Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Consumer

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  • Simon Grigg,

    The appeal of the iPhone seems to me to be to be to people who have no business need for a phone or are not used to higher end devices like Blackberrys or IPaqs. Essentially it's targeted at those who currently run a phone and want a few more pretty features that they are unlikely to use after the first week or so of showing the thing off. And if you are willing to pay the premium for that then you get exactly that.

    It's pretty, well marketed and the must-have gadget of the moment, but it's got a long way to go before it's as useful or functional as either of the above beyond casual private use.

    And they were anticipating selling people phones that would do video calling (a service no one was likely to use)

    One of the things I noted in China a while back was the number of people who use their phones for just that, plus the number of video calling terminals in the subway stations.

    Here in Indonesia where data is pretty cheap, video calling is increasingly common too. You offer it at a doable price, it gets used.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I think my current data plan costs me about $15-16 on top of my regular plan here in the UK, which apparently gets me unlimited (fairuselol). The total cost of the plan is about 70$.

    What has really driven my use of the mobile net is Google's mobile applications. They've turned an average net access experience into something quite useful. Who needs an A-Z when you have Google Maps?

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've ever owned I have given away on replacement, given away to someone who makes good use of it, sometimes for years.

    Me too. They were inadequate for my do-the-latest-thing-now requirements, but they still worked.

    I still kind of regret selling my LC 575 to Chris Bourke, for him to write the Crowded House book on. That was the last good Mac for quite a while. Apple's mid-90s FAIL on quality control was trying even for us fanboys.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @Stephen

    The iPhone is beautiful, and beautifully made. And the applications -- I downloaded NetNewsWire and it's fantastic. And there are dozens -- soon hundreds, then thousands -- more to come. Another gravy train is leaving the station and once again I'm not on board...

    Good review in NBR too, dude.

    Plus, Shazam works! The idea is that you use it to identify some song you hear playing - you start the app, hold it up to the radio, and it gets back to you 30 seconds later with the track information.

    Leo and I tried four songs. Shazam got Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip and the Clash's 'Guns of Brixton', but missed an obscure Amy Winehouse remix. That's pretty cool.

    And I'm so not a mobile device guy, but the new iPhone is a great piece of engineering.

    Yes, I find the lack of MMS bewildering, but Safari on the iPhone is way ahead of any other mobile web browser I've seen.

    I did try a Blackberry. I hated the fucking thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Alst,

    Almost rudely off topic (I have ranted too long on geekzone about the iPhone plans)

    Someone explain this,

    Why would Apple decide to add the positively obscure censors rating of RP16 to the parental controls drop down for (as yet unattainable) New Zealand movies between itunes 7.6 and 7.7?

    Why, why, why i wonder?

    My prediction - iTunes movies in NZ before summer.

    (although, why, why, why has New Zealand been even in that drop down for a number of dot upgrades of iTunes?....

    another of life's little conundrums.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    The appeal of the iPhone seems to me to be to be to people who have no business need for a phone or are not used to higher end devices like Blackberrys or IPaqs.

    I'm going to disagree, almost everyone i know who has an iphone used to own a blackberry/n95 or some other device that stored their entire life on it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Oh dear, one Trojan, not yet confirmed in the wild which requires a certified clueless idiot to install it and you posit that in place of a virus?

    Last Mac virus I saw was NVir on an old G3 box running OS9. Only possible symptom was it ran a bit slow. We only found out because of a contaminated zip disc put into my G4 tower running that very old public domain virus scanner widget. The machine was riddled with NVir, yet it still ran just fine. Mac viruses, Wooo! Wooo! the bogeyman will get you! the bogeyman will get you! Yawn.

    Still if it serves as a comfort blanket for you.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Robeson,

    Media 7-

    Rally around Clive!

    I say. This man should be leading the Green party. Holding articles from Brian Fallow and Rod Oram in his hands. Or doing some serious campaigning with them.

    as someone who has used public transport, and lived with people who have made a conscious choice to commute on public transport or live closer to work for 8-9 years I think the man has a point.

