UK.

Like the HTC Hero, Motorola's CLIQ (once known as Morrison) comes with its own unique user interface -MOTOBLUR- which displays real-time updates from your friend's/family's social networking accounts such as facebook, twitter, myspace and picasa in individual widgets on the home screen.

Following Apple's iPhone and Microsoft's Window Phones, all of your accounts can be streamlined under one MOTOBLUR account which backs-up all your information so should you lose your phone or purchase a new one you won't need to re-input your user names and passwords again. The lost/stolen phone can also be tracked down using its internal GPS via the MOTOBLUR website.

Tech specs of the CLIQ: A 5 Megapixel Camera which allows 24 Frames Per Second video, WiFi and 3G connections, GPS, 3.5mm headphone jack and a slide out QWERTY keyboard makes it the first phone running Android 1.5 to have a physical keyboard.

Not much is known about the similar-looking-but-less-sexier-named GW620 by LG except it too sports a slide out QWERTY keyboard and a 3.5mm headphone jack. However, from the pictures we can gather that the phone will run a stock version of Android sans a specialized interface and since LG is known to be in a cosy relationship with Microsoft developing Windows Phones, they wouldn't be bothered to go out of their way to create a unique UI.

Let's hope we see some of these phones hitting our shores soon. The underpowered Vodafone HTC Magic has gotten real old, real fast.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Got Family/Friends In The US Right Now? Nokia 5800 Only NZ$341.59

By Benedict Wee is now selling the Nokia 5800 (the mobile you saw in the recent Star Trek movie) for only US$240/NZ$341.59, unlocked. That's NZ$557.41 cheaper than what Vodafone is selling over here. The sale lasts till 6am (US Central Time) tomorrow however so if you got mates/families in the States and want to get into the smartphone era for cheap then you best get moving.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is It Time To Move On From Apple?

By Benedict Wee

I woke up 75 minutes eariler than I normally do today because I was reading (and reporting) live updates about Apple's Rock and Roll iPod event. Why? Being a gadget lover and an Apple supporter will do this to you and I was really excited at the imminent announcement of a camera/microphone built-in iPod Touch which would essentially make the most-carried around device I use quadruple up as a point and shoot camera, camcorder and VoIP phone.

However that announcement never came. At first I thought maybe it was the lack of sleep making me miss the "iPod Touch with camera and microphone" segment, after all the rumors were fortified with a bazillion pictures of cases with holes in them right? Wrong. All we get is double the storage space and an upgrade of its processor. At the end of the event it was the iPod nano that made its built-in camera debut and even then it was disappointing as it would only be able to shoot videos.

So after taking a nap to make up for loss sleep I decided that to recap the past three months since the similarly disappointing WWDC event and I came to the conclusion that it might be time to move on from purchasing Apple products. Here are the main reasons why.

They're jerks:
Intense and Nazi-like security measures of your manufacturing company overseas (which admitted to breaking labour laws) that cause an employee to commit suicide when he lost a prototype, secretive and draconian policies when deciding what you'll allow in your App Store then pulling it with no reason or warning thereby frustrating both developers and users alike to the point that the US government has to step in, trying to silence people when the gadgets you made explode and endanger lives by only offering a replacement coupled with an iron-clad confidential agreement, making dumb statements such as hacking your devices would give rise to terrorism etc. cement Apple as first-class asswipes, not to mention the huge tsunami-size load of bad karma you bring home with you when you've purchased a product from them.

A detailed list can be found here.

They're also behind the times/lazy/greedy:
I had to live without FM radio for about 5 years now since iPods never came with them and I grinned and bore it when the iPhone 3G retained its 2MP camera. Because Apple said so, I was willing to believe that the features they omitted from their products were because they found that it wasn't necessary and no one wanted them (except for me).

However after a couple of years of blindly following them I realized that certain patterns emerged. They once said that no one wanted video on a tiny screen but then released the iPod Video the following year, they said no one wanted flash-based players but then they launched the Shuffle and then they said no one wanted FM radios in their PMP but their latest Nano announced today comes with the feature.

It seems like Apple wants to artificially hold back on the development of their gadgets in order to sell as many iterations of the same device. The iPhone 3G was the same iPhone as its first generation counterpart with a 3G connection and the iPhone 3GS is the 3G with video recording capabilities and a compass. So the iPhone they're going to announce next year will come with... a radio tuner? Instead of making leaps and bounds in their technology like the rest of the electronic manufacturers do they make only minor improvements with the knowledge that chances are we'd be giving it up to buy a newer version one year later. This creates a never ending cycle of drones who buy Apple's slightly-improved products over and over, hoping that the next time they will come up with something revolutionary.

So there you go, some very valid reasons on why it is time to move on from Apple. I guess it's a good time as any considering there is a huge selection of gadgets available in the market that is cheaper and constantly increasing in numbers. One of the main reasons I stayed with Apple was because they streamlined personal data (i.e. music, contacts and email) for me but with Google's Android OS appearing on everything from smartphones and budget mobiles, to Personal Media Players (PMPs), to tablets, to televisions etc. the obsessive compulsive side of me is sated in terms of having an account that organizes everything across devices. (Link to a list of Android devices here)

As for which portable player I'll be buying this year, there are many better alternatives to iPods hitting the market soon which means you can look to them for all-in-one devices packed with the latest technology. PMPs such as Creative's Zii Egg which runs Android might have a funny sounding name but it comes with dual-cameras, 1080p HD output, GPS and 3D hardware graphics acceleration and the Android Market to download applications from.

The Zii Egg

This is not to say I'm saying goodbye forever. If Apple cleans up their act and come up with something revolutionary that got me as excited as I was when they first announced the iPhone I just might go back and buy stuff from them. But until then, consider my membership to the house of Apple cancelled.

Apple iPod Event Details

By Benedict Wee

Here are the details of Apple's Rock and Roll Event.

iTunes 9
- 30,000 Ringtones for iPhones available in the iTunes store. US$1.29 each.
- Home Sharing: Copy songs, movies and TV shows amongst 5 computers in your house.
- iTunes LP: Flip though photos and individual songs which display lyrics directly in iTunes. Custom video interviews.
- iTunes Extras: DVD-like content for movies such as commentary and interactive menus.

- "Cleaner" looking iTunes Store.
- App Organization: Arrange apps the same way you do on your iPhone/iPod Touch.
- iTunes 9 is available today.

- Phil (Schiller) just compared games from the iTunes Store with the ones available on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. Ignorant prick, quantity is not quality.

iPhone and iPod Touch Games
- Assassin's Creed 2: Discovery. Side-scrolling action.
- Riddim Ribbon. DJ music-mixing.
- Nova. First-person shooter with multiplayer via Bluetooth or WiFi.
- EA titles: Madden, Need for Speed Shift, Command and Conquer and NBA Live.

New iPod Touches
- 8GB for US$199/NZ$286.
- 32GB for US$299/NZ$430.
- 64GB for US$399/NZ$574.
- 32GB and 64GB versions will be 50% faster and run OpenGL ES 2.0, the same as the iPhone 3GS.

New iPod Classic
-160GB for US$249/NZ$358.

New iPod Shuffles
- New colors: Black, silver, pink, green and blue.
- 2GB for US$59/NZ$85.
- 4GB for US$79/NZ$114.
- 4GB Special Edition made of polished steel. US$99/NZ$142.

New iPod Nano
- Camera for video.
- Microphone.
- FM Radio.
- Voiceover.
- 8GB for US$149/NZ$241.
- 16GB for US$179/NZ$257.

(Note: The NZ$ shown is based on a direct currency conversion of the US dollar. Expect the prices of the iPods to be higher.)