Archive for the ‘Consumer Electronics’ Category

How to beat the iPod

Monday, September 18th, 2006

The Zen Vision W launched in the US today and I took a look at the specs on Creative’s website. Looks like a pretty cool product, but they’ve got some work in the marketing department. Maybe they figure this thing will market itself.

Apple has probably the best marketing team in the consumer electronics and computer world right now. Creative should consider taking a page out of their book to win in the marketplace. Below are a few examples how they might combat Apple’s marketing team.

#1. Make your product pages clear and concise.

A little bird sent me this page today:

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When you click “Learn More” find out more, you are taken to this page:

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Um, ok, whatever.

#2. Sell the benefit, not the specs.

Ok, so it looks like the Zen will hold 15,000 songs. Cool.

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Except, maybe there was a misprint because one of them costs more than the other one and it has 60GBs instead of 30GBs of space.

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Nope, they meant to put that there. Congrats, my mom just bought the cheaper one!

So, if you can’t accomplish the other 2, at least:

#3. Try not confuse users.

Creative seems to have sent their “B” marketing team on this product. How the hell are you expecting to beat the iPod if you can’t figure out how to sell your device. For a device named the Zen, the site and the product seem awfully difficult to use.

This post is a little mean spirited, but I want the Zen to be better. Competition is the thing that drives product development and gets us better products. Maybe the Zune will bring their “A” team to the table.

Apple’s Showtime event

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

dsc_1067.jpgWhile Showtime lacked a few expected items, overall, this was a nice big present to current iPod owners and a cue that Apple has nothing to worry about from their competitors.

iTunes 7

Includes two of the most requested features automatic cover downloads and gapless playback. New cover browse mode (no secret of why they added automatic cover download, eh?) From a quick test, it seems to have better playback of video (thank god).

I just installed it on my box at home and while it did take over an hour to analyze my music catalog for gapless playback (it’s over 100Gb), it seems to have picked out most of the tracks that I would expect to be gapless(certain Beatles albums, live performances, opera). A nice touch is that those changes carry over to the iPod, which I haven’t tested.

The interface is cleaned up a lot on iTunes and includes iPod status, Coverflow views and a personal favorite, View Options that are dependent on the media type (Podcast, Video, Songs). This is super helpful in creating smart playlists.

Movie and Game Downloads

The newest bits of content on the iTunes Store (as it is know called) are movie and game downloads. All videos are 640×480(or less depending on aspect ratio) and will play on 5th Generation iPod. Movies are available in both widescreen and 4×3. A little sparse with the first set of movies as they are starting with movies from Buena Vista and Disney. Other studios are on their way and if you remember, the television store started with only ABC. Currently, there are only 75 movies on the service.

Games are a very interesting suprise as most people don’t think of Apple as being much of a games company, but my feeling is that this is aimed squarely at further differentiating the iPod from others. One fun bit here is that you can play games while listening to music on the iPod.

New iPod(s)

Ok, so not really a new iPod, but I think that Engadget named it 5.5G. It has a brighter screen and longer battery life. The 30Gb version went to Weight Watchers and is sporting a slightly slimmer look and an 80Gb model was added because they could.

Nano – 2, 4, and 8gb models that look like the old Mini shrank down to a more portable size. God I hate those colors…
Shuffle – 1Gb model with some shrinkage – looks like a matchbook.

The lack of widescreen iPod will be disappointing to many (including me), but I have to say, Apple is making a tidy profit on the current iPod and a new widescreen iPod would surely cost them more to make. Personally, I’m stoked my current 5G iPod got a new lease on life.

iTV

Steve said that this was a code name (iTV is pronounced “EyeTV“), so don’t expect it to ship with this name. This is a wireless device that will play video, audio and pictures from iTunes. It’s got HDMI and component video as it’s only video outs, so you can make your own HD assumptions here. It will launch in 2007, presumably with the real 6G iPod.

Overall, while their wasn’t a new iPod, current customers are probably pretty happy with the new features of iTunes and their current 5G iPods.

Watch the SteveNote

Links for Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday, September 11th, 2006

What is pretexting?
I’ve only kinda sorta followed the whole HP fiasco, but here is Valleywag’s explanation of what the hell pretexting is.

New Influencers
Draft chapters of the new book Paul Gillin about blogging and the influence it has in the world. Paul wrote the book to “help marketers understand the changes that social media are creating in influence patterns in their customer base.” [via MicroPersuasion]

Apple Rumor Roundup Roundup
It’s “Showtime” for something from Apple tomorrow. Here’s a list of the prognosticators:

Wired Blogs – Wired has collected a brilliant set of mockups
TechCrunch
TUAW
Gizmodo
MacRumors
ThinkSecret
The Apple Core

Fill your iPod, fill your head

Friday, September 8th, 2006

indexclickwheel20050907.gifHere’s a little weekend fun for you and your iPod.

