It’s phone season

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009
HTC Android phone
HTC Android phone – click for larger

Rogers
has announced
[1]
[2]
availability of the HTC Dream and HTC Magic phones, both running Google’s Android OS, which is not dissimilar to the iPhone’s OS.

The major concern with the previous Android phone, the G1, was the battery life.
It would last an hour.
Apparently this is no longer such an issue.
According to
ZDNet Asia:

Inevitably the connected nature of many of the HTC Magic’s applications means that you’ll push the battery pretty hard. The quoted life is up to 7.5 hours of talk and 420 hours on standby. We found we needed to charge the battery every day at first, but after the initial burst of heavy use this settled down to a couple of days between charges.

The phones cost the same – $150 – and Rogers offers a $45/month, 500 MB data plan.
Quite a bit less data than the 6 GB plan early iPhone users are currently enjoying.

Another phone on the horizon is the
Nokia N97.

Rogers 3G Internet USB Dongle

Monday, November 24th, 2008

My Mom lives on Wolfe Island.
She has no access to DSL (her phone lines are low quality) or cable.
Until recently, we had been considering getting her Rogers’ WiMax solution, which would have given her ~2Mbps for about $50/month.

When we called to order it over the weekend, however, the sales agent told us about the USB thingee internet solution.
I’d seen ads, and assumed it was simply WiMax on a USB dongle, which would be inappropriate for my Mom, since the inside-antenna WiMax solution wouldn’t work for her (poor signal).
We were going to go for the higher-startup-cost, outdoor antenna solution.

But no, as it turns out this USB thingee uses the 3G network for internet.
This is good news since I noticed that my iPhone was getting 5 bars at my Mom’s place.

It turns out the USB dongle has a SIM card in it.
Interesting!
So if I one could get their hands on a USB dongle, it might be possible to move an iPhone SIM into it and plug it in to the USB port on a laptop for unfettered internet with a 6 GB/month cap!

Update: apparently Rogers is calling it the Rocket.

The Canon HG21 has landed

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Various sites are now advertising it for $1,300.
[Vistek]
[Aden Camera]
[ShopBot.ca]
[MostlyDigital.ca (for $1,126!)]
[Canoe.ca]
[Henrys]

Nifty.

Update [2008-11-25 8:16 PM]:
MostlyDigital now has it for $930, a drop of $200!

iPhone 3G: Meets Expectations

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
iPhone 3G
click for bigger

So we got the iPhone.
Here at last.

Why was I disappointed?
Mostly, no video.

Certainly at least the same video streaming capability we’ve seen in the Nokia N95
(Qik.com, anyone?),
but hopefully also streaming video *in* as well.
Was iChat A/V too much to ask?

What remains to be seen is how much Rogers is going to charge.
Luisa told me this morning she heard on the radio that it would be $80!
AT&T in the ‘States is charging $30.

Sony Bravia W4000 decodes AV-CHD

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Sony Bravia W4000

I was reading about the brand new Bravia W4000 when I saw this:


The Series also supports the extended xvYCC colour space for moving images that Sony says set to replace sRGB as the industry standard has an integrated HDTV tuner and AVC-HD decoder alongside the DVB-T digital tuner.

So not only does it support xvYCC, which I think you need for HDMI 1.3a,
but you can plug in flash memory from your fancy new AV-CHD HD camcorder and play it back!

At least, that’s what I am assuming this means..

The small model cost around $1,300 for the small one I think.

Slightly higher bit-rate AVCHD

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Sony HDD 16Mbps AVCHD Camcorder
The Sony HDR-SR12 16Mbps AVCHD camcorder

AVCHD is another name for H.264, a very popular video codec that is also used in Apple’s iPod.
One handy feature of AVCHD is that you can burn it directly to Blu-ray discs and Blu-ray players
will play them as-is.

via camcorderinfo.com,
an excellent camcorder news site

CES 2008 is in full swing, and
Sony has announced
3 new hard-drive-based AVCHD camcorders, one feature of which was “The maximum bit rate has been incrementally increased from 15Mbps to 16Mbps. This is true only for the HDD AVCHD camcorders, not the DVD models.”