    The 'good life' solution is a bit of a fraud.

    I remember when I felt New Zealand had a strong environmental consciousness, with the successful action against cfcs and environmentalism's association with Greenpeace and the Rainbow Warrior.

    The 'oh I stopped listening' approach is not good enough, (you rude woman). Use your car for recreation, and your legs or public transport to commute. Support real investment in practical mass transit (not knocking down houses to build wider roads like near the Mt Eden Foodtown).

    Many Australians are actually quite good on both the mass transit and the green bags.

    But as George Monbiot I think it was (paraphrasing) was saying without the top down approach it is a bit bollocks. We can't be going out and look to test market a proper train system. We need one ASAP with serious investment. With constant planning as to how to make it more comfortable, useful and hassle free.

    Interest rates and inflation are complicated things. People listen when you talk about them because it directly impacts on their lives. This is no different.

    Since Feb 2008 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I did try a Blackberry. I hated the fucking thing

    Same. Sucked like a hoover. Had to enter a 9 character password every time it had been keylocked, or idle over 5 minutes. I noticed on El Reg a bunch of sysadmin idiots talking about how this had to be so, coz it's vitally important that morning tea invites and the like are kept secret by military grade encryption. Really.

    Thinking about it, Internet radio is *my* killer app for mobile Internet. If I can buy a device that can stream me George or bFM anywhere in the world at reasonable cost, then I'm in. Bonus if I can hit a key and download the tune I'm hearing (in 24-bit uncompressed FLAC glory, natch).

    Oh, and summon a taxi anywhere in the world at the click of a switch.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Sitting next to the G5 iMac I am typing this on is a Centris 650. It has had one new screen and the addition of a CD drive, the Enet is dead necessitating a bridge, but it still works. Used for games and it is the only machine that will print the wife's stamp collection pages with smooth graphics on the laserwriter.

    Mind you the iMac is a replacement for a RevB iMac that is now a brick in the attic since the power supply and the motherboard were toast after a power cut (plugged into a surge board).

    There are numerous iPods in the family, all still working.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Apple has never been strong on the number of features per se, rather being strong on implementing the right features properly, especially with respect to the UI.

    That Apple does something in their UI a particular way doesn't make it the "right" way. The whole maximise/minimise/close group being top-left, instead of top-right like every other system I've used, still gets me after 18 months of using a Mac for my job. They have consistency, yes, but consistency is not the same as being "right". That said, all the stuff I've read on UI design stresses the importance of consistency throughout a system, pretty much to the point that nothing else matters if you don't have it. So in that respect they do, I'll admit, have it "right".

    Other than that, it's. A. Phone! Its primary purpose is making and receiving calls, and sending and receiving short messages. On any other phone, that'd include MMS. Even if I accept that Apple's all about implementing a few features well, which I'm prepared to concede for these purposes, a modern phone, especially one that's supposedly a multimedia device, isn't even vaguely close to complete without MMS. You haven't implemented the basic functionality properly without MMS, and I notice that it's an omission that gets regular comments from reviewers. None of them favourable.
    The camera's not done properly either. It's the same as in the 1st Gen, and it wasn't exactly great then. It doesn't do video. It has no flash. It can't be rotated. That's the key gripes I've seen against the camera in the last 24-ish hours since the phone was released. Nobody thinks it's good enough. Adequate, sure, but it's not implemented "properly" by modern standards.

    To accept that Apple has produced a great phone, despite the glaring inadequacies and omissions, is to accept that Apple can ignore the basic functionality offered by any other device that is price-competitive and still have a "great" phone. Which gets me back to the Cult of the iJobs. If Nokia or LG or Samsung came out with a phone at that level of the market that had a camera that sucked when it was first introduced in a previous model, and that didn't do MMS, they'd be laughed at. They'd be told to take it back and design it again. Properly. But Apple can get away with it, because they're Apple. iBaaaaaaaaa.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Quite why you would want to be a big enough idiot to rush out and spend three days camping out in winter so you can spend a small fortune on a 3G product that has crap storage, an out-of-date camera and you'll only be able to afford to use 2G services on is quite beyond me. In this country, you'd be better off buying a decent music player, a good entry-level camera and a $99 mobile.

