iOS5 plays catch up with Android

Basically, that’s the first thought that came into mind. Most of the features are evolutionary, and long time Android users will scoff at these, having enjoyed better notifications, Twitter integration, and cloud services for the longest time.

iCloud and iTunes Match are interesting, and their use-case and tight integration are something that Android users will long for. Google will have to tinker some code in Android so that Android users can enjoy such tight integration with cloud services. And Google Music Beta just became antiquated as compared to iCloud and iTunes Match. In this case, their first-to-market beta approach bit them in the ass.

Overall, not enough for me to switch to iOS. Well, Apple has to make their devices CHEAPER before I dive into iOS again. Now, for OS X Lion, it’s a different matter.

(iOS 5 is now available as a preview for developers.)


A note for Android developers

Hi, my name is Arbet, and I own an HTC Magic, which I got from my mobile service provider here in the Philippines. As you may be aware of, the Philippines is not part of the initial Android Market rollout, and we don’t have access to Android Market. As such, if you are only going to release your apps via Android Market, we Filipinos cannot install and use your apps.

Take a page from Fring. When Fring released its Android app, I was excited because I like the product/service, but was disappointed because they released it via Android Market. I sent them a message via Twitter, and they gave me a direct download link. Now I use Fring for IM in my Android phone.

Please, a direct download URL would do wonders for us. That’s all I ask for. Thank you.

Originally posted here. I was trying out Foursquare and Gowalla and both claim they have an Android app. I was frustrated because they only distribute their apps via Android Market. I had to scour the Internet for APKs (these are Android app installers); I found one for Foursquare at their Google Code page (good for them), and a static link for a beta of the Gowalla app. While the Foursquare app works, the Gowalla one does not. So if you notice my Twitter account, you can see me Foursquare checkins, but not Gowalla.

If you want your service to succeed, you would want as many people as possible to use your service. Limiting access to your app through a single source that in turn is limited to certain areas won’t help your service.

And that is why I am ready to ditch my iPod touch. But that is a different story.


Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Micro 4/3 shoots HD video

Wow. My Olympus E-420 camera is getting more antiquated than ever. First, there’s Olympus E-620, and now this.

The Lumix DMC-GH1 is the second camera to support the Micro Four Thirds (Micro 4/3) standard that Panasonic and Olympus are championing. And this camera is the first Micro Four Thirds camera to shoot 1080p video. The difference with Nikon D90 is that the audio for GH1 is stereo. You can record 1080p video at 24 frames per second (fps), or 720p at 60 fps. And the good thing here is that, since this camera supports Micro Four Thirds, I can do an upgrade without ditching my current Four Thirds lenses, though I have to invest in an adapter.

No release date nor introductory price were announced, though.

Panasonic press release | Hands-on by Digital Photography Review


Enjoy superior picture quality and the latest technology: BD-P1500

Enjoy the amazing world of Blu-ray with Samsung

Everything about it whispers gently of elegance, from its sleek, sophisticated style and beautiful black design theme, to its state of the art, groundbreaking technology. Once again Samsung’s innovative development of leading next generation technology ensures that the world’s most exceptional visual clarity and richest sound quality are delivered, allowing the deepest range of emotions to be embraced, experienced, and enjoyed. Enjoy the very best that the 21st century has to offer; premium, precision technology and timeless style.

Full HD 1080p images of perfection

With the BD-P1500, Samsung have created a powerful Blu-ray player that delivers the highest quality images imaginable. With Full HD 1080p, the most inspirational home viewing experience is made available. 1080p/24Hz video out signaling mirrors that of the Blu-ray disc‘s original content, delivering picture perfect images. The BD-P1500 even up-scales conventional DVD content to 1080p through the single cable HDMI 1.3 interface; noticeably enhancing the picture quality of the DVD movie so that it appears more detailed, more vivid, and more real. By performing at a level that outperforms theater quality, the BD-P1500 unlocks a deeper range of emotions, and delivers the most richly rewarding viewing ever to be experienced.

