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Nike + iPod August 2, 2006

Posted by Chris in Apple, Music, Nike, Reviews, Sport, Technology.
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Apple have joined up with Nike to bring you Nike+. What is it? Well, Apple provides the iPod, Nike provides the running shoes, and Apple joins them together; wirelessly ofcoarse. How does it work? If you buy the special Nike+ shoes (and yes, it does only work with special Nike+ shoes) and the iPod connector, you can insert a small reciever in your shoe, attach another small connector on the end of your iPod, and you are ready to go.

“This sounds all well and good, but what’s the point?” says the sceptic reader. When you run, this new connectivity between your shoes and your iPod allows your iPod to calculate how far you have run, how fast you are running and how many calories you burned. After you have completed your workout, just plug your iPod (it only works with iPod Nano) into your computer and nikeplus.com will show you how well you did. You also have the option to create goals and set challenges for your friends.

The Nike+ Running shoes are available in a few styles, my favourite being the Nike Air Moire. They are extremely light and very comfortable. Also available are the Nike+ arm bands which look undoubtedly better than the official iPod ones. This, although a little pricey, is very comfortable, and when running, you hardly even notice it’s there. It also protects you iPod from sweat (apparently).

How much does this cost? Only £19! However, that’s excluding the Running Shoes (£65), the Armband (£20), the iPod (from £99) and ofcoarse the music. But even though it is not the cheapest way to excercise, it certainly gives it a bit more interest and is worth the buy. Go on! you know you want it!

Apple 20-inch Intel 2.0GHz Core Duo iMac Review July 27, 2006

Posted by Chris in Apple, Reviews, Technology.
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Specifications

20-inch Display
2.0 GHz Intel Core-duo
2048 MB RAM
256 MB Graphics Card

The Intel iMac has everything the G5 version has but with a new core; a dual core to be precise. This allows the iMac to run faster than ever. Of coarse, installing 2 GB of RAM helps this cause, along with the Radeon X1600 graphics card.

The iMac comes with the usual iLife suite, which includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and Garage Band. All this software has been completed extremely professionally and is very intuitive to use.

Things that impress me about the iMac, are the little finishing touches that show that Apple have really taken their time designing this product; such as the built-in iSight Camera and Microphone, and the FrontRow remote control, which sticks nicely to the side of the iMac through it’s built-in magnet, and of coarse the Apple logo, placed in the centre of your iMac.

Being a Windows and Apple user, naturally, I was keen to install Bootcamp straight away. (Bootcamp was released by Apple and creates partitions on your hard disk, allowing you to install Windows onto your Intel Based Mac.) To switch between operating systems, you must turn off your computer, and turn it back on again, whilst holding the option (alt) key. You then have the choice of either loading Mac OS X or Windows XP (Home or Pro).

Windows took around 40 minutes to install and runs extremely well. I now have the option to install and non-universal programs onto Windows, instead of using Rosetta.

When it comes to gaming, the iMac is an ideal compromise between professional work and gaming. Obviously there are many other machines out there much more capable of playing games than the iMac, however, with the 256 MB graphics card installed, games like Age of Empire III work very fast and are great to play.

The iLife suite is fantastic. One of my favourite applications is Garage Band. This allows you to record and make your own music. You can either plug in your Keyboard or Microphone, or if you don’t have an instrument, there are a variety of loops and sound effects at your disposal. Garage Band also features Podcast creation.

A great feature of OS X Tiger is the Widgets. Just click on the Widgets icon in your Doc, or press F12, and you are shown your local weather forecast, calculator, stocks and shares, or whatever you choose or download. (The apple website has a large selection to choose from).

Now for the important bit, how fast is the iMac? The iMac is fast. Loading basic applications such as safari takes about 1 second, like wise for Mail and iPhoto.

The iMac takes around 25 seconds to turn on and load OS X or Windows.

Loading more advanced applications such as Photoshop (in Windows) is also noticeably quicker than a 3.00 GHz Windows machine. Photoshop CS2 runs very well. It takes very little time to run advanced filters on images.

I installed Age of Empires III onto the iMac to see how well the graphics card could handle the graphics. On medium graphic settings the game runs very smoothly, even if your screen is filled with two fighting armies. On the highest settings, the frame rate is slow and it is unplayable. This computer is obviously not designed for gaming.

Overall, if you want to use this computer for graphic design, photo editing, the occasional game and even video editing, this is the computer for you.

And beware, you will grow accustomed to the 20inch screen very quickly and within a week it starts to look much smaller.

Design: 9/10
Performance: 9/10
Value: 7/10
Overall: 83%
Verdict: Even though the iMac may cost a bit more than your average PC, this is definitely not an average PC.

Mac Mini Review (G4) March 14, 2006

Posted by Chris in Reviews, Technology.
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Forget the new Intel Mac Mini, let me show you while the old Mini is as good as the new one. – and not just because it’s cheaper!

