Archive for Apple

Apple Working to Eliminate Dirty Glass Backs on iPhones

No one really enjoys cleaning windows. Glass windows that is. And for iPhone users, the fact that the front and back of their phone is just glass has become a problem for many.
Most people are used to buffing the front screen for a quick clean, but they look at the back of the phone so infrequently that by the time they do they find a lot of filth, dirt, and often pocket lint wedged in around the edges or even under the glass back. Particularly annoying to users with white phones as the dirt stands out so much to those around them who only get to see the back of the phone.
In the worst cases large pieces of debris or large accumulations have resulted in unsightly cracks that only get worse over time when the cracks allow in even more debris.
I read today on Gdgt that Apple is coming to the rescue, but their research and development will likely only aid future iPhones, not current ones.
This problem is apparent with other apple products, past and present, such as the Mac G4 Cube in 2000, the iPhone 3G and the MacBook laptop. All of these products were plagued by consumer complaints of hairline cracks.
(I wonder if the high cost of Apple products can be attributed to the costs incurred by Apple in fixing problems discovered after product launch? Your phone may not have cracked but you pay extra so that Apple can afford to repair OPP or “other peoples phones. After all, such costs would constitute overhead from one or more viewpoints.)
As I was saying, Gdgt says word has it that Apple engineers are looking into this problem by experimenting with various third party cases for iPhones to see what can be done about the invading debris and cracking glass issues on future iPhones.
(Posted from my 3G Slide Droid phone.)

Get a Kickstand for your iPad

Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPad

I don’t have an iPad, but I do have an old e-book reader, the eBookwise 1150 — which I’d like to replace sometime soon — which I use quite a bit when I’m eating alone or snacking. I like to do a little reading while I eat, and I’m often trying to find some combination of items I can use to prop it up at an angle so I can read comfortable. Oftentimes this results in me leaning it up against the napkin holder, while placing a small book or something else at the base to prevent it from sliding.

Maybe you’ve found yourself doing the same thing with your iPad?

Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPadWell, I was looking at the iPads and the iPad accessories over at MacMall.com, and I saw a couple of products that would work nicely for iPad owners.

One such product is the Kickstand Nylon Case by Incipio. It comes in three different colors: Light Gray (shown),  Black, and Khaki/Tan. It’s constructed from rip-stop nylon with a microsuede lining on the inside to protect your investme—, er, iPad from scuffs and scratches. It acts as a book cover, as you can see, but it also has a kickstand design that allows you to prop it up for reading or video watching. (You forgot you can watch videos on it, didn’t you?)

Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPad Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPad

As it is a book cover, it also comes with a magnetic latch to keep it closed when not in use. And, lest I forget, they cost only $22.99 each. Get one now and protect that iPad.

New iPad Accessories Arrivals

New iPod Nano Shoots Video and plays FM Radio

I thought this was pretty amazing, but the new iPod Nano (5th Generation) has a video camera in it. Yep, the new nano shoots video. Now, if you’ve seen the Nano, you know that it’s just a little bit bigger than a lighter. Imagine a video camera the size of a lighter.

That’s kind of amazing. Right?

And as you can see, it’s available at MacMall.com, the Apple Superstore.

Shameless plugs aside, let’s look take a closer look at the iPod nano.

The back of the new iPod Nano has a camera lens, and next to the camera lens there’s a pinhole. A pinhole microphone, that is. So you can shoot video with sound, too.

Three years ago, I bought a 2nd Generation iPod Nano, and I still use it to this day. Back then, $199 got you 8 GB of storage space for holding about 2,000 songs. The 2nd Gen iPod Nano didn’t play video. That was a bit of downer for me at the time, but I’ve lived with it.

nano-videoHere we are 3 years later and the Nano hasn’t gotten any bigger, and now it plays video, and it records video.

What’s more than that? It plays FM radio now with a built-in FM tuner, and you can even pause the radio while you’re listening to a station. Think of it as Tivo for radio in an iPod. Apple calls this Live Pause. The radio is recorded onto the iPod, so you can pause a song while you listen. While the song is paused the station is recorded to the Nano’s flash drive.

nano-radioNow my 3 year old iPod Nano only held 2,000 or 8 GB worth of music (no video) and it set me back $200, but now for just $179 you can get 16 GB of storage for 4,000 songs or 16 HOURS of video.

Now, that is amazing. I’m sold.

Head over to MacMall.com, the Apple Superstore, and get your iPod Nano, now. There’s an 8GB model for $149 and the 16GB model for $179. You can also get a Free Altec lansing Portable iPod/iPhone speaker (a $39 value) with it. There’s also an option to get free engraving and a free charger. You pay for the engraving and charger now, but you get your money back from a rebate later.

