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Remote IT Support and Computer & Technology Help in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh NC

Demo of stereo Bluetooth remote control working on iOS 4.1

It’s taken Apple three years to implement stereo Bluetooth AVRCP correctly on the iPhone OS, but here it is on the new iPod Touch 4th gen!!

Neil  Berman

Sep 10, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Audio, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

iPod Touch and Nano (September 2010 release models)

iPod Nano coverflowSo now I’ve come down from my iOS 4.1 stereo Bluetooth high, here are some calmer thoughts about Apple’s new iPod Touch and Nano.

First the Nano. It’s cute, very cute. Surprisingly usable too for something with such a tiny touchscreen. Somehow that tiny screen manages to display coverflow artwork and it looks good too, since the screen has excellent pixel density. The wristwatch use case is clear, but the Nano also reminds me of the Pop Swatch. That was the one that clipped ‘into’ your clothing using a clasp behind and clock on top. The physical feel of the Nano is first iPod Nano buttonsrate, it exudes class and seems to be fashioned from a slab of machined metal. I can see this having greater appeal than the previous Nano because this one just has so much ‘I must buy this now’ factor.

Now onto the new iPod Touch. I must buy this now. I must. The retina display is stunning, the HD video looks great and Apple has finally implemented stereo Bluetooth properly (but I don’t care about that).

The new iPod Touch is thin; as seriously thin as the Nano is cute. It almost feels insubstantial just because it’s like holding a long wafer; it really can’t be much thicker than a few credit cards so it can disappear comfortably in a shirt pocket.

I mentioned the HD video earlier, and while we now know that the camera on the new iPod Touch is lame, the quality of its video recording is good. I also confirmed that just as with the iPhone 4, the new iPod Touch can download iMovie as a paid app from the App Store. So this thinnie might really give the Flip/Bloggie posse something to worry about. I might give it a shot as my CES backup videocam to see if it can handle the pressure.

The one thing I’d have loved to see on the new iPod Touch is a slightly larger screen. Even though the retina display renders so much information in a small space, stretching the screen to 4 inches would have hit a real sweet spot in my view.

I can definitely see myself picking up one of these. Amazingly it would be my first iPod, but now that HD video and proper Bluetooth implementation are there, I finally feel the feature set is comprehensive enough to merit the price.

Neil Berman

Sep 8, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Audio, Mobile | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hulu Plus for iPad & iPhone is Hulu Plus commercials Minus $10 monthly from your wallet

Yay Hulu has made it to the iPad and iPhone; you might well be saying the days of Flash tyranny are over! Not so fast. The cost of a Flash free Hulu Plus is definitely not free, running at $10 monthly WITH commercials PLUS those nasty AT&T overages if you step over the monthly data cap while enjoying a satisfying 3G video stream.

Oh sweet Hulu, ’tis a sad day, for thine rating is already down to 1.5 stars in the App Store. Over 1,600 out of 2,237 previewers so far have rated the Hulu Plus a measly one star, many citing the charging as the crime. iPad owners need not decommission that MacBook just yet, why pay when it’s free on the larger screen?

Neil Berman

Jun 30, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Mobile | , , , , , | Leave a comment

iPad, like iPhone and iPod Touch, has poor stereo Bluetooth implementation

When Apple launched the iPhone, Many were stunned by its lack of stereo Bluetooth capability. This function, which allows a device to connect to wireless headphones, is critical for those who like to enjoy wire-free music listening.

Apple partially added this capability to the iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch, but failed to allow them to support the AVRCP remote track control protocol. This means that although these devices will stream music to A2DP enabled Bluetooth headphones, you have to pull out your iPhone if you want to skip a track. Unfortunately the iPad suffers form the same incomplete Bluetooth implementation.

Worse still, since the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch’s volume control is suspended when connected to a stereo Bluetooth headset, some headsets which rely on the sending device for a base volume control just don’t work properly with these Apple devices. For example I find the Plantronics BackBeat 903 is too loud even at it’s lowest volume level when connected to the iPad (see update below), yet it works perfectly with the BlackBerry Bold or any non-Apple smartphone I’ve tested it with.