    As for the environment, I would have thought that the mutinous reaction of the electorate and truckers to but the first zephyr of global, multi-industry simultaneous change should have taught us that if our technological society can’t find a series of technological solutions (carbon sequestration, orbital mining, a genetic engineered second green revolution, mass produced biofuels) for us and our (soon to be) ten billion fellow humans then a Malthusian Mad Max is a more likely future than a green and pleasant Hobbiton. To that end, Green “solutions” like leafy carbon sinks are as much hogwash as the snobbish Tolkienesque “deep England” ideology that underlies a lot of the Green’s wishful thinking.

    You know, in the time it has taken USA to spend up to a trillion dollars in Iraq (2001-2007), they’ve spent just 105 or so billion dollars on NASA. That is a lot less than the US Air Force Space Command has spent on weaponising space over the same time. The total Iraq fiasco will end up costing around three trillion they say. I read somewhere Barak Obama promises to spend 150 billion on new green R&D initiatives. Three trillion is TWENTY TIMES that amount. You weep at the wasted opportunities.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Mac viruses, Wooo! Wooo! the bogeyman will get you! the bogeyman will get you! Yawn.

    Still if it serves as a comfort blanket for you.

    Nice, rational argument there Peter. I didn't say there were here now, I said they'll happen. When the Mac had a small-and-vanishing market share in the days pre-internet, viruses and other nasties for it simply weren't a problem. Nobody denies that. But to deny that it'll ever be a problem means that when the Russian mafia or whoever actually sets their formidable assets on the task it'll be a total slam-dunk because all the Mac admins will be so far in denial.

    Nothing's immune to a dedicated examination of its flaws. Mac OS X has plenty of holes allowing remote privilege escalation, which is all it takes for a virus to do its thang. Throw some criminal money and minds at it, and bad things happen

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Oh and at a recent conference I attended, one of the speakers mentioned that while 20% of people (and 95% of PA readers it would seem) would willingly take to public transport, 80% would not give up their car until someone prised their cold, dead fingers from the steering wheel. This 80% would happily buy a smaller car or (not so happily one suspects) go electric, but fundamentally they want to keep their car.

    And why not. People love their cars.

    A lot of public transport champions find that a concept a real cognitive challenge, but it seems to me that if we want to come up with sensible transport solutions then we should start listening to what people want rather than lecture them on the virtues of light rail. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we spent our hundreds of millions developing and deploying an electric vehicle infrastructure built on the existing roading infrastructure then for commuters the outcomes might be quicker to achieve, and better for everyone.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Nothing's immune to a dedicated examination of its flaws. Mac OS X has plenty of holes allowing remote privilege escalation, which is all it takes for a virus to do its thang. Throw some criminal money and minds at it, and bad things happen

    Apple is based on an open source unix system. No system is ever secure, but Apple's base system is out in the open, and is worked on by thousands of people with access to the base code, but outside the organisation. It releases updates to fix problems when they are found by the 'good guys'. Windows is as likely to release updates to counter the rapidly approaching bad guys.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Perhaps, just perhaps, if we spent our hundreds of millions developing and deploying an electric vehicle infrastructure built on the existing roading infrastructure then for commuters the outcomes might be quicker to achieve, and better for everyone.

    I think the point the chap was heading towards on Media 7 was that, in lots of places in the world fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity. A worldwide movement to electric cars would mean we wouldn't require oil to burn in our cars, but it would require a lot more oil to burn in our generators to cover the increased demand for electricity.

