VidZone

VidZone-LadyGaGa

VidZone is a free music video application that you can download from the PlayStation Store and install to your PlayStation3. Once installed, it will appear under your music menu. The application lets you stream, apparently, thousands of music videos, for free, over your internet.

Unlike Sony’s previous efforts of bringing new features to the PlayStation3, such as Home and Photo Gallery, I was actually pleasantly surprised to find their latest offering to be rather good. The application’s interface looks quite nice with a typical Sony feel and polish, and it all loads up pretty quick too. On the home screen you’re presented with a large menu at the top of the screen, listing popular categories to choose your music from, such as: latest chart hits, dance chart etc. The currently playing list of songs appears on the right and you can create unlimited number of playlists.
Once you select a song to play, it starts playing pretty quickly and the quality of picture and sound is extremely good for a streamed feed. The video is played in a window, with an option to go full-screen. This isn’t actually full-screen, just a bit bigger than standard view. The choice of music available was surprisingly large and I enjoyed watching a few old faves and some new finds.

VidZone-FBS

The only issues I found were to do with the interface implementation, the controls not being very intuitive and feeling kind of clunky. I hope Sony fix this with an update soon.
Overall I give VidZone a big thumbs-up and recommend that all PS3 owners to at least give it a go, you may be pleasantly surprised by it. Hopefully it’s the start of many a decent new features for the PS3, it certainly needs them.

OpenDNS

One site that I always recommend to friends and family is OpenDNS. With a few simple changes to your router or computer you can move from using your ISP’s DNS server to the service provided by OpenDNS which I’ve found to be fast and reliable, certainly more so than the ISP’s I’ve used recently. So what is DNS and what does OpenDNS do?

DNS requests are made every day from your home connection. E-mails, web surfing, online gaming etc all make use of DNS. DNS turns real addresses (http://www.apple.com) into an IP address for the physical computer you want to connect to. It makes it easier to surf and also means an address can stay fixed while the computer changes in the background (to a different IP address). Usually you make use of your own ISP’s DNS server which in general works OK but from time to time can have issues. Speed, lack of redundancy and update issues are ones I’ve seen over the years.

OpenDNS provides a free DNS service that promises to resolve addresses quickly and also a few unique services that I certainly don’t get from my current ISP. Firstly there are anti-phishing features in place so that you will be warned and the phishing site intercepted should you be lead to one. There’s also spelling correction where OpenDNS will look at the URL you’ve typed and if it detects a typo it will redirect you to the correct site. Finally if you look up a site that cannot be resolved OpenDNS will display a page with alternatives.

ghhoogleopendns

What’s great about OpenDNS is that it’s simple to set-up and has helpful configuration page’s for a wide range of routers and computers. These take you through each step of logging in to the router, making the changes required and then checking that OpenDNS is set-up for your internet connection. There’s also other features like shortcut’s which you can take advantage off. Enter a shortcut name and the page that should be looked up if typed. For example, type blog to visit your blog without typing in the address, news to visit BBC News – the possibilities are endless. The nice thing about shortcuts is they apply across all your network so aren’t set up on a per machine basis.

The OpenNDS website also provides some stats about the number of requests, top domains and gives you the ability to block domains if you want finer control of the content that can be accessed on your network.

Although better performance can’t be guaranteed and in some cases will be very small I’ve always made a point of checking every few months to make sure that OpenDNS is a better option than my current ISP. With both O2 and Virgin Media, swapping to OpenDNS made quite a difference and in the case of my neighbours just over a week ago the difference to their OneTel connection was remarkable. Give it a try – nothing to lose and possibly a nice speed bump with enhanced security to gain.

DigitalOutbox Episode 2

DigitalOutbox Episode 2
In this episode the team discuss Digital Britain, Virgin Media, Windows 7, Project Natal and Steve Jobs all without mentioning the iPhone. Almost.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
– Mobile Phone Privacy – New UK directory of mobile phone users – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/09/mobile_phone_directory/
– http://www.118800.co.uk/
– http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/telecoms/article6459097.ece
– You can become ex-directory by texting the letter ‘E’ to 118800 from the mobile phone that you want to be made ex-directory. Standard network charges apply. Or you can call us on 118 800 or 0800 138 6263 from the phone you want to be made ex-directory. But remember that 0800 calls will be charged by your mobile phone company. The first time 118 800 contacts you please note that you will be sent an SMS reminding you about how to become ex-directory. Please allow 4 weeks for your details to be made ex-directory

– E3 Round-up
– Sony
– PSP Go
– Motion Controller – very accurate, imagine God of War with two of those in your hands
– God of War 3, Uncharted 2, Heavy Rain, Agent (Rockstar exclusive), The Last Guardian, Assassins Creed 2, Mod Nation Racers (LBP for racing?), Final Fantasy 14, Gran Turismo 5 – still no release date!
– Nintendo
– Mario Galaxy 2
– Vitality add-on for Wii
– Metroid from Team Ninja
– Very tired compared to Sony and Microsoft

