PowerPage Podcast Episode 158 – Here come the wearables

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 19:24
Category: Podcast

PowerPage Podcast 2012 logoPowerPage Podcast episode 158 (“Here come the wearables”) is now available for your listening pleasure:

In this episode Rob Parker and I discuss the emerging trend of wearable computers and we riff on the two leading devices: the Nike+ FuelBand and the Fitbit Ultra (among others). These are some of the wearables that we discuss on this episode:

  • Nike+ FuelBand ($149) – Wristband for monitoring steps and calories with Bluetooth sync to iOS app and my current favorite. Here’s my review.
  • Fitbit Ultra ($99) – Clip format monitors activity, stairs, and sleep. Has automatic wireless sync if the cradle dock is plugged in via USB.
  • Motorola MOTOACTV ($249) – Wristwatch format with GPS, heart rate monitor, Bluetooth and music controls. Schwing!
  • Jawbone Up ($99) – Wristband format monitors activity and sleep. Rev. 1 didn’t live up to expectations and is getting a reboot.
  • Pebble eWatch ($99) – Connects to iPhone and Android devices via Bluetooth and has an API. This $10 million+ Kickstarter project is completely sold out.
  • Supermechanical Twine ($99) – Web-connected module with temperature and vibration sensors tied to a cloud-based service. Will talk to Pebble eWatch.
  • Google Project Glass – Easily the most ambitious wearable, these glasses provide a full HUD interface to just about everything. Check out the video.
  • MotionX Sleep (free) – Promising iOS app with sleep monitoring.
  • Nike+ GPS ($2) – iOS app to map your runs and track your progress.
  • LoseIt (free) – iOS app that integrates with Fitbit sensor.

Here’s what’s on our Macs this week:

Jason

  • iRig MIX ($99) – Killer portable DJ mixer that travels light (10 oz.) and works with one or two iPhone, iPods or iPads. Stay tuned for my review.
  • TiVo (free) – iOS app that turns your iPad (or iPhone) into mission control for your TiVo.
  • TiVo Premier XL4 ($399) – From Weaknees with four (count ‘em) tuners.

Rob

  • eBay for iPad 2.0 (free) – Amazing reboot of the iPad app, a must-have.
  • Witness ($39) – Turns your Mac’s camera into a security cam. View and control Witness from iOS devices.
  • DirecTV app for iPad (free) – Watch lots of programming (including some live TV) on your iPad. Check listings and program your DVR. (DirecTV required)

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Analyst states that Retina Display units could add up to $92 to price tag

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 14:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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If you want the cool thing, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Per CNET, DisplaySearch Senior Analyst Richard Shim has stated that super-high-resolution 13.3-inch and 15.4-inch screens are already available from LCD suppliers. But a Retina-quality screen for Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro would cost US$160 from suppliers, as opposed to US$68 for current, standard-resolution screens.

Similarly, with a 13.3-inch display, a Retina-caliber screen is US$134, while the LCD panels Apple currently uses are estimated to cost US$69.

If Apple does in fact add Retina displays to its future Macs, as is expected, it’s unknown whether the cost of these high-resolution screens would be passed on to the consumer. Apple upgraded its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad product lineups to Retina displays without increasing the price.

The screens DisplaySearch says are available that would be ideal for Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pros are a 15.4-inch panel with a resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels, or 220 pixels per inch, and a 13.3-inch screen with a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, or 227 pixels per inch. Each would add at least 100 pixels per inch to their respective MacBook Pro models.

Numerous reports have indicated Apple will introduce new, thinner MacBook Pros at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Those new professional notebooks are expected to include Retina display-like screens that will be driven by Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to follow in the footsteps of Apple’s popular MacBook Air lineup by ditching built-in optical drives and adding flash memory for faster performance and greater reliability.

It has also been reported that Apple will update its all-in-one desktop line of iMacs at WWDC when it kicks off June 11. The new iMacs are also expected to have high-resolution Retina displays, but potential screens for the desktop were not highlighted by DisplaySearch.

In addition, DisplaySearch did not specifically identify any potential Retina display LCDs for a 17-inch MacBook Pro. One prediction published in April suggested Apple would discontinue its 17-inch MacBook Pro, leaving only the 13- and 15-inch models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to switch from AMD to Nvidia for next-gen MacBook Pro graphics cards

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 06:43
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Maybe it’s the nature of the industry: you have to be fickle about which graphic cards you go with and change your affections from time to time.

Per 9to5Mac, the web site claims to have discovered evidence that Apple may be planning to switch from AMD GPUs to Nvidia graphics in the new MacBook Pro, expected to launch in June.

A number of reports have emerged confirming the move, quoting ‘trusted sources’ and noting references in the to the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card in OS X beta code. The sources have gone on to claim having located references to the GeForce GT 650M, which, according to Nvidia, offers incredible dedicated graphics performance for gaming and other tasks, all while apparently being battery-life efficient.

The MacBook Pros currently use AMD’s Radeon HD 6770M and Radeon HD 6750M for graphics processing.

There are also reports that Apple will include USB 3.0 in the next MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple ordering parts for at least a 4″ screen on next-gen iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be a nugget of truth in the midst of all of this.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple has begun placing orders for a new, larger screen that will measure at least four inches diagonally, according to a new report.

The report indicated that the next iPhone is “expected” to feature a screen larger than the 3.5-inch display that has been found on the iPhone since it first launched in 2007. Production of the screens is reportedly set to begin in the next few months, and it will measure “at least 4 inches diagonally.”

Apple is said to be working with a number of screen manufacturers for the larger display on the next iPhone, including LG Display, Sharp, and a new company, Japan Display Inc., that was created last month by three Japanese companies and the government. Wednesday’s report made no mention of Samsung as a display partner.

Rumors have suggested for some time that the next iPhone will be a major redesign, overhauling the look of the handset that has remained since the launch of the iPhone 4 in mid-2010. A larger screen would be a major change for the device, and could require developers to update their applications to take advantage of the larger display.

Apple’s rumored shift comes as competitors continue to offer smartphones with larger screens. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy S II, which features a 4.8-inch display, is the new flagship device for the company.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note also features a massive 5.3-inch stylus-driven display that the company has advertised offers both the best of a smartphone and of a tablet. The device was cited by the company in its quarterly earnings in April as a strong seller.

With a 4-inch display, the iOS home screen could theoretically fit another row of icons on the home screen, bringing the total number to six. Applications written for the iPhone 4S and earlier handsets could simply feature black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, using the same aspect ratio and screen space as it would on the earlier devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.