Theater quality sound in your home

Samsung are known for their innovative development and use of leading technologies to further their explorations in AV excellence. With the BD-P1500, every effort has been made to make the consumers’ experience as inspirational as possible. The desire to create a sonic environment which rivals, or surpasses the theater has led to the creation of the most vivid, rich, and deeply emotional sound environment. Supporting Dolby Digital+, Dolby True HD, and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio decoding, superlative sound are made available. The most powerful surround sound environment will leave a more lasting impact upon the listener, allowing for a truer sense of interactive entertainment.

Premium style, precision design

Samsung are synonymous with sophisticated, superior product design. Their use of high glossy black design with soft blue lighting has seen Samsung establish themselves as a design innovator over the past 2 years. With a soft minimal design, organic curves, and elegance, the BD-P1500 continues this legacy. Its contemporary black design theme is an irresistible statement of excellence, passion, and precision that enhances each and every aspect of a home or lifestyle. Sensuously simple, yet premium, the BD-P1500 offers design matching that helps create the ultimate modern living room environment.

Anynet+, Ethernet, and backwards compatibility: complete comfort

For the lifestyle that is always on the go, Samsung appreciate the importance of leisure time. In order to facilitate maximum relaxation and unsurpassed comfort, the BD-P1500 is packed with convenient functions. Samsung’s own Anynet + technology allows the Blu-ray player to be connected to all Samsung AV products, enabling one remote control device to control the entire home entertainment environment. A new level of comfort, control, and convenience is born, leaving more time to appreciate the finer points of relaxation. Easy upgrade options are made available via the Ethernet port. This innovative facility enables new firmware to be downloaded, ensuring the very best in entertainment. While the BD-P1500 is at the forefront of Blu-ray technology, it is also fully backwards compatible, meaning that old favorites can be enjoyed time and time again. DVD and CD playback is enhanced to near HD quality; enjoy the past, experience the present, and embrace the future.

Enjoy the ultimate home theater environment

Take the step into the future of digital entertainment with Samsung. BD-P1450 is a revolutionary BD player with the most advanced, consumer driven features currently available. Experience a new world of wonder, a world in which digital dreams become digital delight. With unsurpassed image and sound, movies become more than mere entertainment; they become as lifelike and real as you could ever imagine. Share the delight with family and friends; the crisp clarity of sound, the perfect image integrity, the total immersion in a phenomenal home theater experience.

>>1080p Full HD
>>HDMI version 1.3
>>BD/DVD/CD Playback >>Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC)
>>DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, Dolby True HD, Bitstream out support
>>Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital+, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio decoding
>>Ethernet for Firmware Upgrade

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Samsung Launches Powerful Memory Camcorder with Longest Battery Life and High Quality Video

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. unveiled a powerful compact digital camcorder, the MX20, with its newly developed platform that enables higher video quality and longer recording times. The new MX20 also allows users to upload their files to iPod and YouTube without transcoding the files.

“The MX20 is the next-generation camcorder engineered for people who want to capture more vivid memories and easily share them on multimedia devices and the internet,” said Sang Ryong Kim, Senior Vice President of the Camcorder Business Team at Samsung Electronics. “Leveraging Samsung’s unique features with iPod and YouTube, consumers can keep more of their memories with ease.”

With its best-in-class semi-conductor chips and image processing technology, Samsung has developed a new platform offering high video quality, longer recording times and low power consumption for SD camcorders to meet customer’s demands. With the high performance of the new platform, Samsung’s MX20 features the longest battery life in its class – up to three hours.

The new MX20 is the first to apply H.264 CODEC to SD camcorders. Compared to SD camcorders using MPEG-2, the MX20’s H.264 enhances video quality and recording times significantly. In the “fine” mode, Samsung’s MX-20 camcorder can record up to 4 hours of footage using an 8GB memory card, 8 hours using a 16GB memory card, and up to 16 hours using a 32GB card. Samsung’s MX20 with H.264 more than doubles the compression ratio so that it takes less time to send video files via email or upload them onto the internet.