– Palm Pre
– great reviews, appstore lacking – http://www.engadget.com/2009/06/03/palm-pre-review/
– Some real world issues – http://sanford.blogspot.com/
– No on screen keyboard – want to type in horizontal you need to rotate – clumsy
– Touchstone – slow charging, also gets hot in use
– Based on reviews, a great alternative to iPhone
– Windows 7 – Oct 22
– WWDC
– New Macbook Pro 15″
– Built in battery like 17″
– Typical user – 5 years of use – 1000 charges before degradation
– SD card slot instead of expresscard
– You can get up to 3.06 GHz Dual Core 6MB Level 2 Cache, Up to 8GB of memory, 500GB hard drive. Or 256GB SSD
– Starts at $1699 (2.53 ghz) – $300 less than current starting price
– $2000 to get 9600M GT
– 13″ Macbook and 17″ Pro updated also
– 13″ gets integrated battery and SD slot as well
– New screen also
– FW 800
– $1199, now called Macbook Pro
– OS X
– Attacking Windows 7 – fundamentally it’s just another version of Vista
– Rewritten 90% of Leopard – bug tastic
– Gain 6GB of disk space by installing SL
– Expose built into dock – answer peek features of windows 7
– Safari 4 released today
– Focussing on performance improvements in SL
– Quicktime – major improvements, back end and UI, frameless – looks gorgeous
– All major system apps in SL – 64 bit
– Grand Central Station – better thread management with multiple cores, Open CL – basically faster and more powerful O/S
– Exchange support in SL built into Mail, iCal, Address Book
– Out in September for $29. Wow. Family pack – $49. People will still pirate! Developer preview out today
– iPhone
– 50,00 app’s in the app store, SDK download > million times, more than 40 million iPhones and iPod touches
– OS 3.0
– Major update – 100 new features
– Cut/Copy/Paste
– Landscape keyboard in all key apps
– MSS app
– 29 carriers out of 79 countries will support MMS on launch of 3.0 – O2 logo at the keynote – how much?
– Spotlight search across all app’s, including mail on server, launch apps from spotlight
– iTunes – rent and purchase movies from the phone + tv shows, audiobooks, music videos
– Better parental control
– Tethering with mac or pc, usb or bluetooth, 22 carries in 42 countries, not at&t
– Faster javascript, better media streaming
– Autofill – remember username and passwords for websites (turn on keylock)
– HTML 5.0 support
– Find my iPhone, MobileMe customers only, lose phone, log into browser, tells you where it is, from browser send a message or sound to phone whether it’s in silent or not so if in the home it will sound out until you find it, if it is lost/stolen you can send a remote wipe, find later – plug in and restore from backup
– 1000 new API’s, App Purchase – make financial transactions from within the app, mag subscriptions, same money cut as app’s
– Peer to Peer for games
– Accessories now supported via dock connection
– Push notification
– App’s demo’d – Gameloft – Asphalt 5, Airstrip – Airstrip CC – remote monitoring of patients, Scrollmotion – books and magazines bought from the app, Tom Tom – with optional hardware attachment enhancing GPS – handsfree calling – powers phone – summer, ngmoco – Stardefense – featurepacks – launch today with update for 3.0 around time of 3.0 release, pasco – remote sensor monitoring, zipcar – zipcars available in your area – embedded maps, line6 + planet waves – connect iphone to guitar amp and add effects and control amp
– OS 3.0 – Free, $9.95 for touch, out on June 17th
-iPhone 3GS
– Same form factor
– 2-3 times faster (app loads and web pages)
– Open GL ES 2.0 support, HSDPA (7.2Mbps)
– 3 megapixel auto focus camera
– auto exposure, auto light balance
– tap to focus
– auto macro
– captures video
– 30fps, audio, auto focus
– Videos shown alongside pictures, can edit videos on the phone
– share videos – e-mail, MMS, MobileMe, Youtube
– Voice dialing
– Voice Control
– Digital compass
– Voiceover
– Nike+ support
– Improved battery
– $199, $299 for 32gb
– black and white
– iPhone 3G 8gb – $99
– Out Jun 19th

Picks
– Wired magazine
– Macbites

Episode 1 Feedback

Just a quick post to say thanks for the comments, tweets and e-mails on our first podcast. Lot’s of great feedback and useful advice which we’ll try and incorporate on our next episode which should with a bit of luck will be out over the weekend. One thing we didn’t expect was this:

digitaloutbox-week-1-2

Caught this snap on Sunday (I think) so I’m not sure if we were higher than this at some point. Call us stat whores – we were delighted! Easily pleased even though we’ve no idea how iTunes calculates it’s charts. Hopefully we won’t become obsessive over this though as I fear a fall in the near future if we do.