The AVCHD codec—which is becoming the de-facto standard for HD video cameras—is unfortunately hobbled by its picture quality level, which is below that of its tape-based predecessor, HDV.
The low quality is likely due to the CPU power required to do good H.264 encoding.

Cowon A3 – media player handles almost all formats

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Cowon A3
Cowon A3 DivX/other media player
Cowon A3

The original post
is in Japanese, and
my Google translation link
may not work.
I’m not sure, but this device sounds pretty incredible.
It has a hefty $550 CDN price tag though (58,800Â¥), which is the price of a cheap laptop these days.

What really stood out for me was:

  • component output at 1280×720 (720p)
  • DivX support
  • Ogg support
  • AppleLossless support
  • Flac support
  • WMV support
  • H.264 support

.. the list goes on and on.
Note that the actual display is only 800×480, it’s only the component output that can support 720p.

Probably not worth the price, really, but impressive nonetheless.

Maybe they will be able to get the price down after a while, and it will get really interesting..

US $300 Blu-Ray Drive

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Well,
it’s only in China
for now, but still: US $300 for a Blu-Ray drive is pretty good.

Combine this with people figuring out how to install drivers allowing the $300 Xbox HD-DVD player to work on their Windows machines, and it gets even more interesting..

I’m thinking that by the holiday shopping season at the end of 2007, we’ll be seeing a lot more players (and consequently movies) being bought.
I suspect my prediction about rental movies switching to HD will be abeout a year later than I thought. Oh well.

HD odds and ends..

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

HDMI 1.3: Better DTV images, sound in 2007
Why today’s best HDTVs aren’t worth buying
Blu-ray / HD DVD stalemate boosting interest in combo player?

The first two posts concern HDMI 1.3, which ups the ante from 8-bit to 16-bit colour (!), as well as uncompressed, 3 Mbps audio.

The last post posits that Blu-ray and HD-DVD are tied in the race to consumers, who seem not to care very much about the whole thing.
It is my sincere hope that Blu-ray vs HD-DVD will become just as meaningless and wasteful as the DVD-R vs DVD+R debate was a few years ago.
Who even looks to see if they are buying -R versus +R these days?
I sure don’t.
Actually, all I look for is “DL”.

Update @ 2006-12-22 10:18:
Found these on Slashdot — very interesting!

HD-DVD movies sorted by picture quality
Blu-ray movies sorted by picture quality

Blu-ray seems beta, but it will win

Saturday, September 16th, 2006
Blu-ray

The following is my current impression of the status of HD formats at this moment.

There have been some comparisons of picture quality (PQ) made between HD-DVD and Blu-ray, and the latter often comes up short.
One factor is the codec used.

For some reason, the Blu-ray movies being released are mostly encoded with MPEG-2, rather than the two-generations-better VC-1.
Apparently there is encoding software coming out that runs on a PC in near realtime.
I wonder – since HD-DVD uses CV-1 as well, why can’t they encode it once for both formats?
Are there internal “HD-DVD” teams and “Blu-ray” teams at the various studios?
I really hope not.

The other factor is hardware bugs.
There have been some issues, although they may be fixed by a firmware update.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of one being released.

Now, despite all these issues with Blu-ray, it is still my pick as the eventual victor, for the exact same reason VHS beat beta: quantity.

Beta could only hold 60 minutes of video, while VHS offered 2 hours, or 6 hours if you didn’t mind crappy quality.
It’s not quite the same for Blu-ray: even at HD-DVD’s minimal 15 Gig size for a one-sided, single-layer disc, there is plenty of room for a good-quality HD movie.

However, these discs will also be used to store data on computers, and with Blu-ray being demonstrated at 200 GB (using 6 layers of 33 GB each), HD-DVD doesn’t even come close.
With our 750 GB hard disks in our computers, we need this for long-term shelf storage.

I really think it’s that simple.
Because Blu-ray and HD-DVD certainly don’t differ in any meaningful way when it comes to HD playback quality.