Hopefully Apple will implement stereo Bluetooth properly on the iPhone 4, bringing it in line with most BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone smartphones. If it fails to do so then those latter platforms remain a better option for those who like to listen to music wirelessly.

Update: Plantronics just sent a replacement BackBeat 903 and the minimum volume on that newer unit is fine with the iPad.  It appears the unit we had previously was faulty.  Of course, as with all stereo Bluetooth devices which support AVRCP, the Apple iOS AVRCP issue remains and we live in hope that Apple will one day resolve this.

Neil Berman

Jun 13, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Mobile | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What might the Apple Mac Mini HDMI rumors mean for the HTPC market?

There was an interesting rumor surfing the interwebs last week that Apple might add HDMI to the Mac Mini.  Apple, which has so far spurned HDMI in its computers in favor of the newer Display Port and Mini Display Port connectors, has not had an HTPC contender in its line-up apart from the non-live-TV-capable Apple TV.  So what?  Well if the Mac Mini HDMI rumors are true, I think this could mean more for Apple and the living room HTPC market than may initially be apparent, and the reason comes back to the iPad …continue reading

Mar 6, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Home Theater, Photo & Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ThinkFlood RedEye Mini might be the coolest universal remote control ever

If you’ve been toying with the idea of universal remote control to replace the growing mass of blasters on your coffee table, your days of procrastinating may be coming to an end.  ThinkFlood has announced its RedEye Mini, which is a scaled down affordable version of its RedEye WiFi remote control for the iPod Touch and iPhone.  Instead of relying on WiFi like its more expensive older brother, the RedEye Mini opts for a traditional infrared connected directly to the iPod/iPhone, making it more portable and easier to instantly setup.

We think the RedEye Mini might just do to high-end universal remote controllers what free navigation on Android 2.0 did to the GPS market, i.e. set them on a path towards extinction.  After all, if you’re in the market for a $150 universal remote, I’d say there’s a decent chance you have an iPod Touch or iPhone.  So at less than $50, the RedEye Mini is an exciting proposition.  Heck it might even be worth buying a dedicated iPod Touch for this, just so you can tell your pals all about your new remote control which just happens to surf the web, store your music collection and get you email.  The RedEye Mini will be available later in the Spring.

Now just imagine the delicious irony of using this on an iPod Touch to control Windows Media Center…

Neil Berman

Mar 2, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Home Theater, Photo & Video, News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zune HD is a sellout, but is it better than an iPod Touch?

Early indications tell us that the Zune HD has been selling out at Amazon, BestBuy and Newegg. Is it actually a more desirable device than the iPod Touch or is this just an initial flurry of fan purchases?

I’m not going to review the two devices here, as plenty technical articles have already been written about how the Zune HD has both the design and quality playback edge over the iPod Touch. From a pure stored media reproduction perspective the Zune HD seems to be the superior PMP with slicker hardware and cooler software.

But consumers now expect more than just media playback, and this is where the iPod Touch fights back. Yes the Zune HD has a browser, but Safari on the Touch is better. The Touch also offers an email client and YouTube playback. The Touch might not have got it’s camera yet, but let’s not forget it is a gaming platform.

This flexibility, rooted in the App Store, ultimately makes the iPod Touch a stronger platform than the Zune HD. The Zune HD does have a selection of applications available, but its ad-based revenue model makes little sense in the face of ad-free 99 cent apps for the Touch.

Ironically the largest thorn in the side of the Zune HD’s third party app growth may be Windows Mobile. It makes every bit of sense for the Windows Mobile and Zune platforms to merge, just like the iPhone and iPod touch share the same OS. But right now Windows Mobile and Zune feel too far apart, which may ultimately harm third party app growth on both platforms.

As I said prior to the Zune HD’s release, the device brings technical superiority, but the iPod Touch is probably a more fun and flexible platform even without the camera we were hoping for. Ultimately the buying decision depends upon what you want to do with your device, but it’s now a harder decision than ever.

