Category: Tech Reviews


iPhone 4 Review

Much like the iPod revolutionised MP3 players, the iPhone 3G revolutionised the mobile phone and PDA markets across the globe, offering a sleek and powerful device that appealed to users of all demographics. Today marks the launch of the brand new iPhone 4 nationwide, and while the launch in the US has been fraught with complaints, law suits and recalls, just how good is Apple’s latest gadget?

You can read the full article at http://pc.mmgn.com/Reviews/Australian-iPhone-4-Review

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For those of you out there who spent their time downloading the highly anticipated iOS 4 yesterday, only to find no wallpaper or multi-tasking support for your 3G device fear not! Below is an easy solution to enable all the features of the new OS on your aging device. Please note: This solution will jailbreak your device, I take no responsibility if you you brick your device, so please complete with caution.

Step 1) Download the iOS 4 update from iTunes and install it to your iPhone 3G/iPod Touch device.

Step 2) Copy the IPSW file to your desktop. This file will be located in username\library\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates (For Example: Hellerphant\library\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates\iPhone1,2_4.0.IPSW)

Step 3) Download redsn0w jailbreak app here.

Step 4) Follow the instructions, tick “enable multi-tasking” and “enable wallpapers” and you are set once the app does it’s thing.

This is a solution for mac users, sorry those of you on Windows machines, you’ll have to find your own way.

There has been a lot of talk about Google all across the internet since their conference this week. The internet giant unleashed details on their long awaited GoogleTV project, and proved that they are finally a serious competitor to the iPhone with the details of Android 2.2 – codename: Froyo. What exactly can you expect from the new update?

The Home Screen

There has been a slight update to the home screen that surely does come in handy and will have you wondering how you lived without it in the past. There are dedicated Phone, Application Launcher and Browser shortcuts on the Home Screen which are easy to access across all five home screen panels. Aside from this we are offered a new Home Screen Tips Widget which will show users how to configure their home screens with shortcuts and widgets. Aside from these two features you won’t notice much of a difference, but having that browser shortcut on all of your home screens does come in handy.

Microsoft Exchange Support

For those of you using your Android device in a Microsoft work environment, Exchange support has been giving a substantial upgrade to make your life easier. Some of the features included in 2.2 are.

Remote Wipe: Exchange administrators can reset to factory defaults to secure your data if you lose your phone or it is stolen, all from the comfort of an office chair.
Exchange Calendars: Now supported in the native Calendar application.
Auto-discovery: No need to memorize all those pesky server addresses or port settings, for those using Exchange 2007 or higher all you need is your user-name and password to setup your Exchange account.
Global Address Lists: Directly from the Email application you can perform name lookups from your Exchange Global Address Lists, pretty handy for users on the move.

Portable Hotspot

Rumors had been floating around that some form of mobile tethering system would be implemented in the next Android Update and I am glad to report that 2.2 delivers. Devices such as the Nexus One can be turned into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared between 8 devices. Or if you prefer you can plug your phone in via USB to a laptop and share the 3G connection for internet access. In other words no need to pay the extra cash for the 3G iPad, just get the Wi-Fi version and connect it to your Nexus One while you are on the go!

Speed Demon

Early reports stated that Froyo was going to be a speed demon when compared to 2.1 and I’m happy to say Google have delivered on this promise. A new engine called the V8 makes loading Java-Script a breeze, with Google now holding the title of the fastest phone browsing experience in the world. Let’s not forget that 2.2 allows support for Adobe Flash 10.1! Sorry iPhone/iPad users, Apple kinda let you down in that department. It still remains to be seen if Flash on a phone is a good idea, but at least 2.2 allows you to make that decision.

Along with the vast browser improvements the implementation of JIT (Just-In-Time) compiler you can expect a 2x-5x speed performance boost across the board of your applications! This also allows for smoother transitions and faster application switching.

Over The Air Updates

Soon the Android Marketplace will be accessible from your PC where you can download applications to your computer. Utilizing Over The Air updates, the application will then be automatically installed to your android device. Same goes with the music you buy from the Amazon store, no need to sync your device with your PC!

Another great feature utilizing OTA updates is direct streaming your iTunes Library wirelessly to your Froyo enabled device. Note this will only work on non-DRM content.

Tidbits

Along with these key points you will notice refined pinch to zoom controls for browsing and other applications, hardware compass access to the browser that is handy for real time map reading, accessing camera form the browser, voice support for Google Translate, installation of applications and running them from the SD card and many more.