Focusing on high video quality, Samsung’s MX20 with its new platform is packed with powerful technologies such as 3-D noise reduction technology for smooth video, Samsung’s own edge filter technology for stunning video details and clarity, and color control technology for original and natural colors.

The MX20 features a powerful, world-renowned Schneider lens with 34x optical zoom and Samsung’s improved Hyper Digital Image Stabilization, which compensates for the images caused by hand-shaking for sharper footage. The MX20 also includes advanced face detection technology which can automatically detect up to five faces and adjust the focus and diaphragm to ensure better composition. The new model optimizes the video quality with a high-performance 680K-pixel CCD sensor.

The MX20 features a unique shooting mode that allows users to select a resolution and format that’s ideal for uploading videos to an iPod or YouTube. Unlike other camcorders, users can easily import the video to iTunes and play it on iPod or other personal media players supporting H.264 without having to transcode the files. By selecting the Web and Mobile mode, the camcorder’s resolution is automatically adjusted to 640×480 (H.264 / AAC / MP4) and optimized for use on iPod or YouTube.

For active users, the MX20 is fully equipped with powerful functionalities in a stylish compact design. The camcorder offers Samsung’s exclusive swivel hand-grip which effortlessly adjusts for regular and those hard-to-reach low angle shots. It also has an advanced 2.7 inch screen LCD which helps users frame their subjects and review footage even under strong sunlight.

The MX20 offers useful iCheck and iScene modes. iCheck allows the user to quickly check remaining battery life and memory capacity without wasting time and energy by powering on; iScene allows the user to select up to 10 automatic scene modes for capturing the best footage no matter what environment they may be in. Samsung’s MX-20 camcorder also features a memory card slot for SD/SDHC and MMC+ (up to 32GB).

The Samsung MX20, offered in black, white, red and blue will be available in September.

About Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies with 2007 consolidated sales of US$103.4 billion. Employing approximately 150,000 people in 134 offices in 62 countries, the company consists of four main business units: Digital Media Business, LCD Business, Semiconductor Business and Telecommunication. Recognized as one of the fastest growing global brands, Samsung Electronics is a leading producer of digital TVs, memory chips, mobile phones and TFT-LCDs. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com.

(Samsung press release)

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Samsung Releases New Flash-based 1080i HD Camcorder

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. continues to improve its camcorder offerings with the addition of the HMX20C Progressive HD Flash-based camcorder.

Featuring full HD and a1080i mode with 30 frames-per-second recording capability, the HMX20C’s flash-based design makes this camcorder compact and easy-to-use. With an integrated docking station, users will find it simple to not only charge the HMX20C, but utilize the HDMI input and component connectivity to easily view home movies directly on an HDTV. Furthermore, users are able to connect the HMX20C to their laptop or PC via a USB connection and share their home movies with family and friends quickly and easily. For added value and convenience, this multifunctional HD camcorder also delivers among the best still camera functionality within a camcorder on the market – up to 8 megapixels size through pixel-rising technology.

“The HMX20C offers consumers the ability to record their precious memories in full 1920x1080i HD quality. Because this camcorder records onto flash memory, it offers quick start-up, great battery life and one of the smallest bodies in the industry,” said Sang Ryong Kim, senior vice president of Camcorder Business Team, Samsung Electronics. “The HMX20C is extremely versatile and can be used to shoot HD video footage in virtually any situation. Everyone from aspiring filmmakers to parents shooting their childrens’ first birthday can capture their memories in beautiful HD quality.”

The HMX20C’s outstanding performance is the result of a cutting-edge design coupled with innovative technologies in HD recording. The camcorder features a 6.4-megapixel CMOS with electronic image stabilization so that even action-packed scenes project come through with clarity. Featuring an HDMI-CEC (Anynet+) high-quality connection to HDTVs and other devices, consumers can easily control the camcorder through their Samsung HDTV remote while viewing movies – one more feature that strives to make life simpler.