I’ve found that my iPod usage is a little unusual. First, my music collection is somewhere in the 130 gb range (most of it legal) and that while I do listen to music on my iPod, I listen to podcasts and watch video podcasts more often.

While there is a tremendous amount of crap out there, I’ve found some real gems that introduce me to new topics, challenge my way of thinking or just feel smart.

Here are my top 5 brainy podcasts both audio and video. All links are into the iTunes Music Store.

  1. TEDTalks
    I’ve talked about TEDTalks here before and this video series rarely disappoints. With Al Gore, Julia Sweeney, Jimmy Wales, Nicholas Negroponte and a host of others, the talks given are rarely boring and always thought provoking.
  2. NY Times Talks
    Interviews with Larry David, William Gibson, Bill Murray and talks with Randy Cohen (The Ethicist) are highlights of this podcast series.
  3. Distributing the Future
    This O’Reilly series spotlights the best talks from their conferences featuring leaders from the tech industry. This series is consistently interesting and educational.
  4. NPR Story of the Day
    Story of the Day runs the gamut of NPR’s daily stories and generally delivers a very interesting story that you won’t hear anywhere else.
  5. The Show with ZeFrank
    “He thinks so you don’t have to.” ZeFrank is one part the Daily Show on speed mixed with a teenager’s diary. Tight editing and thought provoking topics (and often just plain ridiculous). If ZeFrank is the future of video podcasting, we’re in for a great future.

Enjoy your weekend, sports racers.

Links for Friday, September 8, 2006

Friday, September 8th, 2006

Amazon Unbox beats Apple to the punch
Launched yesterday with Amazon front page hoopla. Now, all they need is a device that integrates well with the service. I’m planning a review of the service over the weekend.

TextExpander Review
Productivity guru and Mac nut, Merlin Mann’s review of this great productivity tool. Now, if I could just get some work done rather than goofing off with productivity tools.

RC of Parallels available
Now works with the Mac Pro and if you are super cutting edge both Leopard and Vista. This product gets better with every release. Great job, Parallels team!

Original Signal:Gadgets
In a hurry, but need a quick gadget fix. The guys at Original Signal are at it again with their gadget feed page. They offer up all the latest feeds from gadget blogs on the web in a convenient one page website.

Thursday Links

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Apple’s having a bad week…

Apple settles with Creative for $100mm
I’ve got no real opinion on this other than, it sucks for Apple to lose a UI/Look and Feel case twice, once for each side. Oy. Of course, I’d take Apple’s market share minus $100 million in cash any day.

Apple recalls 1.8 million laptop batteries
2nd largest battery recall in history. Sometimes lesser market share isn’t such a bad thing. God, I hope Sony is paying for all this. Apple Recall Page

AOL to offer pay video downloads
No big shocks here, but this space is getting crowded. Movie downloads will be priced between the now standard $10 and $20 marks. I think I need to do a roundup of these services real soon now.

Don’t Download This Song
Weird Al encourages file sharing with sarcasm. Ok, I know he’s done, but sometimes, you gotta love Weird Al.

Amazon Unbox Video launched?

Friday, August 18th, 2006

Methinks someone pushed the wrong button at Amazon.

Gizmodo
Kokogiak.com

Here are some pix, click for bigger images.

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More in my Flickr stream.

It looks like the video will work on some portable players, will contain DRM, Mac users need not apply, and you will be able to rent as well as buy.

Check it out

Wednesday Links

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Duran Duran to perform live on Second Life?
Wow, washed up rockers can live forever in their Second Life. This is huge!

DirecTV ships HD DVR
Might be time to start looking at DirecTV again. Have I mentioned how the Comcast DVR is Sucktastic? [via Engadget]

Life Explained
Now here is a video sharing site I can use. VideoJug shows you how to do stuff like tie a windsor knot, unblock your toilet, and of course how to make a Knickerbocker Glory, whatever the hell that means. Great site if you can get past those wacky British accents. [via PVRWire]

Monday links

Monday, August 14th, 2006

New York Times compares Canon’s H10 to Sony’s HC3
HD camera smack-down! It’s pretty amazing how quickly these cameras dropped in price.

User created games on Xbox 360
Looks like MS made it a lot easier to create games for the Xbox. This really opens up 3rd party development for the Xbox to almost anyone who develops games.

