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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

Cyber-Shot™ Phones March 7, 2006

Posted by Chris in Previews.
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Continuing with the theme of phones… Sony Ericsson have introduced 2 Cyber-Shot™ phones. (K800 and K790) Both equipped with 3.2 MP Cameras.

"With the Cyber-shot™ phone we aim to create a new lifestyle of ‘imaging communication’ by combining Sony Ericsson’s unique mobile applications and Sony digital imaging technologies,” said Rikko Sakaguchi, Senior Vice President, Product and Application Planning, Sony Ericsson. "Our aim has always been to innovate and create new values for the mobile life, and with the Cyber-shot™ phone we will enable anyone to enjoy an entirely new level of communication –taking quality pictures of anything, anytime and anywhere, and sharing their precious moments with others."

The handsets have a classic Sony Ericsson design, with a large screen and responsive, tactile keypad with a sleek and stylish dual front phone design. Turn the phones horizontally and there you have a digital still camera. Simply slide the active lens cover downwards and a user interface similar to that of a Cyber-shot™ camera automatically appears.

completely new feature developed by Sony Ericsson is BestPic™, which ensures that you never ‘miss’ an important picture. Press the shutter button once and get 9 full quality 3.2 megapixel pictures to choose from in a time sequence – 4 pictures before and 4 pictures after the actual image you captured. All 9 pictures are displayed as icons on the display. Simply scroll backwards and forwards through the 9 images and save the ones you like best.

The K800 and K790 offer full support for a complete digital imaging lifestyle. Printing is possible without the need for a PC thanks to PictBridge™, a feature that transfers pictures directly to a printer by using a USB cable. Not Bluetooth unfortunately.

A basic overview of features:

Imaging & Messaging

* 3.2 Mega pixel with Auto Focus Camera
* Xenon Flash
* BestPic™
* Video and image stabilizer function
* 2.0” QVGA 262K TFT display
* Active lens cover
* Photo keys
* Cyber-shot™ user interface
* Memory for 100 pictures (at 3.2MP), 64 MB internal user memory
* Video recording/playback
* Adobe picture/video PC SW
* 16x Digital zoom
* Auto red eye reduction
* DPOF & PictBridge
* Time line view of pictures
* Picture Blogging (powered by Blogger)
* PictureDJ ™ and VideoDJ™
* Standard push e-mail (P-IMAP) support
* VGA camera for Video Telephony (no VGA camera in K790)

Entertainment

* Music Player (MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+ support)
* Video Player
* Music DJ™
* OMA DRM phase 1.x
* Streaming Audio/Video
* 3D games
* A/B buttons for horizontal games support
* RDS FM radio

Sony Ericsson P990 Smartphone March 7, 2006

Posted by Chris in Uncategorized.
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p800, p900, p900i and now the p990, (due for release Q1 2006) based on the same proven concept and recognisable form factor. This means that the p990 will inherit the chunky design of it’s predisessors, but this doesn’t worry sony, they say according to research, people like to get the full from their phones, and they difinately will do that with this feature packed phone.

They didn’t call it “Smartphone” for nothing. Memory has been extended in order to handle all multi-media downloads and e-mail attachments. Memory Stick PRO Duo up to 2GB is available in the market and the P990 now has up to 80 MB user free memory. A 64 MB Memory Stick PRO Duo is included in the box, preloaded with a VPN client and trial version of a virus scan package.

The combination of UMTS and WLAN features will also significantly improve the efficiency and flexibility of applications such as e-mail, browsing the Internet/Intranet and video telephony. WLAN, available in hot spots all over the world, acts as a complement to high speed 3G services, enabling widespread access to corporate network services.

Additionally the 2 Megapixel camera with autofocus, digital zoom, photo light plus the bright TFT screen and video recording provide a high quality imaging experience.

Technical specifications

  • Operating system – Symbian OS v9.1
  • Software platform – UIQ v3.0
  • Size – 114 x 57 x 25
  • Weight – 155g with battery and flip keyboard
  • Screen – Large 2.8 inch QVGA (240 x 320) touch screen with 262 k colours that supports landscape view for camera, video imaging and browsing
  • Interaction – Using touch screen, 3 way Jog Dial and dedicated buttons
  • WLAN – 802.11b compliant
  • Bluetooth – Includes car handsfree profile
  • Infrared – Yes
  • USB – Yes and charging via USB
  • UMTS – E-GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900 and UMTS 2100
  • Application memory – Up to 80 MB user free memory
  • Camera – Integrated 2 megapixel CommuniCorder 24 bit colour depth, autofocus for still pictures, video clip recording and video calls
  • Video telephony – Application included which allows video calls and video conferencing via the built-in dual cameras
  • Media player – Supports playback, streaming and playlists
  • Activity menu – Customizable top level menu
  • Upgradeable – Via Sony Ericsson Update Service
  • FM/RDS radio – Yes
  • Browser – Opera browser (version 8.) supporting frames and javascript
  • Push email – Prepared for all major e-mail solutions including Research in Motion (Blackberry)
  • Messaging – SMS, MMS and email
  • PIM applications – Contacts, Calendar, To Do, Jotter for notes and sketches, Voice memo and Calculator, Converter, Stop Watch and Timer
  • Viewers – Microsoft Excel. Word, Powerpoint and Adobe PDF
  • Editors – Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Themes – Easy personalisation of animated icons, screensavers, wallpapers and skins
  • Speaker phone – Yes
  • Memory Stick – Memory Stick PRO Duo slot for up to 2 GB removable memory. 64 MB supplied

iPod Hi-Fi March 7, 2006

Posted by Chris in Uncategorized.
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Apple news again?!? I’m afraid so…