With the unique feature of high speed capture and super slow motion playback, the HMX20C allows consumers to record fast motion at 300 frames per second for up to 10 seconds and then drastically slow down the playback of the recording. Perfect for sports fanatics looking to tape and analyze their golf-swing in slow motion, or anyone interested in getting the detail of fast-flying events that otherwise would be undetectable to the human eye, this special function opens up a new world to users.

Samsung also engineered its new HD camcorder to be significantly more powerful than previous models. The 8GB of built-in flash memory helps to ensure that nothing is lost for lack of space and users also have the option of recording onto high-capacity SDHC/MMC+ cards via the additional card slot.

In addition to ample memory and superb recording capabilities, the HMX20C also delivers among the best still pictures of any camcorder on the market. The HMX20C has a few unique features traditionally found on digital still cameras such as a pop-up strobe flash, an automatic built-in lens cap and advanced face detection to automatically bring facial features into crisp focus, delivering high-quality images.

At only 10.9 ounces, the HMX20C fits easily into the palm for quick-and-easy shooting. For further convenience, the HMX20C comes equipped with features that make it straightforward to use. Samsung’s proprietary swivel hand-grip makes it possible to record from multiple angles, including regular and low-angle shots, while the 2.7-inch wide-aspect touchscreen LCD makes editing on the fly easy. Additionally, the iCheck function lets the user know how much memory and battery life remains to ensure not a second is lost.

Finally, Samsung has designed the HMX20C to be both stylish and ergonomically correct. Its design utilizes trends seen in the fashion and car industries, resulting in a camcorder that’s as elegant as it is practical.

(Samsung press release)

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I survived the Microwarehouse midyear sale

So last Friday I went to the Microwarehouse Midyear Sale 2008 at a familiar, former haunting grounds called Eastwood (where my former employer is based; worked there 2005-2006). The sale was scheduled to start at 12 noon Friday, and I spent the majority of the morning at a certain clinic in Makati for my medical examination. And since a complete blood count was part of the exam, I was on fasting mode Thursday night. So immediately after the exam, ate at Chowking at SM Makati. I had hoped that it would be enough to last me on that day.

Well, I was assuming that it would be fast. I was wrong.

I arrived there a few minutes after 12 noon. There was already a queue, and the tail end was at the door already. Registration was required, and it took more than 30 minutes from the time I got there. My number was 212, and to my chagrin, they were only allowing 20 persons to get in at a time; after I got my number, the number was 90.

While there was a price list posted online, some came in with no particular item in mind. Well I had a shopping list of sorts, and here they are:

* Linksys NAS200 Network Attached Storage – priced at Php 5500.00; at Villman, the price is Php 6498.00
* Linksys WRT54G Broadband Wireless-G Router – priced at Php 1500 (refurbished); they were also selling brand new units for Php 2200.
* Linksys WRT54GC Compact Broadband Wireless-G Router – priced at Php 2000 (refurbished); brand new at Villman is Php 2288.
* Linksys WUSB54GS Wireless G USB Network Adapter with SpeedBooster – refurbished was priced at Php 1000, brand new at Php 1500; at Villman, this cost Php 2688.

Failed at getting the network attached storage (there was only one item available for sale). I got the compact router (I hope it is working; haven’t set up the home network yet) and a brand new USB network adapter. I also managed to get a Belkin iPod Canvas Holster for Php 250, and an Exo Black Skin for Php 10 (yep, ten pesos).

And then there was another queue for paying. Yeah, another queue. Took more than 30 minutes. So I got in at around 12 noon, and checked out at 4:30pm.

Now on to get a broadband Internet provider. And that’s another story.

Zemanta Pixie

MSI Wind out in Q2

MSI‘s answer to Asus eee pc, the Wind, is set to be released by the end of the 2nd quarter of this year, with price range of US$ 470 to 1099, depending on the specs. That includes 8.9- or 10-in screen (1024×768 resolution), hard disk or solid state drive, Intel Atom processor (conjecture; Intel will ship Atom by June) in 1- to 1.6GHz speeds, and probably 1 GB of memory.