So When Can You Expect It?

2.2 is being rolled out across Nexus One users right now. For those of you using any Android devices from 2010 or perhaps the very end of 2009 the update will be coming in the next few weeks. For those on older devices I’m sorry to report that you are shit out of luck. Don’t worry though, the very talented and active mod community will have something running for your device shortly no doubt! 🙂

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Twitter has quickly risen from a new Social Networking tool to becoming an integral part of every day life for people on the go. This is largely due to the vast majority of users Tweeting on the go from various web based clients and applications from their mobile devices. Finding a Twitter client that is suited to your wants and needs can be hard, especially without guidance. So to help you navigate the vast jungle of clients available on the Android Marketplace, I have compiled a shortlist of the ones that are worth checking out. All of these clients are free, and the review is based upon usage on a HTC Nexus One. So without further delay, let’s get Tweeting!

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Twidroid

Twidroid is the most popular Twitter app on the Android Marketplace and has a loyal following. The free version certainly has a lot of features, but the paid version will unlock additional features such as the ability to link multiple accounts and to upload video.

What Twidroid Does Right:

  • Easy to navigate User Interface. There is never screen clutter with the toolbar down the bottom to navigate to Home Feed, DM, Mentions and search.
  • Tapping on a tweet brings up a clean overlay that features the mentioned links, profiles and hashtags. Then there are easy buttons to Re-Tweet, reply and view a tweeters profile.
  • Configure Twidroid to do what you want it to. Set the frequency of notifications, font size, the number of tweets in your feed. Set it up how you want it.

What Twidroid Needs To Improve:

  • When viewing user profiles you can’t select tweets. This makes it hard when viewing a new followers profile, or tweets that are missed out in your feed due to the maximum size of your timeline.
  • Slow and unreliable. I found that Twidroid had performance issues and often crashed. Updates fix this on certain devices but it still is rather sluggish compared to some of the other clients out there.

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Swift

Swift is quickly picking up a fan base among Android users. While the interface may take some time to get used to, the functionality in this application makes it worth a look.

What Swift Does Right:

  • Performance is where it’s at when it comes to a mobile Twitter clients, and Swift has that in spades. Loads quickly and updates feed fast and furiously.
  • Unlike other Twitter clients that limit the number of tweets appearing in your feed, Swift keeps a constant feed, allowing you to back track and respond to everything in your backlog. Don’t worry, there is a convenient “Jump To Now” button so you don’t have to scroll all the way back to the top.
  • Ever tried to send a Tweet and lose network connection, and have your awesome joke just vanish? Well Swift will automatically resend failed tweets until they get onto the internet! A very handy feature!
  • When selecting a tweet with a shortened link Swift will show you the full URL so you can decide if it’s worth loading up on your mobile browser.

What Swift Needs To Improve:

  • You can’t view your own profile unless you search for yourself or select a tweet mentioning you, and sometimes you just really need to check your profile out.
  • While the user interface is clean and free of clutter, it just isn’t as intuitive as other solutions on the Android platform.
  • Sometimes you won’t receive confirmation that your tweet has been successful, so when in doubt check your feed to avoid double posting.

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Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a robust Twitter application that has been available on the iPhone for a while now, but is relatively new to the Android platform. Offered in a free version that limits the user to three accounts or a full fledged version which offers limitless accounts plus stat tracking.

What Hootsuite Does Right:

  • Gorgeous and functional user interface. The screen is never cluttered and each feed is hosted on a separate screen which can be viewed simply by flicking across the screen like the home screen function of the Android Home Screen.
  • Fast, speedy and reliable service. Hootsuite is one of the fastest Twitter clients around and I have yet to have it crash on me.
  • Background notifications. Even when the application is closed Hootsuite will notify you when you have been mentioned on Twitter. More often than not it notified me before my desktop PC client would.
  • When you have a lot of mentions from one person if you click on that tweet it will backtrack the whole conversation for you in one screen. Certainly comes in handy!

What Hootsuite Needs To Improve:

  • Getting used to so many screens can be intimidating to some users.

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Xeeku

Xeeku is one of the most feature laden Twitter clients I have ever used, some of which seem strange to say the least. If you can get past a user interface that looks like a Witch threw up on your screen, Xeeku could become a deadly tool in your mobile arsenal.