Specs used:

1.42 G4 processor
512 MB Ram
80 GB Hard Drive
Combo Drive
Airport Extreme
Bluetooth
Operating System: Mac OS X v10.4 (Tiger)
Price: £429 (£365.11 ex vat)

Accessories:

Standard Keyboard (£17.00)
Mighty Mouse (£35.00)

Before I was exposed to the power of an Apple Mac I was a 100% Windows user, even my PDA used Windows. Then one day, I went to a company to do some work and was confronted with a G4 Mac and told to get on with it, so I had no choice but make friends with the apple. Despite the one-buttoned mouse and the command button, I was getting used to the peculiar operating system and was beginning to enjoy the experience so much that I decided to splash out and buy a Mini Mac.

I was familiar with the tiny design after spotting one in Berlin and being amazed that a cube smaller than a shoebox was powering a massive 27” monitor or “display” as Apple likes to call them.

First Impressions

Wow, it’s tiny. I’m sorry to sound repetitive but it takes a while to sink in how small the “laptop in a box” actually is, moving on…

Sound quality is one of this products drawbacks, the first thing that happens when switched on is a loud muffled welcoming sound which doesn’t seem to route through the external speakers I had plugged into the headphones socket.

Setup is easy. After a few minuets of trying to unwrap the thing and plugging it in, just switch it on, fill in your details and away you go. It connected within second to my wireless network and I was online in no time.

Using the Mac

Tiger. An improvement on v10.3 but not an immense one. The widget function is really easy and extremely useful. You can download widgets from the apple website and just drag them onto your desktop. Press F12 and they appear, press it again and they’re gone. Simple.

After using Mozilla Firefox a lot on Windows, Safari isn’t much of a variation; however Safari doesn’t share the tab function allowing you to have one or more WebPages ready to view in one window. However, both have a small search bar in the top right corner of the window allowing you to search on Google or other search engines.

With a click and a drag of your mouse, you are moments away from live news data. Safari is with compatible with RSS, which then can works alongside with Tiger to create a RSS screensaver.

Mighty Mouse

Even though it costs £35.00 ($50.00) the Mighty Mouse is a revolution for Apple and Apple users. Apple’s quest for originality was just getting plain obnoxious so I think this is a step in the right direction for apple.

Encase you were unaware, the Might mouse looks and feels like a normal one-buttoned apple mouse but it has two buttons secretly hidden underneath the exterior and has a 360 decrees scroll ball placed on the top which makes hast of scrolling up, down, left an right of any window you happen to be using.

Beware; if you don’t decide to buy a Mighty mouse then you will need another one instead, and a keyboard for that matter; the Mac Mini arrives absent of a keyboard and a mouse.

Overall

If you are a brave Windows users who wants to break away from the standard Windows interface, then this Mac is for you. If you are looking to produce a two hour long feature film then I would recommend a G5 PowerMac. Or even an Intel Mac.

Don’t be put off by the small numbers; 1.42 GHz. This machine looks capable of running Photoshop CS, Dreamweaver MX and some advanced games thanks to its graphics card. (The new Intel Mac Mini uses Shared Graphics)

The 512 MB ram seems to handle most tasks with ease and is always upgradeable to 1GB, which can be done in the comfort of your own front room if you have the appropriate skills and a screwdriver.

Ease of setup: 5/5
Performance: 3/5
Value for money: 5/5
Style: 5/5
Overall: 90/100

Need For Speed Most Wanted (Xbox 360) February 25, 2006

Posted by Chris in Reviews.
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nfsx_habib-image6_selectfixedaspect_cc.jpgOne of the most enjoyable games on the 360 available. As soon as the game appears on your screen, you are enrolled in a flury of speed, thrill and excitement. You start out as a racer with a top of the range, BMW M3, shortly after, you loose you car and have to work your way up the blacklist to become the most wanted.

nfsmwx360scrnhabibimage119.jpgYou can accomplish this by escaping the police, completing milestones and most importantly, taking part in different style races, such as the renound NFS Drag Races, circuit races, sprint races and many more.

Plus Points:

  • Amazing graphics (with HD input)
  • Interesting StoryLine
  • Advanced Gameplay
  • SoundTrack
  • Large list of cars to buy

Minus Points:

  • Can be frustrating in places

Overall, I would rate this game 8.5 out of 10

Xbox 360 Premium: Reviewed February 3, 2006

Posted by Chris in Reviews.
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Enter you local gaming store and you will soon discover how hard it is to get your hands oXbox 360n Microsofts new Xbox 360, and there is a good reason for that. Once you have experienced the 360s power on a High Definition TV, there will be no going back. The animation on PGR3 is superb, the graphics are really sharp, sometimes looking just about real. However, shove a game like Call of Duty into your 360 and don’t expect to get the same kick out of the graphics. It seems top quality graphics are restrcited to racing games, but don’t be dissapointed it your not a car racing fan, because the graphics on other genres of game are still massively better on the 360. This is largely down to the HD output.

Another great feature of the 360 are the wireless controllers. When you buy a controller you don’t have to plug a reciever into the 360, that is built in. Also, the headset (included with the premium pack) slots directly into the controller allowing you to sit the opposite side of the room to your Xbox and still chat with anyone else playing online.

Plus Points:

  • Great Graphics
  • Clear Audio
  • Very intuative user interface
  • Fast loading times

Minus Points:

  • You need an HDTV to experience the full capabilities of the Xbox
  • Expensive games

Overall, I would give the Xbox 360 9/10