Peter Moore on the Long Tail of Gaming
Xbox head honcho talks about rationale for opening up the Xbox.

Fox to sell video download on MySpace
Between this and the Google deal, I think this whole MySpace thing might make Rupert Murdoch some money after all.

Monday Links

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Microsoft Photosynth demo
Wow… I never say wow about Microsoft products (unless it’s wow, that’s lame or wow, have you heard of usability?). But this is a very cool 3d photo visualization tool. [via Addicted to Digital Media]

Jeff’s Quick Guide to TV on the Net
Get your fix here. Comprehensive guide to repurposed television shows on the net. [via PVRBlog]

Newton takes down Samsung UMPC
No love lost for the Newton, but a brand new piece of tech taken down by the old school handheld… gotta love it. [via Engadget]

Monday links

Monday, July 24th, 2006

Mergers, wikis and movies, oh my!

AMD buys ATI
Are any TLA companies starting with “A” safe from this insanity?

SocialText goes open source and JotSpot goes 2.0
Two wikis enter, one wiki leaves. Will the open source wonder take down its more usable, more expensive foe?

Amazon to offer movie downloads
Jobs better get their service out soon before everyone else does.

Monday Links

Monday, July 17th, 2006

Movielink to allow movies transferred to DVD
Didn’t they already do that? Maybe it was the other guys.

Build your own iPod HiFi
Two in wall speakers, $200. Two dead Mac Classics, $25. Retro iPod HiFi, priceless.

Yahoo! to the 9’s
Daily video feature of the top 9 videos from the web. No podcast, so you gotta watch it on Yahoo! And just as an aside, apparently Yahoo! finally figured out how to do video that works with a Mac. Maybe one day Launch will actually work outside of IE6 on Windows.
[via CNET]

EyeTV meet FrontRow, FrontRow meet EyeTV

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

I’ve been a mostly happy user of EyeTV for about a year now (I’ve got the EyeTV 500 for recording digital TV signals), but I’d always hoped that they would go the 10 foot interface route.

eyetvmenu.jpg

I use EyeTV in our kitchen and record programs mainly for my daughter and to stream signals to a network DVD player in my bedroom. My biggest complaint with EyeTV is that unlike it’s PC brethren (Windows Media Center, SageTV, and Beyond TV), it lacked a good way to control it from far away.

The new version of EyeTV will work in full screen mode (that is a little more than an homage to Apple’s FrontRow)and it appears most of the features will be accessible from a remote control. The upgrade will work with the Apple remote or the remote that was bundled with the EyeTV hardware. Unfortunately, there are no screen shots of program scheduling or upcoming schedules, but the two screen shots they have provided, it seems that they are keen to keep the simplicity of the FrontRow interface, for better or worse.

playlist.jpg

It’s a bit strange that this is a dot release for EyeTV given their recent upgrade from 1.x to 2.0 was a small upgrade feature-wise and they charge $79. This upgrade completely changes EyeTV into a TV friendly application, rather than merely a way to watch television on your desktop.

As a first release, I’m sure that their will be some kinks to work out, but I look forward to the EyeTV upgrade later this month. Kudos to Elgato for continuing to build and improve this great Mac program.

Thursday Links

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

CinemaNow gets more funding
$20mm should help… I thought bandwidth was free?

GUBA inks deal with Sony
These guys are on a roll.

Efax: How not to treat your customers
I had a free account cancelled for overuse. Apparently, their customer service isn’t so great, either. [via Daring Fireball]

Looking back at Hotwired
Hotwired rejoins Wired so what better time than now to look back it’s interesting history. [via Daring Fireball]

Thursday Links

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

ReplayTV resurrected?
looks like my old pal ReplayTV is back from the dead in the form of PC software. But for $100 and a $20 yearly guide fee, uh-uh. Replay, you were my first and my favorite, why did you have to piss off the TV industry so? See Dave Zatz for more commentary.

Yahoo! Messenger for Mac 3.0 in beta
I gave up on you so long ago, Yahoo! Messenger. Check out what your friends in at AdiumX are doing. [Via Jeremy Zawodny]

IDEA Design Awards on Businessweek.com
Always very shiny, very pretty.

Tuesday Links

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Toshiba wants unified DVD format
god, as much as I want a single HD disc format, this smells like fear.

Farecast launches public beta today I’ve been using this for a few weeks to book flights to various places. If you are in Seattle or Boston, or just a flight pricing nerd, check it out. [Via CNET]

I ditched iCal
Making the switch to Google’s online calendar.