What Xeeku Did Right:

  • A comprehensive selection when viewing tweets. You can reply, retweet, go to the user profile, mentioned profile, open up a link or search Hashtags. The best option of all is the Gmail Share option which allows you to share the tweet with your friends and family who aren’t on Twitter via your Gmail account.
  • Much like Hootsuite, Xeeku will put all the @replies you have received from one user onto one screen so you can refer to your conversation.
  • Opening a user profile will bring up their “Friends Draw” which will show photos of the users they are following, much like the Twitter web page.
  • There is a Gallery option which opens up a random selection of featured user photos from the Xeeku website.

What Xeeku Needs To Improve:

  • Nasty user interface. A horrible selection of colours and gradients that makes it look like a Witch threw up on your screen. Messy and confusing row of buttons at the bottom of the screen also add to the horrible user interface.
  • If you want a customise your Twitter experience then stay away from Xeeku. It has no settings menu what-so-ever, as soon as you put in your account details, what you see is what you get.
  • Unreliable and inconsistent comes to mind when thinking about Xeeku. The app often crashes and is quite slow when compared to other clients out there.

The Final Verdict?

At the end of the day each of us are different and we all look for different qualities in a mobile Twitter experience. Some features will appeal more to others, but if you want a good base to start I highly recommend checking out Hootsuite. It’s gorgeous interface and reliability makes it my Twitter client of choice on the Android platform.

google-nexus-one-android-mobile-smartphone-g9flenajdgal.jpgSo you have been eyeing off one of these glorious Nexus One’s for a while now but still unsure if you want to go through all the trouble of importing one? I was just like you a few months ago, but my recent trip to the USA soon made owning one of these bad boys an easier task to handle. Before making the crucial decision I really wanted to know one simple thing: How does the Nexus One handle the Australian Telecommunication Climate. The answer to this question seemed too hard to find, so I hope this blog post will make it easier for you to make an informed decision.

Purchasing A Nexus One: Price and Delivery

Currently the Nexus One is not available in Australia for purchase and Google won’t ship one out to you. Here you have a few options. If you are like me you can just order one while you are on holiday in the states and get it delivered to your location overnight. Unfortunately I doubt many of you will be heading to the USA anytime soon and you want this phone now right? If you have friends you can simply get it delivered to them, and they can ship it across to you. There are also a number of mail forwarding companies that will accept the shipment, and then pass it on to you for a fee. Your only other options are Ebay or a select number of stores in Sydney who are importing these phones and selling them for a large profit.

Buying the phone direct from Google will sting you $520 USD which equates to roughly $560 AUD.

Network Profiles: Will It Work On Australian Networks?

Just recently AT&T released their version of the Nexus One, and I am happy to say the AT&T version is 100% compatible with the Telstra Next G Network. If you purchase the AT&T version it will work fine with Telstra and every other carrier within Australia. If you purchased the T-Mobile version then you will get 3G speeds in Metro Areas on Telstra, but when in the country you will only be connecting to the EDGE network. T-Mobile version will work fine on the Optus or Vodafone networks with 3G speeds. If you want to be sure, I’d say get the AT&T version if possible.

How Is The Nexus One?

I’ve been using the Nexus One in a country area for two weeks now and have had no issues with network performance what-so-ever. It runs like a dream and has superior speed and call quality to my iPhone 3G. While it won’t take over the iPhone market, the Nexus One is the first true Google Phone that pulls no punches in being a worthy alternative to the ever popular Apple device. Well worth the money in my opinion.

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For those who are new to the world of Mac, or even those who just can’t get enough of indie software that just works, you should be getting excited about the MacHeist nanoBundle 2 that is currently floating around on the web. MacHeist have put together some of the best indie software, dramatically slashed the price, and proceeds go to a number of good charities. So why not treat yourself to some new software, and help those in need while you are at it?

For the smooth price of $19.95USD you get yourself a copy of the following

  • MacJournal ($40) – The premiere blogging and journal keeping software. I’m posting from it right now 🙂
  • RipIt ($20) – Easy to use import software for your DVDs. Convert to play on your Apple TV, iPod or PC
  • Clips ($27) – A great clipboard program which keeps everything collected as you move throughout your day
  • Coverscout ($39.95) – It will find all those CD Covers that iTunes can’t
  • Flow ($25) – The best FTP Client out there for mac
  • Tales of Monkey Island ($35) – The whole first season of the great new game from Telltale Games
  • Rapid Weaver ($79) – A powerful and useable website builder for OSX

If you would find any of these tools useful I’d suggest getting online and buying this bundle as it is only available for 7 days!

