Archive for the ‘Tech Gadgets’ Category

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The new iPhone 3G-S Review

June 26, 2009

I am now the proud owner of a white, 32GB 600mhz, iPhone 3G-S and as far as first impressions goes, this phone has blown me away and surely must be setting the bar impossibly high for other products to measure up to.

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It is everything I could have hoped for and more. I can honestly say living in Japan gives me the advantage of having the best mobile phone technology in the world at my fingertips so its curious that this is a gadget made by the same people who gave us the mechanically hideous monstrosities from Chrysler and GM and the artery choking food of McDonald’s and Burger King.

You would think there would be no way they would know how to make anything…good.

And yet, the Americans in question are an altogether more entirely capable breed of people and have for decades broken mold after mold after mold, both socially and industrially.

Apple are, once again onto something massive with the iPhone, just as they were with the iPod and iMacs before it.

Better to call it an iPwn because that is exactly what this phone does. It Pwns the competition.

I didn’t have to wait for the phone for long this morning. Shops all across Tokyo opened up to frenzied shoppers looking to scoop this latest item from Cupertino. I stayed well away from the city centers and stuck to my local shop which had plenty of stock and no lines in which to wait. Only 25 minutes away by train in central Tokyo, all hell was breaking loose.

Go figure…

One of the golden rules to living in Tokyo – Do NOT follow the crowd.

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I had held off getting the first and second generations of iPhone simply because they didn’t impress me enough. 400mhz, no camera or video function, a choice of only 8 or 16GB of space and the bugs that came with it during its initial baptism made me more than a little sceptical.

I try to avoid buying a first gen Apple product simply because I know they haven’t got things completely right and are still working out some bugs that are inherent in first release products. The iPod was no different if you remember.

And that brings us to the 32GB version again, available in only black or white. I stumped for white because i think it has the better looking combination of colours and shades.

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This thing just does it all. I have my iPod synced to iTunes, I have my 3.5 inch screen in vivid colour showing me all the beautifully laid out and easy to see icons representing the different “draws” to this particular digital cupboard – a flick of the finger left or right will take me to a different icons page where I have more icon choices that are easy to understand. I have this design that is smooth, uncluttered, futuristic and totally in the same vein as all of Apples products ; it just works and works so easily. It is anything but bulky; a sleek and slippery shape that catches no edges and is beautiful to look at.

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Navigating through the device is so amazingly easy. I became accustomed to the intuitve interface within the first hour of starting it up. Menus are clear and precise and thoughtfully designed, sub menus are simple and uncomplicated and if you ever find yourself lost, click the button at the bottom. That sends you back to the home screen.

Are phones supposed to be this easy to understand? My old Sharps were tech tour de forces in their own way but I think I only got 40 to 50% out of them at the most. The iPhone? The sky seems to be the limit; especially when you take into account the thousands and thousands of purchasable apps for just about anything and had for as little as a buck and 3 screen touches.

It’s a real revelation to me. I mean, there was no way i was NOT going to get an iPhone but I had no idea how good this one has turned out to be. I told myself when the first gen ihone came out that when Apple released an iPhone that had at least 32Gb, faster processor, video, camera and auto focus abilities I would seriously consider one.

As if to say they heard me, Apple released the 3G-S and in this package all my gripes have been answered.

Well…almost all of them.

The battery is a bit of a let down. Apple just can’t seem to get their batteries right. For example, my generation of MBP had a severe battery problem, so much so that Apple issued a no questions asked replacement of the battery free of charge. The iPod has been plagued by battery dillemas since it’s inception. The iPhone was criticised for its battery life.

Lets face it, A lot of Apple products get criticized for their battery life.

All this Apple ingenuity comes at a price obviously. All the development of the hardware and software bundled with Apple products invariably takes its toll on the power supply and while the batteries of the 17 inch MBP of 2009 are an exception ( Lasting some 7 hours if you believe the reports ), most if not all other Apple products have questions to answer in relation to the battery.

Enough about the battery. If it is that much of a problem, I can buy a solar panel charger to take with me in my bag, my car charger for when I am driving around  and even better; some manufacturers make battery cases that protect AND charge the phone while on the go. Now that is a great idea.

I decided to bundle my iPhone with this Griffin carbon fiber look case as well as a chrome screen protector to aid vanity as well as privacy. The Griffin case is beautiful and has a tight profile – free from an unnecessary angles or snags.

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Now…if only there was a way to keep those annoying greasy slimy marks off the screen so I can see it clearly enough and not have to deposit the grime on my left or right shirt arm…

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To iPhone or not to iPhone?

May 28, 2009

Well, it’s finally time to upgrade the old beater that has served me well over the past 2 and half years.

I’ve been kinda hooked on Sharp phones since I moved to Japan and have always looked for the models with the best cameras attached.

4 years ago I had the V602SH that was packing at the time a whopping 2MP of camera muscle. This was a serious phone for 2005 ( Same colour too )

After 2 years with that, I went for another Sharp, the 910SH

My old Sharp 910SH 5 megapixel camera phone has taken an absolute beating over the years and it has never put a foot wrong on me. The only thing I have ever had to do is replace the battery a couple of times.


The old 5 Megapixel beater

Now. Everyone is stark raving mad about the iPhone and while I have heard this, that and the other from everyone under the sun about it, I remain less than convinced.

I’m definitely a Mac guy but the iPhone isn’t everything I thought it would be. Lets face it; the camera is crap, has no auto focus even and it doesn’t shoot video. You need to buy every application that is actually half decent enough to be useful and you will fill page after page of crappy apps that you will never even use but have to navigate through to get to the good ones. Not to mention people have suffered technical difficulties, one after the other with the hardware and it only has 16GB’s of space ( As of the time of writing ) and you would be hard pressed to convince certain cynics such as myself to join the bandwagon.

I though Apples corporate ethos was to not be like Microsoft and always package its items with as little bullshit as possible?

The iPhone just doesn’t float my boat. Not yet anyway.

Now. The Sharp 933Sh certainly does!

Due to be released in Japan tomorrow, this camera phone is packing some powerful pocket camera prowess among a host of other things.

When separating the wheat from the chaff, it comes down to this:

  • 10 Megapixel Pro Pix CCD Sensor and LED Flash with face recognition ( a bit of a letdown with it not being a Xenon bulb )
  • 28mm wide angle lens f=5.07mm / 1:2.8
  • ISO 100~12800 ( No more crappy night time shots with this baby! )
  • Continuous AF
  • 16GB of usable Micro SD card space
  • 3.3″ Full wide VGA screen with touch panel controls
  • Digital Television One Seg Tuner with Aquos screen ( 854×480 )
  • Global Roaming capabilities ( A big plus )
  • Felica Pocket wallet capabilities
  • Touch panel screen
  • GPS Navigation
  • Live updates for Blogs and other URL
  • Bluetooth
  • …you get the picture…

I am very fortunate to be living in a country where technology is always on the cutting edges and updated constantly.

I think the 933SH is the bomb and if I buy this thing it will be the third Sharp phone for me and my third phone in Japan. There is basically only one spanner in the works at the moment for me and it comes in the form of the Sony Ericsson Idou. With 12.1 Megapixels on tap the Sony may be packing more than the Sharp.

In any case, and regardless of which phone I stump for,  I have been fortunate enough to have never lost or broken my phones while friends of mine have gone through dozens of them in the same time period.

I think part of that is down to Sharp phones just simply being really damn good products.

The other parts may or may not be alcohol related.