Factory Refurbished iPods for Sale

Buy.com has some nice prices today for some factory reconditioned and refurbished iPods. These are items that were purchased, but the buyer either changed their mind, or found a few items missing, or brought it back to exchenge for something else. In some cases these were returned gifts. Regardless, they were check and repackaged by the Apple factory for resale.

Check them out, there are some nice savings to be had here. And please use the links here, so Buy.com know Skylarking sent you. And let me remind you, I don’t mention any items or offers that I don’t personally and professionally consider to be worthwhile. This is not a paid promotion.

Apple iPod 60GB Generation 5 Refurbished

apple-ipod-60-refurb60 GB hard drive memory; Holds up to 15,000 songs and full-color album art; Bright 2.5-inch, 320 x 240 pixel TFT display; Up to 20 hours of battery life; Holds up to 25,000 photos; Holds up to 150 hours of video; Enjoy Podcasts and audio books; Apple click wheel; Accessory-compatible dock connector; Charges and syncs via USB; Syncs contacts, calendars and to-do lists; Shuffle songs or albums; Repeat one or all; Adjust audio book reading speed; Sound check on or off; 20 equalizer presets; Backlight timer; Display contrast; Alarms on, off or silent; Sleep timer; Date and time; Display time in menu bar; Contacts sort and display by first or last names; Clicker on or off; Unit dimensions: 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.55-inches; Includes USB cable and Headphones. This item listed for $399.95 when it was new. It’s yours for only $120. Bono not included.

Apple iPod 5th Generation 30GB Refurbished

apple-ipod-30-refurbThis item is factory reconditioned with a 90 day distributor warranty.2.5″ LCD; 30GB Hard Drive; Video: MPEG-4, QuickTime; Dock Connector; Composite Video Output; Mini-phone Stereo Audio Line Out; Holds up to 7,500 Songs; Holds up to 25,000 iPod-viewable photos; Video Player; Holds over 1,000 Videos based on 4 minutes; Audio Player; Audio Formats: AIFF, WAV, AAC, MP3; Includes Ear bud headphones, USB cable, and iTunes software for Mac and Windows; Charging via USB or FireWire to computer system or power adapter; 4.1″ H x 2.4″ W x 0.43″ D; Image Formats: BMP, JPEG, PSD (Mac only), PNG, TIFF, GIF; Weight: 4.8 oz;Customizable main menu; Create multiple On-the-Go playlists; Adjust audiobook playback speed; Clicker playback through headphones; Rate songs; Shuffle songs or albums; Repeat one or all; Sound Check on or off; 20 Equalizer settings; Backlight timer; Alarms on, off or silent; Sleep timer; Date and time; Display time in menu bar; Contacts sort and display by first or last names; Clicker on or off.

I almost overdid it on this post by including language support and charge times, but you can find all that out at Buy.com’s site if interested.

Beat Generation Podblaster – Portable Speakers for your iPod

podblasterTake out the earphones and let everyone listen to your iPod. It’s a lot easier to do with this ultra-light podblaster. This is the all vinyl PodBlaster iPod Stereo Travel Case from LifePod. It comes with a Storage pocket with room for your power charger and cables, firewire connector, FM transmitter and everything you need while traveling. The 3-watt amplifier is powered by four AA batteries (not included) or a USB connector (included!) The speakers are fully integrated, the clear window in the fron t flips open so you can control your iPod. Plus its has a compact and ultraportable design and construction.

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Weekend Deals from Buy.com

Here are some deals from Buy.com. I’ve done quite a bit of shopping on Buy.com. I bought a bunch of HP photo printers for the family there last year, and I regularly check in for deals on DVDs, too. Here are a few deals that were brought to my attention recently. These offers are vaild until Monday, June 29.

6-26-2009 1-56-15 AMPhilips amBX Surround Sound Speaker system with Hawk PC game. This is a surround sound system which is ideal for computer gaming systems. Immerse yourself in the game. Regularly this system’s list price is $230, but Buy.com is offering it for only $80 this weekend. I wonder what iTunes would sound like on this system? Or perhaps one of my Netflix downloads?

6-26-2009 2-27-38 AMViewSonic 22″(21.5 Viewable) Widescreen LCD Monitor. This is a full high definition 1080p monitor with a high contrast 18,000 to 1 contrast ratio for crisp images. It also has a DVI connection. This monitor lists for $295, but Buy.com is offering it this weekend for $170.