Apple have announced the iPod Hi-Fi, you iPod fits in the top and music comes out the front. The dock has been adapted to work with almost all iPods.

“Apple is reinventing the home stereo with the new iPod Hi-Fi, the first iPod accessory that adds true high-fidelity sound quality to the iPod,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPod Hi-Fi’s unrivaled acoustic performance and stunning design is at home in any room in the house.”

” Featuring seamless integration with all iPods with a dock connector, iPod Hi-Fi automatically recharges your iPod while docked and displays features of iPod that maximize the iPod Hi-Fi experience such as Tone Control, Large Album Art mode and volume mirroring.* iPod Hi-Fi includes a dual-purpose 3.5-mm auxiliary input that accepts either analog or digital signals for easy connection to a wide range of audio sources. iPod Hi-Fi is compact and can be powered by AC or six D-cell batteries, providing more flexibility than any traditional home stereo and is perfect for use not only at home, but just about anywhere you go without compromising sound quality.”

Although it costs £249 ($349) it seems like a quality buy.

New Intel Mac Mini March 5, 2006

Posted by Chris in Technology.
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Courtesy of Apple

Apple have unveiled the third member to the intel family; the Mac Mini. Available in two versions, 1.5Ghz and 1.66Ghz, starting at £449 ($599).

Simular to the iMac, you will recieve a wireless remote with your Mini for use with frontrow, giving you the option to use it as a media center.

The new 1.66 GHz Mac mini, for a suggested retail price of $799 (US), includes:

  • 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo processor;
  • 512MB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable up to 2GB;
  • a slot-load 8x SuperDrive™ with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
  • 80GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm;
  • Intel GMA950 graphics processor;
  • built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
  • Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 BASE-T);
  • four USB 2.0 ports;
  • one audio line in and one audio line out port, each supporting both optical digital and analog;
  • DVI-out port for external display (VGA-out adapter included, Composite/S-Video out adapter sold separately); and
  • the infrared Apple Remote.

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 2GB DDR2 SDRAM, 80GB, 100GB and 120GB Serial ATA hard drives, iWork ’06 (pre-installed), AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme Base Station, Apple Wireless Keyboard, Apple Wireless Mouse, Apple USB Modem and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

According to Apple, the Intel Mini will be up to 4 times faster than the previous version.

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 February 27, 2006

Posted by Chris in Internet.
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With the excitement of Vista, Microsofts new browser has become almost invisible. IE7 will be Microsofts attempt to knock Firefox of the top spot.

As you load IE7 you are greeted with a window asking if you want it to automatically filter Phishing. Type in google.com and an option appears to make google you default searcher.

IE7 has adopted the tabbed browsing format. In this Beta version, the images are looking a bit rusty.

For Microsoft, this is definately a step in the right direction but it still doesn’t feel as good as Firefox and doesn’t look as good a Flock.

You can try it yourself here.

Apple Announce iPod Radio Remote February 26, 2006

Posted by Chris in Music.
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One of the iPods main downfalls is the lack of radio support. This problem has now been solved for all iPod and iPod Nano owners. For £35 or $49 you can buy a tuner that fits into the earphone socket. Your earphones then plug into that allowing you to listen to radio through your iPod.

“The iPod Radio Remote combines two great features in one elegant product,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing. “The iPod Radio Remote is both the best remote control and the best FM radio listening experience for iPod.”

“The iPod Radio Remote is a convenient way for music lovers to skip tracks and adjust the volume of their iPod even when it’s in a pocket or backpack, and listen to FM radio stations while displaying station and song information on their iPod screen.”

You can purchase this product through the Apple Store.

iTunes reaches 1 billion download milestone February 26, 2006

Posted by Chris in Music.
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In less than 3 years, iTunes have legally sold over 100,000,000 songs.

One lucky winner will be recieving

  • One 20-inch iMac
  • Ten 60GB iPods (5 white/5 black)
  • One U.S. $10,000 iTunes Music Card (good for any media type)

after downloading “Speed of Sound” by ColdPlay. Not bad for £0.79!

“I hope that every customer, artist and music company executive takes a moment today to reflect on what we’ve achieved together during the past three years,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Over one billion songs have now been legally purchased and downloaded around the globe, representing a major force against music piracy and the future of music distribution as we move from CDs to the Internet.”

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