One thing we will be trying to do is make the podcast a bit shorter, more punchy. One snag – new iPhone this week. Someone gag me now.

So you want an iPhone 3G S

After last weeks iPhone 3G S announcement there has been a lot of heat, not so much around the product itself, but around the costs involved in purchasing one. This is especially true in the UK, where the cost of the handset and the upgrade costs have sparked a lot of controversy.

Firstly, the iPhone 3G S – worth the cost if you’ve already got a 3G? This is a hard one to call. The improvements are:

  • Jump in size from 16GB to 32GB (assuming you buy the 32GB version)
  • Improved camera – 2 to 3 megapixels
  • Camera functions improved – auto white balance, better low light performance, macro
  • Touch to focus
  • Video recording
  • Video editing
  • Digital Compass
  • Voice control
  • Much improved chip speed
  • Double the RAM to 256MB
  • Screen has oleophobic coating

Not exactly ground breaking but for me it’s enough of an upgrade. We see the future of iPhones, much like the iPod range, to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary apart from a platform reboot ever 3-4 years. So assuming you agree and decide an iPhone 3G S is for you, how much will it cost? This is the real burning issue for 3G owners in the UK. For the iPhone 3G launch O2 allowed existing iPhone owners to upgrade to the iPhone 3G for £100. Everyone was happy and most also assumed that this was the model for iPhone’s upgrades in the future. Wrong!

Like every other mobile phone contract in the UK you would need to buy out your existing iPhone 3G contract before you could upgrade to the new 3G S. This announcement, made first on twitter, caused a bit of meltdown with #o2fail jumping into the trending topics on Twitter for a couple of days. Initially disappointed, in the cold light of day it was fairly obvious that this was the same rules for everyone else, so why not the iPhone – a bitter but expensive pill to swallow and if you don’t like it, don’t buy the 3G S. For me though, a purchase is likely so is there a better way to purchase than to buy out existing contract and start on a new fresh 18 month deal?

The spreadsheet above lists out costs assuming you buy off existing contract. Not cheap. Highlighted in blue is what we think is the typical option for most users which assumes that you will get £230 for your current iPhone 16GB 3G. There’s a few places that will buy your iPhone:

  • MazumaMobile.com will buy your phone for £200
  • Carphone Warehouse will buy it for £160
  • eBay – forums quote £300 for your phone but it’s more like £250-£270. Remember those eBay fee’s too

Considering the potential flood of iPhone’s then £230 for a phone in great condition sounds fair. The issue with this method of upgrading is the new 18 month contract. Assuming that Apple will release an upgrade every 12 months, buying in to an 18 month contract will give you this hassle every year. Taking a 24 month contract will force you into upgrading every second generation which might not be too bad a thing if the theory on product evolution is sound. However there is another way which involves going down the Pay As You Go route.

It’s this route that offers the best cost and flexibility in our opinion. The table above assumes a 32GB purchase on Friday. You then swap the contract sim from your current phone to the new 3G S. Take the new sim from the 3G S and use that in your existing phone which you can then sell on for £230-£250. Let the 18 month contract expire then sign up for either a monthly or 12 month Simplicity contract from O2. This takes monthly costs down from £35 to £20 although you do lose visual voicemail and unlimited wi-fi on this tariff. You can also make a further saving by signing up to the Simplicity contract via QuidCo and you should also be able to leave the 18 month contract at least a month early so that’s another saving.

The monthly average via this route is slightly higher than opening a new 18 month contract but the benefit comes next year and the next iPhone. No contract to pay off and a tidy sum to be made on selling on the 3G S. Well, that’s the theory at least. If you don’t upgrade next year then another 12 months on Simplicity will be a significant saving over the iPhone contracts.

Hopefully that helps spell out some options for this coming Friday. All you need to do now is queue up on Friday morning, pre-order from O2 stores or make an appointment at a local Apple store which is the option I’m doing. Alternatively, chortle at the amount of money this is all costing and enjoy OS 3.0 which has just come out. The choice is yours.

Wired UK Magazine

WiredWhen Wired announced it was launching a UK edition of it’s well regarded tech magazine we were a little sceptical at DigitalOutbox. The American edition was becoming precariously thin due to the credit crunch and the decline in print media – why launch a UK edition now, especially as it tried a UK launch around 10 years ago without much success (some articles from the mid 90’s UK magazine)?

We shouldn’t have been worried though as the first three issues of Wired UK have been excellent. Lot’s of up to date content with a definite UK and European bias. One worry though is that they are republishing some older US features. As long as they don’t go to far into the past or add in updates to the features then this shouldn’t be too big an issue. They are also still doing a really good subscription deal – just @2 an issue for 12 months. Bargain.