Home Theatre Remote Controls

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Date: Monday, November 20th, 2006, 11:14
Category: Accessory

logitech-harmony-880.jpgI purchased what I thought was the ultimate home entertainment system remote control about a year ago (the Logitech Harmony 880, pictured) for a whopping US$249 and it sucks.
The promise of a programmable remote is that it will control all of my various video components: TV (Dell W5001C), DVR (DirecTV HR10-250 HD TiVo), DVD player (a lame Pioneer DV-525). Sure it sounds great in theory, but in practice it doesn’t work.
I’ve tried numerous times to program the Harmony 880 and it still doesn’t switch the inputs correctly on my TV. I am forced to pull out the TV remote any time I need to switch from DVD to TV. All the programming is done via the Web site (which is drudgery) which then downloads a configuration file that you sync to the remote via USB.
The 880′s form factor is decent because it’s basically a clone of the popular TiVO “peanut” remote but that’s where the the similarity ends. The 880 doesn’t have the peanut’s rubberized buttons, instead the buttons are shiny and slick – and not in a good way. The buttons are slippery and hard to press.
To add insult to injury the 880′s volume up/down and channel up/down buttons are atrociously thin. It’s almost impossible to find them without looking and pressing them requires a delicate touch. And these are the buttons you use the most!
The 880′s range is pretty poor too, forcing me to point it directly at my DVR to work. There’s also a lag from when you press the remote button and when it actually executes the command, which is annoying. And to wrap up a horrendous experience the 880 has to be placed on the charging cradle ever so perfectly or it won’t charge. Sheesh.
Rob Parker likes the Home Theater Master MX-700 remote control (US$349) but I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.
My question to you: what universal remote control do you use with your home entertainment rig? Does it work with the Mac?

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The Apple Core: Fast Web searches via Quicksilver

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Date: Monday, November 20th, 2006, 11:26
Category: The Apple Core

quicksilver_logo.pngIf you’re not already using QuickSilver, stop reading this post right now and download this excellent piece of software. QuickSilver is the quintessential launcher application for Mac OS X and it saves me tons of time.
If I want to launch an application or document I hit the command and space bar keys (which I’ve mapped to QS) then I enter the first few characters of what I’m looking for, select it from the resulting list (if needed), then hit enter to launch it. All without leaving the keyboard.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista 5: Development Challenges

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Date: Monday, November 20th, 2006, 09:00
Category: Opinion

Interesting look at how Apple and Microsoft have followed identical development patterns — so similar they are almost spooky — and how those patterns play out in comparing Leopard and Vista.
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Contributed by: Daniel Eran, RDM

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Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista 4: Naked Sales

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Date: Monday, November 20th, 2006, 08:00
Category: Opinion

Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista follow different strategies in their prerelease marketing, product positioning, and market positioning. Here’s a look at how both differ in product integration.
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Contributed by: Daniel Eran, RDM

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The Apple Core: What iPhone has going for it

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Date: Friday, November 17th, 2006, 09:44
Category: The Apple Core

iphone_037.jpgYesterday I took a shot at the iPhone for being long on compromises and short on utility and your comments were tremendous. Today I want to take a look at some of the positive aspects and potential of the iPhone.
No carrier baggage
One of the single best potential features of the iPhone is that won’t be tied to a specific mobile phone carrier. One of the commenters yesterday said it best:

Even the best and most popular phones on the US market are always a political compromise between makers and carriers. Everyone pulls in their direction; carriers want features that will squeeze more money (sending pictures and videos; text messaging, etc); makers want more and more features, so that they can charge more. Ordinary users are ignored.