Snow Leopard Review

review_LZWE7N The hotly anticipated Operating System dubbed Snow Leopard has finally hit shelves for Mac consumers across the globe. With it’s competitor Windows 7 sitting right behind it, how does the new OS X hold up?

First of all let’s layout the specs of the two machines we have tested Snow Leopard with.

Machine 1
Macbook – Aluminium Model
2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM
Nvidia GeForce 9400m

Machine 2
iMac
2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
4 GB 1067 MHz DDR2 RAM
Standard Intel Graphics

Installation is a breeze, simply pop in the disc, hit the install and away you go. No need to launch direct from the disc, Snow Leopard installs like an update rather than a clean installation. This is good in one respect, bad in others. For those who aren’t into the nitty gritty of their technology it’s a welcome prospect, feeling more like a system update than the daunting task of changing over to a new operating system. For the technology savvy the lack of ability to start a fresh is disappointing. When getting a new OS it’s always nice to start clean and fresh so you can put the new beast to the test. Snow Leopard simply doesn’t offer this feature, and while it’s not a deal breaker, it certainly is a feature that many will be sorely miss.

Installation time on the Macbook clocked in at a smooth 48 minutes, add an extra 5 minutes for the machine to index. For the record the Macbook had recently been formatted and didn’t have any photos, music or movies, just a bunch of documents and some work applications. The iMac on the other hand has been running for twelve months without a format. The iMac also has 85gb of music, thousands of photos, documents and a number of applications. The installation on this machine took 1 Hour and 25 minutes, with a further 15 minutes for indexing. Whether this was to do with the amount of data on the machine, or it’s inferior CPU is yet to be determined. Regardless the install time is rather standard and isn’t excruciatingly long. There in no user input after the installer starts so you can set it off and go out of the room and do something else which is a bonus.
Immediately after the indexing completed you can really notice a great speed boost in browsing your Mac. The dock is a lot smoother, stacks don’t take long to open up and are now scrollable, and launching applications is a lot quicker. This is due to Snow Leopard running everything in 64bit Architecture. It is simply amazing that a new operating system offers a speed boost, regardless of your machine specs.

Browsing through Finder is now more refined, and now viewing documents in the Cover Flow view is more stable, reliable and useful. Scrolling through documents but not sure the one you have selected is the one you are searching for? Simply hit the space bar key and you will be able to scroll through a real time preview of the document. It’s a handy feature for those who have their documents folder chocker-block full.

You may be surprised to see your hard-drive space suddenly increase. Apple claim that installing Snow Leopard will give you back approximately 7GB of hard drive space due to it’s smaller footprint. On the Macbook system we were give back 10GB and the iMac gave us back a whopping 12GB. For those of you running low on space, those seven or so gigabytes might help you out just that little bit.
Another huge feature set of the Snow Leopard OS is the complete make over of the Quicktime system. With a new intuitive interface, and the ability to import movies directly into Quicktime and export to Youtube, Quicktime has come a long way. The interface is clean, easy to use, and for many will now replace the freeware VLC player used by many.

So just how much of a difference will 64Bit Architecture make to your Mac experience? Going from the Apple website you are looking at 1.3x faster performance on Quicktime Player Launch, 1.5x for Safari JavaScript and 1.2x for opening a large PDF Document. From all out tests, applications certainly open faster, scrolling through finder is smooth, fast and responsive, and everything just feels to be so much faster.

The big selling point for corporate users is now Apple’s Mail will completely interface with Microsoft Exchange 2007 environments. Office users in a Microsoft Environment will now have no trouble whatsoever accessing their mail, contacts or calendar appointments.

All these features aside Leopard users aren’t going to notice a huge upgrade in the way of cosmetics or functionality when upgrading to Snow Leopard. Many of the conventions introduced in Leopard back in 2007 have just been more refined this time around.

In that respect this really feels like more of an update rather than a new Operating System. Cosmetically it’s no different to Leopard, but for those of you who get down under the hood of you mac experience, you will notice a quantum leap with the 64bit architecture, Open CL and many of the new features.

The Final Verdict
Simply put Snow Leopard is a fantastic package that takes the technical side of OS X to the next level. Unless you are down with the mechanics of you Mac though, the lack of cosmetic upgrades will make you feel like this was more of a system update rather than a new Operating System. It may not be as revolutionary as Leopard was in 2007, or the upcoming Windows 7 for PC, but it certainly will keep Mac users happy for the next few years.

Overall
9/10

081104_iphone For those of you who don’t already have an iPhone 3G the choice is simple, go for the 3Gs. You will be signing up to a 24 month contact, so it’s worth getting the best that is available at the time. Yet for so many early adopters across Australia (or the globe for that matter) many are wondering whether to pay out their contract and upgrade to the 3Gs.