Neil Berman

Sep 20, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Audio, Microsoft, Mobile | , | Leave a comment

Neil Berman published by PMI

So my recent lacks of posts can be explained by:

a) An unhealthy addiction to Halo 3, tinkering with the Windows 7 Beta and wondering whether the BSG finale would be lame or earth shattering finding – we now know

b) Feeling 24/7 ecstatic that the iPhone & iPod Touch will be getting stereo bluetooth.  Praise be!  Can’t wait to see the wireless cans Apple will hopefully release…where will all those soon-to-be-unwanted white wires go?

c) Writing a Project Management paper which PMI published today

The correct answer is the absent d) All of the above.

Today PMI (Project Management Institute) published my paper entitled “The Project Manager’s Three Critical Factors in Career Development” on their website at  The paper can be found in the Resources section in the Library under Leadership.  Hope you enjoy reading it.

With that said I have been spending an unreasonable amount of time tinkering with the Windows 7 Beta and will post soon about the mainly good and not very much bad.  Darn it I can’t believe BSG is over…bring on Caprica!

Neil Berman

Apr 1, 2009 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apple’s Let’s Rock turns out to be Easy Listening

Excitement was high in the blogosphere ahead of today’s Let’s Rock press conference by Apple.

New MacBooks have been on the rumor mill for some time, as the current black and white 13 inchers still haven’t had a chassis refresh. The subject of an Apple netbook entry continues to inspire imaginations and the initial PR push on enterprise iPhone adoption has gone all but silent.

After a summer of problematic product launches Apple needed something to restore its image to the faithful. It chose to play it safe, avoiding significant launches in favor of evolutionary product updates.

iPod Nanos get thinner (meh) with a larger screen and cover flow (seen it already). The 8GB version is $149, which is about $120 more than a 8GB micro SDHC card if your music phone happens to accept them as legal music hosting tender.

iPhone firmware goes to 2.1, which may mean it just might work this time?

iTunes goes to 8.0 with a new genius (it’s now genius vs guru in the Apple vs Microsoft battleground) feature which intelligently suggests playlists for you (nice, but not sure I’d give away the precious genius title to a single-purpose feature). NBC comes back to play on iTunes, and in HD.

iPod Touch gets revised pricing and a new curvy chassis (meh). An accelerometer gets added, hopefully it’s more reliable than the one in the iPhone.

Has any of this rocked your world? Probably not, Apple is coming out of a difficult summer, so going back to fundamentals with some easy listening may be the best choice. After all music is our life’s foundation as the Pet Shop Boys once said.

Update one day later: Oops I did it again. What has happened to Apple’s quality control…?

Neil Berman

Sep 9, 2008 Posted by | Apple | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why does my MacBook MacPanic?

Take one MacBook, add one class compliant M-Audio USB soundcard and enjoy one unstable multimedia platform.

Why does my MacBook give a kernel panic half the times I plug in my M-Audio Transit? A quick call to M-Audio later, it seems that in MacBook-land all USB ports are not born equal. The MacBook accepts the soundcard in the near port and generates a kernel panic in the far one. Yikes. Apparently there’s no fix, it’s just the way MacBook’s USB implementation works – or doesn’t work.

Meanwhile my Steinberg and Korg licensing keys prove equally challenging for my MacBook. Sometimes they get detected, sometimes not. It can literally take thirty minutes to boot, crash, reboot, reposition keys, start Cubase, pray for key recognition, start recording, get kernel panic, shutdown, try to reboot, get no display, remove battery, replace battery, reboot…The temptation to install Boot Camp is starting to become overwhelming.

On the plus side, whilst the MacBook’s Airport never managed to connect to my Belkin router it works well with my five dollar Trendnet one. Proof that happiness can come in small packages from CompUSA.

Elsewhere in Mac-land the iPod Touch seems set to be a winner. It looks like Apple has taken the iPhone platform and basically made an iCantPhone. As a portable music player there are probably better options – 300 bucks for a large-sized player with only 8Gb seems a bit steep – but the surfing and video options compensate. A slightly thicker version housing a hard drive would be killer. Pretty please Apple?

Neil Berman

Sep 15, 2007 Posted by | Apple, Audio | , | Leave a comment


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