Locked phones are heavily subsidized by the carrier so that they can be sold for almost nothing – with a two year contract and significant early termination fee. The best part of a carrier-free (also called “unlocked”) mobile phone is that Apple doesn’t have to cripple its features because the greedy carriers want to charge for every picture, text and ring tone.
A perfect example of this is how Verizon Wireless forces handset manufacturers to disable all but the Bluetooth headset profile. Another example of carrier compromise is the Motorola ROKR’s artificial 100 song limitation and inability to purchase and download tracks from iTunes Over The Air (OTA). Hopefully Apple’s carrier divorce will mean that the iPhone has features that users want, like BT syncing.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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Apple proposes ‘blank’ iPod/phone/MacBook just add buttons

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Date: Friday, November 17th, 2006, 08:52
Category: Uncategorized

picture-6.pngApple has just filed a new patent application for the adding of physical controls (like buttons or sliders etc) to the touch sensitive surfaces of electronic devices. Apple seems to propose that you take a ‘blank’ iPod and add a wheel for a standard iPod, add a keypad to make it a phone – add a joystick to make it a game machine. The overlays are identified by the computer/device and it reacts accordingly. Imagine adding a nice volume control to your iPod. The ‘blank’ iPod can be made into a PDA, cell phone, game machine, handtop or remote control. Add a joystick to your MacBook? How about a mixing desk?

hrmpf.com – » Apple proposes ‘blank’ iPod/phone/MacBook just add buttons

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Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista: A Risk Strategy

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Date: Friday, November 17th, 2006, 00:00
Category: Opinion

PC enthusiasts like to scoff at the market share of Macs in comparison to worldwide computer sales. They view the worldwide PC market like a simple board game of Risk, where market leaders Dell and HP have more armies scattered over more territories, and Apple only has armies places in a few.
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Contributed by: Daniel Eran, RDM

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Digital fragility

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Date: Thursday, November 16th, 2006, 12:00
Category: Opinion

lost-usb-drive.jpgSaw this posted on the gym wall this morning.
Made me wonder how many years of work are sitting on flash memory. The millions of ‘priceless memories’ that exist as JPEGs on digital cameras and mobile phones. Entire music collections on MP3 players.
Most of them won’t be backed-up. Terabytes of data, all of it an absent-minded moment, or a ‘format this drive’ away from oblivion.
I haven’t backed up my laptop for weeks.
I’ll be doing it this evening.
Contributed by: Brett Jordan

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The Apple Core: I don’t want an iPhone

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Date: Thursday, November 16th, 2006, 12:05
Category: The Apple Core

iphone-concept.jpgUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve been inundated with speculation and rumor about Apple’s iPhone. Am I the only one that doesn’t want one?
AppleInsider reports that Foxconn Electronics (a.k.a. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd.) has received an order from Apple for 12M iPhone handsets, that it will ship unlocked, equipped with a 2MP camera and even that iPhone could add 22% to Apple’s earnings for 2007.
My problem is that I don’t really want an iPod/phone hybrid because I’m more of a smartphone guy myself.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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EFI Update Enables Some DOS Tools

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Date: Thursday, November 16th, 2006, 08:00
Category: Software

Apple’s latest EFI updates noted improved support for Boot Camp functionality. This was in the form of updated code to Apple’s Compatibility Support Module (CSM). The CSM virtualizes BIOS functionality and allows “legacy” operating systems such as Windows and Linux to run on Intel-based Macs.
One of the largest criticism’s of Apple’s CSM was its lack of support for DOS-based applications. All other Intel system boards with EFI could run DOS-based applications without problem. Appple EFI/CSM criticism has not been delivered just by users, but also by developers such as Linus Torvalds.
The good news is that CSM support has been updated to include basic DOS support. While DOS does not work fully, some applications such as Maxtor’s PowerMax now do work. These low-level diagnostic tools allow you to check, test, and repair components on your Mac with the low-level capacities of PC-counterparts.
Most of these tools are now commonly offered in .iso format, and can be burned to a CD-R with Disk Utility. However, such support is currently limited. Apple’s CSM does not support a key DOS mode, A20, which is needed for many higher-memory calls. As such, most utilities still will not run. That said, you can now start diagnosing many hard drives with the same level of performance that you used to need to plug the drive into a PC to check.
Contributed by: Christopher Price – www.pcsintel.com

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