WAKE UP!First of all you will be left to pay out 12 months worth of phone contract and then turn around and sign back up for another 24 months for a phone that is marginally better. Let’s get the run-down on the features….

Better Camera – Now includes video
A compass
Up to 2 x Better Performance in some Apps
Voice Dialing features
Longer Battery Life

Wow such compelling reasons to upgrade! How often do you sit with your current 3G iPhone and think to yourself “fuck, I wish I could read my mail NOW not two seconds from now”. While the video features and autofocus camera would be nice, it’s not as if you should be using your iPhone for pivotal family snaps, and voice dialing is nice but not a feature that is necessary.

Extended battery life is a bonus, but it’s not going to warrant shelling out all that cash.

Just hold your horses for another 12 months, then we should see another new iPhone hit the market, one that feels like a brand new device, not just iPhone 3G 1.5

iPhone App Round-Up

Well I’ve had my iPhone 3G since launch day here in Australia and in those few months the app store has really picked up with some useful applications. Problem is with so many bogus apps out there it’s hard to know what’s worth the cash and what isn’t, so here I’ve listed some apps that are functional and worth checking out!

First up is productive app called “Air Sharing” by Avatron Software. This app allows you to share documents of all kinds, word, excel, pages, PDF an many more from your PC, Mac or Linux machine to your iPhone. You can take your important docs with you and access them when you need them. Get in quick as Avatron are offering it as a Free Download for the first 2 weeks!

Facebook is the new social networking giant, and with an all new iPhone app it’s easy to stay in touch with friends on the go. Change profile details, post photos directly from your iPhone and write on walls with this free, easy to use app

While Myspace isn’t the cool thing anymore enough people still use it to make the team create a first class iPhone app. In my opinion a nicer app than Facebook and it’s free!

Tap Tap Revenge is my favourite iPhone game. Basically it’s like guitar hero for the iPhone, online leaderboards, downloadable tracks and a classy interface makes this a must have app, and it’s free!

Palringo is hands down the best iPhone IM client out there, supporting nearly all providers, and sporting great interface and features this is a must have app for messengers on the go, and it’s free!

And last but not least my favourite app Remote. This app allows you to control you iTunes on your computer by using your iPhone, eating dinner in one room and a song comes on that you simply cannot stand? Just change it using remote without even leaving the table!

So my friends start downloading and if you know of any other good apps please let me know so I can check them out!

**Blog posted using WordPress blogging tool for iPhone**

TiVo Lands in Aus

11 years ago a little device was launched in the US called TiVo. It apparently revolutionised Television viewing for the whole country. I had often heard of the device as it is constantly mentioned in TV shows and the like, and when it was announced last year that TiVo was coming to Australia is was skeptical.
Unlike the USA where they have a large number of competitive networks, we are fairly limited here in Australia. The TiVo unit does NOT hook up to an Austar/Foxtel service to clarify that straight off the bat. I’ve been using my TiVo for the past three weeks, and I must say all my fears have been thrown out the window, and the device has opened my eyes to a wide selection of great viewing.
For those who aren’t familiar with WHAT TiVo is all about let me fill you in. Basically it’s a VCR for the new ages. Featuring 160gb of storage, through the use of an Electronic Program Guide that is accurate, you can tell the device to record shows for you. The TiVo has 2 HD Tuners, so this means you can record 2 shows, and you can be watching a third recording while this is happening! 
A simple and intuitive user interface, I had my partner up and running in minutes, and soon I found my hard drive filled with “So you think you can dance” and “Australia’s Next Top Model”. With a simple rating system of Thumbs up or Thumbs Down the TiVo adapts to your viewing. If you for instance give three thumbs up to Oprah, the TiVo will record shows for you that based on your ratings, it thinks you might like. This is a nifty feature as it recorded a bunch of shows I never would normally watch, and I enjoyed most of them.
Another cool feature is the “Season Pass” which allows you to tell the unit to record every episode of a TV series for instance. When in this mode you can also setup the unit to record based on inputs, I have told my TiVo to record anything to do with Soccer, so whenever something Soccer related comes on TV it will record it for me.
TiVo is out now, priced at $699 and available at Harvey Norman stores. It is great value for money, a simple and easy to use interface, allowing you to record you favourite shows, pause live TV, and when the update comes out next year we could be seeing a TV revolution in Australia