6-26-2009 2-35-37 AM30 GB Apple iPod. This is an Apple factory reconditioned iPod. These iPods, generally, were purchased by people who changed their mind and returned the unit, or they found it was missing an accessory, so they exchanged it for another. These items have been repackaged for sale at the factory. New these iPods listed for $399. Normally Nuy.com sells these reconditioned units for $150, but this weekend they are offering a $50 instant rebate and free budget shipping. Your cost after rebate: $100.

iTunes and the LG Chocolate

Here’s a question I received recently:

“I have an LG Chocolate from Verizon, and I want to copy my iTunes music to the phone. How can I do this?”

Assuming you’re interested in transferring music purchased in the iTunes store, then it’s not going to be easy because the LG Chocolate won’t play iTunes music files purchased in the iTunes store. Music files downloaded on iTunes are in an “MPEG4 Protected” (m4p) format. Some are in a m4a format. Neither will play on the LG Chocolate because it only supports MP3 and WMA file formats.

BUT,

If you copy your own CDs into iTunes using the MP3 format, then you’ll be able to transfer them to your LG Chocolate.

BUT,

By default, iTunes imports CDs using the AAC format, so you will have to tell iTunes to use the MP3 format instead. Here’s how to do that:

1. In iTunes, click “Edit” >> “Preferences”
2. Click the “General” tab
3. Click the “Import Settings” button
4. Change “Import Using” to “MP3 Encoder”
5. Optional: Change “Setting” to “Good Quality” for smaller file sizes
6. Click OK >> OK

Here’s a neat trick:

Once you’ve told iTunes to import your CDs using the MP3 format, then you could use iTunes to burn your store-bought files to a CD, and then import that CD into iTunes using the MP3 format. So if you’ve got the patience to burn a CD and then import that CD, go for it. (Be aware you’ll have two copies of the song now, one in the iTunes format, and one in the MP3 format.)

Transferring MP3s or WMA files to the LG Chocolate

autoplayThere are several ways to get the MP3 files onto your LG Chocolate, here are three different ways that come to mind:

  1. If you are using a Windows computer and an USB cable to connect the phone to your computer, then you could use Windows Media Player to find the MP3 files on your computer, and synchronize them to your phone.
  2. The same could be done if you remove the micro SD card from the phone and insert it into a micro SD card reader on your computer. Again, Windows Media Player could synchronize files on the card.
  3. Instead of synchronizing using Windows Media Player, you could connect the phone with a USB cable OR insert the micro SD card into a card reader, and then drag and drop your MP3s from the music folder on your computer into the SD card. This method will also work on a Mac. (By the way, this is my preferred method.)

It is my understanding the LG Chocolate has a music folder on it labeled “my_music”. If so, then this is where you should put your MP3s. If you’re using Windows then once you attach the phone or the SD card, you should be presented with an “AutoPlay” window (shown above right from a Windows Vista computer). The AutoPlay window provides you with an option to “Open folder to view files” (circled in red here). Click that option and a window will open showing the contents of the card or phone.

BitPim

BitPim screenshot

BitPim screenshot

I’ve also read about a program available for Mac, Windows, and Linux called BitPim which is downloadable at www.bitpim.org. This program allows you to view and manipulate files of all kinds on your phone when connecting it to your computer via a USB cable. This is available for free download, and the software is designed by volunteers, but I seen many other sites making reference to this program. As volunteers they’ve also provided a list of phones that they’ve used with the software.




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Connect a MacBook Air to an Optoma PK 101 pico projector

Optoma PK101

Optoma PK101

Back in mid-December of 2008, I reviewed two new micro, or pico, projectors: The Dell M109S and the Optoma PK 101. The Dell model was designed to connect to a wide range of devices with its multi-cable adapter, but the Optoma PK 101 (the sexier of the two devices) was designed, primarily, to connect to devices with composite video connections, though it came bundled with an adapter for iPods and iPhones.

My Optoma PK 101 review mentioned that “The Optoma PK101 isn’t configured for connecting to a laptop or computer. unless the computer itself as a special video output.”

A few days ago, Mark Canavan, a Skylarking reader, wrote in asking, “How can I connect the Optoma PK101 to a MacBook Air laptop?”

Here’s your answer, Mark. I’ve also added this information to the end of my original review of the Optoma PK 101 projector.

Apple Micro-DVI to Video Adapter

The Optoma PK 101 is designed to connect to devices that have composite video connections. The MacBook Air has a mini display port that can be used as follows. If you’re averse to tech-talk, just ignore the stuff in the parentheses:

This is according to the MacBook Air’s Technical Specifications web page.

According to a MacBook Air Developer Note from Jan. 18, 2008:

The MacBook Air ships with a micro-DVI to DVI adapter and a micro-DVI to VGA adapter. A micro-DVI to video adapter, which provides composite and S-video support, is sold separately.

