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Derek Carter’s blog » iPhone

Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

Idea for a tablet Mac

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

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There have been rumors about a Mac tablet for years now, but so far nothing has left Apple’s secret labs in Cupertino.  Just for fun, I came up with some specs for what I think would make a totally awesome tablet Mac - or rather, an iPod tablet.  Read on, and enjoy.  

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 The iPod tablet (or iTablet, as many people call it) is essentially a very large iPod touch.  It is based around an 8.9″ multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 768.  Like its smaller cousin, it has only three buttons: Home, Sleep, and Volume.  In addition to the expected Dock connector and headphone ports, it also has two mini-USB ports, an SD/SDHC slot, and a mini-HDMI port.  Inside are dedicated chips for processing audio, video, and graphics, in addition to the CPU.  Except for the audio chip, which is the same one used across the iPod family, they were all developed in-house by Apple following its acquisition of P.A. Semi in 2008.  For storage, the iTablet has up to 128 GB of flash memory. The iTablet has the same audio capabilities that iPods have had for years, with the exception of finally being able to create custom equalizer settings.

The iTablet supports video resolutions up to 720p, and several other MPEG and AVI file formats besides the expected MPEG-4 format (iTunes also supports those formats now).  As on the iPod touch, video playback uses the whole screen, with non-HD videos appearing in their native resolution by default; triple-tapping on them makes the device upscale them to fill the screen.  Double-tapping a widescreen video (that’s already filling the screen side-to-side in the case of non-HD videos) still causes it to expand to fill the screen entirely, with the sides being cut off.  The iTablet can also send video to a TV via either the mini-HDMI port, or Composite or Component video through the Dock connector.

While iTunes still optimizes images for previews on the iTablet, it now has an option to sync full versions of photos to the device, as long as they’re JPEGs (users can still choose to have iTunes optimize photos larger than the iTablet’s display).  iPhoto has an option to optimize individual photos or entire albums based on customizable settings (photos larger than a certain resolution and/or file size determined by the user can be shrunk to a smaller resolution and file size, also determined by the user).  iPorn Family vacation photos never looked so good on a mobile device!

The iTablet’s OS is based on the iPhone OS, though with substantial changes.  There’s still the Dock at the bottom of the home screen that holds your favorite apps, but the other apps have been moved into a separate Apps screen, leaving the home screen clear for a few open applications (or just wallpaper).  Most apps can be run in windows on the home screen, similar to how apps work on regular computers; they can be resized at will by pinching or spreading your fingers apart, or run in full-screen.  Some apps run only in full-screen, such as Photos, Videos, and action/graphics-intensive games.

The iTablet can use SD cards and even external hard drives for additional storage.  A limited version of Mac OS X’s Finder allows enabled apps (including Music, Videos, Photos, and third-party apps such as word processors and such) to search through such devices for compatible files.  The iTablet can also copy files from one drive to another (i.e. from a camera’s memory card to an external hard drive), or even to its own flash memory.  The latter scenario uses a special folder that the iTablet spoofs as a flash drive when it’s connected to a computer.

Problems with the iPod touch

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

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As I mentioned previously, the iPod touch currently has only 16GB of storage at most, with a price tag of $400. That’s too expensive to replace my 8GB 2G iPod nano ($250 at the time), and too small to replace my 60GB 5G iPod. If the touch became cheaper than my nano or got at least 32GB of storage (my music collection is just over 17GB now, and I can live with only a fraction of my video and photo collections) I’d be interested in buying one.

But there’s a few other problems I have with it. After hearing reports on iLounge that some Apple Stores had received shipments of the iPod touch, I went to the one in Braintree to check it out if they were one of the lucky stores. Sure enough, they had it. As I was playing around with one, it dawned on me that both it and the iPhone don’t sort videos very well. The other video iPod models have submenus for Movies, Music Videos, TV Shows, Video Podcasts, and Video Playlists. The iPhone/iPod touch just have a single Video menu which lists every single video synced to the device. While they are separated by kind, if you want to go to a video podcast, you have to scroll through every movie, music video, and tv show that’s on the device first (video playlists aren’t supported at all). On my current iPod, that would mean going through 283 videos, which starts to become a lengthy task. While the capacities of Apple’s current multi-touch devices will probably limit most users to a few dozen videos, this will start to become a problem once flash drive capacities start closing in on the current hard drive capacities.

There’s also a bunch of handy features present on the iPhone that are missing from the iPod touch. No Notes and no way of adding events to calendars, for starters. Despite the Wi-Fi capabilities, there are no widgets for Google Maps, Weather, or Stocks - but there’s a widget for YouTube, not to mention the same Safari browser the iPhone has. The Notes especially are a feature I’d like to have. Hopefully Apple will add a lot of these apps to the touch in future firmware updates.

New iPods leave much to be desired

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

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Yesterday Apple refreshed the entire iPod line-up. In the past, such events have been the cause of much excitement both before and after, but this time it did not live up to the pre-show anticipation. Here’s my reactions to the new iPods:

iPod shuffle: Meh. New colors, but nothing else. I’ve never cared for the shuffle (no screen and not enough capacity for my tastes).

iPod nano: “I’m a little iPod, short and stout…” The 3G nano needs to go on a diet. Seriously, that extra inch of width just doesn’t look good on it. And what was the point in adding a bigger screen and video support to it? Now it’s just a low capacity iPod with a smaller screen. They should’ve just updated the 2G version with more memory.

iPod classic (aka 6G iPod): Just plain pointless. It’s almost unchanged from the 5G iPod. Admittedly, the greater capacity, component video output, virtually unscratchable anodized aluminum front (too bad the screen is the same old scratch-prone plastic), and modestly enhanced interface will be nice for some people, I’m not going to pay $250 for a new version of what I already have.

iPod touch: “So close, and yet so far…” Pluses: multi-touch display and Wi-Fi. Minuses: maxes out at 16GB of memory (my music collection is now in excess of 17GB), and lacks a lot of the apps the iPhone has (No notepad? WTF?). If it had at least 60GB of memory (the same as my current iPod), I definitely would’ve bought one, but it looks like I’ll have to wait a year or so for the capacity and features to increase.

iPhone: Apple dropped the price to $400 for the 8GB version (this is the same price as the 16GB iPod touch, btw). If dad and I can’t straighten things out with Verizon to get new phones, I might just buy an iPhone. The charging cradle for my current phone is a POS.