Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 Mac Mini

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The Mac Mini has always been an amazing piece of engineering; reasonably powerful innards paired with an attractive look, compact footprint and reasonable price. The 2011 devices are no different; I ordered one to run the media network in my home (notably, as a Printopia, Air Video and NFS server). I have a reasonable amount of storage, and the old notebook I was using to power all of it was failing (it is over 5 years old).


This new device has just slotted in and gets on with the job. Very powerful, and probably wasted in pure "server" mode, but a great asset to any home (media) network. Highly recommended!


Features hero rearview

PS. Upgrading the RAM in this one is very easy. You unscrew the lid, and pop more in. Easy.



The fastest SD card in the industry - not!


So when I heard a tagline like that, I had to test it. I ordered a Sandisk Extreme Pro SD card, and tested it in an Apple MacBook Pro, which I thought would have no interface or bus-related speed limits.


I also tested it against their Ultra and their Extreme cards. The summary of results is that there is a 1Mb/s difference (17Mb/s vs 16Mb/s) between the top end card (~R900), and the bottom end card (~R450).


Conclusion: its not worth paying more money for these "faster" SD cards. For double the money, I want to see more than 6% performance difference. Pfffft.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple TV 2

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Apple describe the Apple TV as a hobby project, which begs the question of why they are bothering with it. And the reason they're bothering is because to not have a toe in your lounge means giving up a large segment of your media spend; video. Apple relatively recently refreshed the 1st gen device with a newer, sleeker, smaller version. I had the old one, and am now busy playing with a 2nd generation version.


The 1st generation device had a hard drive in it, and you could either stream your content to it from any computer running iTunes (the devices all have built-in WiFi), store the content on the device and have no computer running or purchase content from the online store (or, as was usually the case, all three).


The new generation device is smaller, black and not white and is functionally more useless than the first one. It has lost the hard drive and now has flash storage. Great if you're in an environment with very fast, always-on connectivity. That is not true of SA. Its also lost its USB port, and has the same miserable compatibility in terms of media playback (i.e if its not in iTunes, it won't play it).


So why buy it ? Because, if you've gone to the effort of sorting out your media so that it plays and looks great on your iDevice, you want it available in your lounge in the same way too. And yes, you could dock your device, but thats dorky. This at least can be controlled by remote, makes that big TV useful by displaying album art and can drive 5.1 sound through its TOSlink output (the HDMI audio out seems to be of inferior quality).


Oh yes, this new gen device also supports Airplay; that is quite cool. Imagine you have a pic or video on your phone; you can get it onto your TV simply by selecting the Apple TV as your output screen - neat! That is a cool trick. And shifting the price point too was smart - $100 is reasonable and fair for a hobby, the old one at $300+ wasn't.

The coolest iPad2 cover - ever!

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Joby are better known for making funky portable tripods (aka the Gorillapod), but they also have a line for the favorite fondleslab of the moment; Ori for iPad 2.


Yes, your friends will laugh at you because it makes your sleek, svelte device thicker and heavier. Yes, they will laugh because it takes you a minute or three to setup once you get somewhere.


But you shouldn't care; the number of angles, the versatility of the positions, the front and back protection make it all worthwhile!


Check out the video to get an idea of how cool this cover is! I bought mine from Rene at Wintec Solutions, a very friendly gentleman who wowed me with his service and attitude.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Crashplan iOS and Android apps now available

I've spoken of Crashplan before; they have now released mobile applications. They work very well, and are a great way to retrieve your backed up data from almost anywhere. Neat!

HTC Sensation & LeeDroid


Htc sensation 1

I've been a big fan of HTC for a while; their Sense UI is really slick. I changed my previous Desire HD for a Sensation, which is essentially the same phone but dual-core.


There's not much to say, other than that its a slick device, good build quality, but a little boring with plain old factory software. I used in order to S-off the device, and installed LeeDroid on it. The combination is very fast, powerful and a pleasure to use. Highly recommended!