Wednesday, September 10, 2014

iDevice Mania

Pre post confession - I feel like I been hit by the exhaustion hammer ... rationality and quality may be compromised !

Apple have hit the headlines again with the announcements about their latest kit. I thought I'd say what I think about the various classes of computing devices out there. I'll refer to the Apple devices throughout but I think what I say about the various device size classes applies to them all, whether they're Android or from people who believe Microsoft can deliver reliable and usable kit.

(That last comment - it's my firm belief that Microsoft are playing a private joke on us all by steering their software to unusability and they're seeing how far they can push it)

However ... Apple does have that lock in thing, both with making it difficult to move away and by attempting to force you to use particular versions of software. I refuse to downgrade to iTunes 11 because I rely on the iTunes DJ function within iTunes 10.7. This means I'm staying to iOS 6.1 and older versions of MacOS X.

First up - the iWatch. I'll just say right now, there's not a cat in hell's chance of me getting one of these. I own an Accurist wrist watch which got bought last century. It keeps time almost perfectly (not quite as good as it was but 30 secs between daylight savings time changes) and I can never remember how many times it has had a new battery. Here it is :
Gosh that's an old picture. Or is it ? I can't honestly remember. Anyway - that watch does all a watch needs to do, although it did go mute on one of its battery changes. I can read it in very low light and I can read it without my glasses on. That's the advantage that analogue watches have for me over digital watches, it's easier for me to see the angle of the hands than for me to decode the fuzziness of a display.

I can see some of the functions that a smart watch may have would be useful for some people - it's in contact with the skin so it can detect things like pulse and temperature. But - it's a device that has no purpose for me.

iPods - I own an iPod Nano which saw a decent amount of service with music in the car. But I don't use it any more because my phone provides the same facility. It's a shame this one has become redundant but if you have a device that does the same without any effort involved in hooking it up, then one device gets left to gather dust.

iPhone - I'm thoroughly addicted to using smart phones now. I'm not sure what I would do without easy access to the internet. It's not just the Facebook, email and twitter. It's the ability to look up maps, weather, sport, radio. All that stuff. It keeps you connected to the world. And it's a phone.

Incidentally, that last is why I ditched my Android phone. It failed as a phone by having 1 in 5 calls go to pure static. That may have been solved with newer software but it was a Sony Xperia that was OEM locked into an archaic version.

I firmly believe the smartphone is here to stay, although I suspect they are getting too big now. They are bridging the gap to :

iPads - to be painfully honest, I will not buy one of these. I can see their purpose, they're a perfectly acceptable mini computer while having the screensize that almost makes watching movies or streamed telly, or reading books, making those activities viable. But there is that lock in that makes it difficult to e.g. watch Skygo on a telly from an iPad. (I think iPlayer works with that but Skyplayer failed).

For me, the iPad is a device in the middle. My phone does what it can do and for times when I'd use the iPad, I would have my laptop available. I don't require that device in the middle. It's an unnecessary purpose. I can see its appeal as a gadget but before you expend cash on these things, make sure you actually need it.

Laptop - this is my main computing device. My Macbook is where I communicate by email and it does the internet thingys as well. I also run my iTunes listening from the laptop. But I don't use it for gaming or for the occasional graphic manipulation. The advantage of laptops is their portability but this is also their disadvantage due to smaller screens, less computing power and awkward UIs. The keyboard and touchpad on the Macbook Air are excellent but I wouldn't want to manipulate pixels with them.

Desktop - gaming powerhouse. If too many applications go on a desktop, it slows down (Microsoft effect). So mine is aimed purely at watching video, gaming and that occasional graphic manipulation. You can load up a desktop with hefty graphics hardware that won't fit too well in a laptop. Mine has over 1000 parallel processing cores in the graphics chip. That's lots. But I won't do the gaming when I visit the mom and dad, so I don't need the hassle of moving the powerful thingy around. The laptop does the job.

So :

iWatch - spawn of fashion. Will avoid like the plague although it'll be the next big fad that everyone has to own.
iPod - gathering dust on the shelf cos the phone does what it does.
iPhone - essential for everyday satisfaction of internet addiction.
iPad - device in the middle that is a bit redundant if you have iPhone and laptop.
Laptop - computing on the move, general purpose applications.
Desktop - for gaming and stuff where a big screen is handy.

Other people's uses will vary - that's my honest take on what's useful.

And I can feel my rationality slipping - The skin's improving but I'm feeling pain from stomach muscles that I think I've torn somehow plus a few more internal niggles too. I also feel like I've been hit by the exhaustion bat, so it could be early shower tonight, retire early, hope for some sleep.

PS I think I'll be buying a camera sometime this year too. Any recommendations for a sub £100 camera ?

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