    If there were countries which could meet all their electricity needs from sustainable sources, and still have more potential energy production, then it wouldn't be such a problem, but I don't think there are many countries that fit that description.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The Windows vs. MAC debate might had have some relevance when 8mb was a lot of memory and computers were arcane machines that geeks made do stuff, but nowadays when computers are an everyday tool I find it as tedious as the contrived Holden vs. Ford arguments I hear.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Kyle: thats why I think the answer must lie in new carbon sequestration technology. Our society is built on technology, and our culture is predicated on technology finding solutions to the problems we get ourselves into.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Other than that, it's. A. Phone! Its primary purpose is making and receiving calls, and sending and receiving short messages. On any other phone, that'd include MMS.

    Yep, indeed and for most folks that is all it will be..a very pricey one at that.

    When I can edit a PDF or an excel spreadsheet or a word document, take a reasonable shot of an item I'm trying to sell someone and then email it to them, cut and paste anything or a dozen other pretty basic things I can do on a Blackberry or a bunch of other Smartphones can do easily then it's a business device. Until then this sums it up quite well.

    But it will be accessory de rigour in Ponsonby for a while I guess.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    There are no excuses for not having a good camera in the 2nd gen iPhone. If half a dozen other manufacturers have managed to get 3.5-5MP cameras with very satisfactory still or video image output for at least the last 12-24 months Apple should be able to as well.

    I think most people could actually throw away their digital cameras and replace them with cell phone cameras if they wanted to, given the quality and quantity of good models on the market now.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Simon - I'm not sure whether you saw the NZ coverage of the iPhone quue here but it seemed to me les a Ponsonby fashion fest than it was a collectors convention...

    And by the bye, on Apple viruses: every week, among those I receive on Windows-based systems, Apple and other *nix vulnerablities arrive. And have done for years now. Like all the systems, some will never get to affect you (and praise be for that) but they are certainly out there.

    An Apple isn't an alternative to anti-virus and anti-spam apps or *very* wary browsing habits.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I I may digress for a moment......... I'm a relative newcomer to macs. Only been using them, and then only at work, for about 6 years, and I never really liked them. But I have to say that on getting a Macbook laptop for work (leased from the nice people at RED) I am converted. For a teacher - and especially in ECE where one takes a lot of photos to be used in our assessments - iphoto is the best. And Comic Life. I love my laptop so much it comes home with me in the hols, and in the last week I haven't used my PC at all. OTOH, I don't own an ipod or anything like it, and I would like to know which would be the best one to have, really. An mpeg player would be best since most of my extensive music collection is on my PC drive, specifically on my WMP. Help, please?

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    I don't own an ipod or anything like it, and I would like to know which would be the best one to have

    have you tried your friend's ipods/mp3 players, to see what you like? the only thing i'd recommend is if you're going running with it, make sure it doesn't have a hard drive (the new ipod touches are ok, as they have flash drives)

    i have a creative zen vision m, which i really like - its like an ipod with a few extra features, like fm radio, plug-and-play hard drive mode and general windows friendliness. but it's kinda out of date these days.

    this might help you:
    http://reviews.cnet.com/mp3-player-buying-guide/

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    oh and just to add to your confusion, a lot of phones these days can be used as mp3 players

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Regarding O2 in the UK and their "unlimited" data plan for iphones

    Included Unlimited Wi-Fi and Web Bolt Ons for iPhone Customers only
    The Unlimited Wi-Fi and Web Bolt On is included at no extra cost for customers connecting or upgrading to any iPhone tariff until further notice. O2 reserves the right to withdraw or amend this offer at any time on reasonable notice. Participating customers will receive 30 days notice via text message if changes are made to their disadvantage. Excessive usage policy applies see Data Bolt Ons terms below.

    It waffles a bit , but excessive usage seems to be 3GB a month

    Considering they have a potential maket of 60 million for a similar size country to NZ, where an expensive regional network is built for 0.5 million people the prices dont seem to bad.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

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