Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Like being there

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  • nzlemming, in reply to HORansome,

    Now, I don't know what the user experience on Android tablets is in this regard, but I was impressed (moreso) with how easily it just worked on the iPad. Does anyone know about how such things with respect to other portable devices?

    I haven't tried any accessibility tools yet, though it is in the plan this year.

    Android on a tablet is still very much an infant. Basically, it's a phone with a bigger screen. And no phone capability.

    I got a Zenithink out of China last year. It's heavier than an iPad (just) but pretty good for Angry Birds (fuck, that is a timewaster!) and reading documents, which was the main reason I got it. Also excellent for playing games. Does WiFi, doesn't do bluetooth, does have a full sized USB port on the side, has crap speakers, gets warm if used while charging (O_o), pretty good with browsers. A few downloads won't go on it, but plenty won't go on my phone either (Voda845). Both still running Android 2.1 which is sufficient for me at the moment. These were nice cheap ways to get into the game - I never expected either to be magic, but it's surprising how much I do enjoy using them. (I got my wife a Hai Pad ;-) she loves it. Watches TV on the train into Welly)

    To be fair, the iPad is an overgrown phone as well, as iOS was built for the iPhone, but it's undergoing its adolescence a bit more gracefully. Look for iOS to become much more important for Apple - not for technical reasons but because they have more of a lock on it.

    OSX is essentially a Unix variant which is cool when I want to be adventurous and compile some source code to see if it will work (often, yes, but crashes at some point because of the Mysteries of Cupertino, also known as Quartz graphics). It also means it's relatively open for development. A lot of the base code can be found in the Darwin Project (and vice versa) and so Apple don't get to control it quite as tightly as they can iOS. Whenever they feel it slipping away, they release a new cat (I mean, Lion? Come on, Steve, I've still got an eMac in the corner running Tiger quite happily) and do stupid things like buggering up Java locations so that OpenOffice breaks again.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm an Apple fan (though not a fanboi) - my main machine is a 24" Intel iMac and I have the eMac for voice recording in a different room and an old PPC Mini as well that is destined to be a media server when I get my shit together- but their stuff works as well as it does because they have less variation in hardware to have to deal with.

    I didn't get an iPhone because I refuse to pay that much for a phone, which I know is going to be at risk in my pocket, and I didn't get an iPad for the same reason. I think the tablet has legs, but I'm wary about any walled garden approach.

    I also have 2 Win7 laptops, 2 XP laptops, an EEEPC running Xandros (makes a surprisingly good webserver for the house intranet) and at least one variant of Ubuntu running on whichever tower is working at the moment - we're a broad church, and I use whatever is the right tool for the moment in time and the task at hand. I just wrote a script for a play on the Win7 lappy, using Celtx, because it was warmer upstairs this week than downstairs, but I have the same software on the Macs downstairs and, where possible, I tend to open source apps that are cross-platform precisely so I can be as agnostic as possible about hardware and OS. Platforms really aren't important - it's the apps that define what you do, and your needs at any given time.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • kiwicmc, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Plex is nice, playing around with it on my MacBook Pro I got a Movie playing out to the MacBook and a TV show playing to the iPad. No jitter at all.

    The Plex iPad remote app is OK, but a little clunky - no coverflow!

    All I want now is a Mac Mini with Thunderbolt to a NAS and faster processors for ripping DVD and BluRays. And oh yeah, getting a better tele.

    Coincidentally, just last night I was at a friends place in the US who has a new Samsung 65" monster. We browsed YouTube straight on the TV and played back the AirNZ safety videos. Quality was quite exceptional.

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2008 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    OTOH, I’ve tried other media servers – Vuze and the open-source PS3 one – and they weren’t great enough over WiFi to beat walking around with a flash drive.

    But … the Cat 6 cabling that was supposed to be done in December with the rest of the house was finally finished last week. I think I need someone to tell me what to do now.

    Broadly speaking (and bear in mind I don't own an Apple TV and could be talking out my arse) there are currently four options for an AppleTV:

    1. Don't JB it. Convert everything and load it into iTunes. Take the blue pill and be happy.
    2. Don't JB it. Use air-video (which now has an airplay button on it's beta), find your media by browsing for it on an iOS device (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad) and hit the magic button to send it to your AppleTV.
    2. JB it. Install XBMC (or something similar) that attempts to add codec support to the AppleTV and play away.
    3. JB it. Install the Plex media player front end on the AppleTV and the server on a mac computer. Play away.

    Jailbreaking is a pit of a pain, with every new release there is a wait until the updated JB is released. In the case of XBMC, the iOS update broke their H264 hardware decoding as they were using private APIs.

    If you already use AirVideo (I do, excellent product) then that might be the easiest way to go in the short term until things settle down.

    Considering you have a wired connection the Plex app and media server might be the best bet in the long term. Requires an always on mac server, or on when you need to use it, then it is ok. If you have a laptop that disappears from the house then that is a no go.

    It is miraculous that they've managed to get XBMC to do what it does on the AppleTV, but the hardware is a little limited which potentially means being quite careful with encoding parameters etc to make sure it works. But what do I know.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

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