It is a bit expensive comparing to 1st gen eee, but competitive in terms of the 2nd generation eee. I think I like it, but it pays to wait again he he.

(Image from Trusted Reviews, via Engadget.)


Shopping for a laptop, 4

If you are shopping for a cheap laptop but does not like the Asus eee PC’s form factor, now is about the right time.

Strolling around Cyberzone at SM Megamall, I noticed that prices of Celeron-powered laptops have dropped considerably. So I looked at the Web sites of PC Corner, PC Express, and Asianic, and saw the following:

* Neo Q-Note Endura 320SU, priced at Php 19999 (contrary to the image shown at the page)
* Neo Q-Note Endura 540SL2c, priced at Php 19999 (not yet shown on Web site, but can be found on the downloadable price list of PC Corner and PC Express)

Both machines are Celeron-powered. Note that both units are available while supply lasts. Most prices have dropped due to the coming of second quarter, and Intel will release dual-core Celerons soon.

You might also want to check out the following:

* Acer Aspire 4715Z-1A0508MI, a Pentium Dual Core at Php 28,999 (PC Corner)
* MSI MegaBook VR330, an AMD Athlon 64 X2 at Php 24999 (PC Corner)

And with the 2nd-generation Asus eee PC priced at estimated Php 30,+++ at PC Corner, I suggest you wait for the eee competiting products from Acer, ECS, and MSI.


Shopping for a laptop, 3 (or how getting one can screw you up)
Shopping for a laptop, 2
Shopping for a laptop


Acer unveils Gemstone Blue

Acer has just announced its Gemstone Blue, an upgrade to its Gemstone laptop series. It got the appelation blue due to the the distinctive shade of the shell, and the fact that it sports Blu-Ray drives.

The display comes in 16″ and 18″, full 16:9 widescreen, and maximum resolution of 1920×1080, with video delivered by INVIDIA GeForce GS processor. It also carries 5 integrated speakers for true 5.1 sound delivered by Dolby Home Theater, Tuba CineBass booster and True5.1 CineSurround.

At the core of the series is the processor, of course. These machines are driven by Intel Centrino processors, Penryn, of course, with up to maximum of 4GB RAM.

The CineDash is the Star Trek-like interface found at the left side of the keyboard. CineDash is just a specialized interface for controlling media apps. Unfortunately, there is no right-side version.

Two models have been announced: Aspire 6920G and 8920G, and both are due next month. Not sure about a Philippine release date. Of course, they won’t come in cheap. The cheapest is priced around US$900 (that’s Php 36900 at US$1=Php41 conversion rate).

Prices of Gemstone laptops should drop by the time these Aspires hit retailers’ shelves.

Technical specifications below:

Aspire 6920G Aspire 8920G
Processor and Chipset Intel Centrino
Intel Core2 Duo
Mobile Intel PM965 Express Chipset
Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN
Memory DDR2 667 MHz, up to 4GB using 2 soDIMM modules (dual channel)
Hard disk 1 or 2 HDD, up to 320GB each
Optical drive 1X Blu-Ray Disc Super Multi double layer or 8x DVD Super Multi double layer 2X Blu-Ray Disc Super Multi double layer or 8x DVD Super Multi double layer
Video NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GS, up to 12808 MB Turbo Cache (512MB dedicated, up to768MB shared) NVIDIA GeForce 9650 GS or NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GS, up to 12808 MB Turbo Cache (512MB dedicated, up to768MB shared)
Display 16″ Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
16″ 1366×768 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
18.4″ Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
Sound Dolby Home Theater, Acer CineSurround with 5 integrated speakers, Tuba CineBass
Ports ExpressCard, 4 USB ports, HDMI, infrared, VGA, RF-in, headphone/speaker/line-out with S/PDIF, mic-in, line-in
Connectivity WiFi A/B/G/N
56K modem
Weight 3.5KG with 8-cell battery 4.1KG with 8-cell battery
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate or Home Premium