The Apple Micro-DVI to Video Adapter (shown above right) is available from the Apple Store in the US and Canada for $19. Apple says, “The Micro-DVI to Video Adapter was designed specifically to fit the slim profile of MacBook Air. The adapter connects to the Micro-DVI port on your MacBook Air and provides both S-video and Composite video connectors so that you can view content from your computer on such devices as TVs, VCRs, or overhead projectors with S-Video or RCA (Composite) connectors.”

Thanks for your question, Mark!




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More Info for Connecting an iPod to a home stereo


Back on Sept. 16, 2008, I wrote an article regarding connecting your PC or iPod to a home stereo. A reader, LD, asked about the pros and cons of using a stereo y-connector with the iPod’s headphone jack, which I offered as a relatively low cost solution in my earlier post, versus connecting with a y-connector or kit with Apple’s Universal Dock. You can read his full comments and questions with the original post here.

Here’s my take on the headphone jack versus the universal dock approach:

Apple Universal Dock - Apple Store (U.S.)

Docking Port
I’ll assume the docking port in question is the
Apple Universal Dock from the Apple Store (U.S.)
($49). One advantage is it looks cleaner/neater sitting next to your stereo instead of a loose headphone cable, and it comes with a remote control. If you add a USB power adapter ($29) you could also charge the iPod, but the same holds true without the docking port. If you choose to use the universal dock, your standard 1/8″ stereo y-connector ($7.49) can be used.

Cable and Monster Cable

Belkin Y Adapter Cable - Apple Store (U.S.)

I find the headphone cable and jack suitable, and I consider myself to be something of an audiophile when it comes to stereo equipment, but care must be exercised with the volume control. The rule of thumb with stereo equipment is to always have the volume turned down before turning on any equipment. Taking care to do so has always worked fine for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Belkin and Monster Cable, but I’ll pass on them if I’m trying to hold onto my cash that day or week. Currently, I use an ordinary stereo y-connector from Radio Shack, and I have had no problems with it. I play my iPod on the stereo a few times a month, and just leave the cable in plain view.  No one else in the household has complained yet, and most of them are much neater and more organized than I.

To clarify, the standard stereo y-connector will connect to the universal dock, but get the Monster Cable if its in your budget. Their cable is of a higher gauge, and does make a audible difference if you have an ear for it.

Feedback and Amplification
It’s true that the iPod output level with just the headphone jack is affected by the iPod’s own volume control. You should always start with the volume on the stereo and iPod turned down. Then turn up the stereo volume to a level you usually find suitable — you won’t hear anything until you turn up the iPod’s volume — and then set the iPod to play and turn up it’s volume control. Resist the urge to make it “extra loud” by turning it up too high.

Though I don’t have a docking port now, it has been my experience that any device that utilizes the iPod’s connector, instead of the jack, disables the volume control of the iPod wheel. Using the iPod wheel will have no affect on volume.

Another note: Care should be taken when the stereo is on, but an iPod isn’t connected to the jack (without the dock). If your stereo gets set to that input, and if something charged or metallic comes in contact with the end of the jack — think kid’s fingertips or some stray metal object like a set of keys set to rest on the shelf — then harmful feedback could occur. My headphone jack is set well out of reach, so I’m likely to be the only offender.

Thanks for your questions and comments, LD. I’m glad I could be of help.



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17 inch MacBook Pro shipping late January

`17 inch MacBook pro

`17 inch MacBook pro

At last week’s MacWorld Expo, Apple announced they would be shipping a new 17-inch MacBook Pro laptop near the end of January. Rumors had been circulating prior to the announcement that Apple would be announcing a quad core processor laptop, but this was not it. The new MacBook Pro is built around a “unibody chassis”, that is, it is carved from a single block of aluminum. Pricing will start around $2,800.

Battery Life

Apple Online Store

The big news was its battery life. Apple states its battery is rated to last “up to” 7 or 8 hours on a single charge, and that it may be recharged up to 1,000 times.  (Compare this to other laptops which may only hold a 3 or 4 hour charge with a recharge life of 200 to 300 charges.) You can watch Apple’s video regarding its battery design below.

Apple rates the battery for 200 charges per year, so at 1,000 charges the battery will need replacing in 5 years.  Of course users who frequently save to the hard drive will have to charge the battery more frequently.  If you use your laptop on weekends, you may find yourself recharging the battery for than 200 times per year, too.

Apple Online Store

Still, this is a pretty big boost in battery life, but, once the battery’s lifetime ends, you won’t be able to change the battery yourself.  You will have to take it to an Apple store or authorized reseller for replacement. This might be difficult for owners who live in remote areas. The battery costs about $160.

Admittedly, not everyone runs on their batteries every day. Deskbound MacBooks will find themselves plugged into a wall outlet.

Weight

The 17 inch MacBook Pro is also one of the heaviest MacBooks on the market. With its battery being 40% larger than previous batteries, and its block of aluminum chassis, it weighs a full pound more than the 15 inch MacBook Pro, but is still within the same weight range as other laptops in its class.

Blu-ray?

MacBook fans who were hoping for a Blu-ray DVD drive for high def video or data storage will have to wait a little bit longer. There is no Blu-ray in this MacBook, and there is no option available for one as at upgrade at time of purchase either (at this time).

Solid State Drive

The $2,800 model has a standard 320 GB (gigabyte) Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive, but two solid state drive upgrade options are available for $500 (128 GB) and $900 (256 GB). Though smaller in capacity, the solid state drives (SSD) provide greater durability and shock resistance over the standard SATA drives. Standard drives have moving parts, but sold state drives have no moving parts. Solid state drives are similar to the flash memory chips found in the digital cameras, or to the drives found in some iPods.

Memory (RAM)

The Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch model comes with a full 4 GB of RAM, and can be upgraded to 8 GB of RAM for an additional $1,200. So if you add the large solid state drive and the full 8 GB of RAM your new MacBook will cost about $5,000.

Most people will find the 4 GB of RAM sufficient, but for the frequent traveller I would recommend adding the solid state drive for its sheer durability.  More on the 17-inch MacBook Pro below:

17-inch Tech Specs
Height: 0.98 inch (2.50 cm)
Width: 15.47 inches (39.3 cm)
Depth: 10.51 inches (26.7 cm)
Weight: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg)Display: 17-inch (viewable)
LED-backlit glossy widescreen
1920 by 1200 pixelsBattery: Built-in lithium-polymer
Up to 8 hours of wireless productivityConnections and Expansion:
MagSafe power port
Gigabit Ethernet port
One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps)
Three USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
Mini DisplayPort
Audio line in
Audio line out
ExpressCard/34 slot
Security cable lock slot
Included Software:
Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard
Time Machine
Mail
iChat
Safari
Photo Booth
Front Row
Boot Camp

iLife ’09

  • iPhoto
  • iMovie
  • GarageBand
  • iDVD
  • iWeb
Apple Online Store

Great Advice for New Computer Owners

Rob Pegoraro of The Washington Post has an excellent article, “Pre-Flight Instructions For Your New Computer”, for new computer owners. Whether you have a new PC or a new Mac he offers excellent advice for getting started with your new computer.  Here are a few of the recommendations he’s made for users of Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard:

  • Activate the pre-installed antivirus on a PC. (Skylarking note: Or download Avast at www.avast.com, and download the Home edition. It’s free if you only have it iusntalled on one PC in your household. Mac users can consider getting an antivirus program at the Apple Store online to spare your PC using friends from viruses you might accidentally pass on.)
  • Turn on the firewall on your Mac: Click System Preferences >> Security>> Firewall >> “Set access for specific services and applications”. (Note: The firewall on Windows Vista PC is active out of the box.)
  • Download system updates. Vista: Start >> Control Panel >> Check for updates. Mac: Apple-icon >> Software Update.
  • Remove “trialware” and buy the $150 Home and Student Edition of Microsoft Office 2007, or download the free OpenOffice 3 at http://openoffice.org or use the free Google Docs Web-based software at http://docs.google.com. Uninstall software via Start >> Control Panel >> Uninstall a program.
  • Declutter the desktop: Drag and drop unwanted icons into the Recycle Bin, or use right-click and delete on the icons.
  • Declutter the Mac’s Dock: Drag unwanted icons off the Dock, and they’ll vanish.
  • Backup: Use Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore Center with an external drive, or, if you have a broadband connection, use a free online backup via Mozy at http://mozy.com.
  • Backup on a Mac: Get an external hard driveand use Apple’s Time Machine software.
  • Surfing the Web? Get Mozilla Firefox, http://mozilla.com, for free. Many people prefer it over the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mac’s Safari.
  • Rest: Don’t rush to install your old programs, and “don’t go crazy trying out new ones.”
  • For an old printer or scanner: Go to the manufacturer’s web site and download the updated drivers instad of using the ones on the original CDs. (Skylarking note: You might also find that the Windows drivers are sufficient for operationg these items.)

He makes additional suggestions regarding email applications (Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail), music and video playing software (iTunes), and photo editing tools such as Picasa.

Check out Rob Pegoraro’s article in full and enjoy your new computer. Happy holidays!




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