Tag Archive | gadgets

Shafted by Sony

I’ve owned a Sony PlayStation 3 since the day it came out.  As a fully paid up geek, it’s full raft of features impressed me.  At the moment, I use it as a blu-ray player, a picture, movie and music storage and media player – and as a games console.  One of the features of the 60 Gb PS3 I purchased was the option to install another operating system, namely Linux.  This attracted me because it meant I could also catch up on emails and surfing at the same time, particularly since the PS3 browser is a bit slow.  When the newer PS3 Slim came out recently, I resisted upgrading on one of the brilliant deals around at the time because the slim didn’t have the Linux functionality and the ability to play PS2 games.  Even though I’ve used a few different variants of Linux for a couple of years now on my netbook, I’ve never actually got around to installing Linux on the PS3.

But now Sony have decided to remove the Linux functionality in a hammer to crack a nut attempt to stop game pirating.  This means that an advertised and documented feature (it’s in the hefty manual!) of the PS3 is being removed.  Something you’ve paid for being taken away.  That’s a bit like your car’s manufacturer coming into your garage and removing the sunroof from your car.  Sony do offer a choice not to download the update which borks Linux, but it’s not really a reasonable choice.  By avoiding the update you also lose access to the PlayStation Network (PSN) – which means no more online gaming, game upgrades and game patches, and a loss of online features and updates for blu-ray movies.  These are features I don’t want to lose.

This catch-22 situation is no choice, either way you go you’re going to lose functionality, and most punters are going to be forced to let Linux go.

So okay, I’ve never used the feature, but really this isn’t about the Linux.  It’s about a feature being removed from someone’s consumer product without the owner’s consent.  This is a poor way to treat customers.  I’ve lost all confidence in Sony, and won’t purchase any more games for their console.  Who’s to say that Sony won’t spring other such scumbag tricks on their customers in the future?  I’ve no motivation to purchase any of their PS3 related products if their usefulness can be taken away at a whim.  Successors to the PS3 (which is still an excellent entertainment and media system) will be treated with a healthy dose of cynicism.

It wouldn’t be too bad if Sony offered something useful to their customers in return, like expanded video codec compatibility or a choice of free movie downloads from the PSN movie store.

Given that the announced update is for April 1st, I’m really hoping that this is a joke, and that Sony aren’t out to screw me over.

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Green Apples

Being green isn’t easy, especially when you’re a tech addict.  I’ve been an iPod Touch user for a while, but today I’ve moved further into dark Jobsian territory by moving to the iPhone.

I was looking for a smartphone and it was a toss up between the Palm Pre, Nokia N900 and the iPhone.  All have their pros and cons, but researching through the user online forums, it seemed to me that overall the iPhone seemed the least troublesome.  The Nokia and the Palm are both strong smartphones: the Palm being particularly dainty and pretty with a clever interface, the Nokia being a super powered Linux machine, but complaints over updates and support were a little too frequent for my liking, particularly for devices relatively new to the market.

I like my technology to work, and at least the iPhone has pedigree and I’m familiar with the interface from the iPod Touch.  So despite Apple normally winning in the visual design stakes (I actually think the iPhone/Touch is an ageing design begging for a major facelift), in my case it was down to practicality with a bit of compromise.  So now I have a BriPhone.

Although the Apple apps aren’t anything new to me, it’s not something I’ve delved too deeply into with my Touch.  I never really bothered with the iFart, iBeer, iTorch or any other of the iPrefix novelty apps.  The British Gas meter reading app is useful though.  But the iPod was mostly for casual WiFi surfing at home, and music and podcast listening on the road.  It holds only two games – solitaire and Mahjong.  Yes I know, boring.

But this afternoon I read an article in the Guardian about a new app which answers climate denial arguments, which piqued my interest, especially when it was revealed that the app came from the same guy behind the excellent Skeptical Science website.  I downloaded the app and now I’ve got the perfect in-the-pub tool to point people in the right direction – follow the science.

Who would have thought geek gadgets and climate change would so successfully intersect?

An Apple today

I visited the new Apple store in Newcastle today, and spent a good half hour drooling at the shiny toys.  Big and bright and everything with plenty of space, it’s a tech boutique for everything Apple.

However, when looking at some of the accessories, I noticed a difference in pricing between Mac and PC accessories.  Yes, I know you pay more in Apple land, but when you’re talking an extra 20 quid for a big name brand 1TB external USB hard drive just because it has been ‘specially Mac configured’ the words ‘rip’ and ‘off’ spring to mind.  I haven’t been using a Mac for very long, but long enough to know that it reads data from my PC (and PS3) formatted hard drives without any difficulty, and if you want a pristine external drive for Apple’s excellent ‘Time Machine’ back up application, it doesn’t take long for your Mac to format it.

Much of the software on sale in the store, like most high street shops, was more expensive than what it would cost online.  The Apple store wanted £75 for Photoshop Elements 8 – you can get it from Amazon for less than £58.

You don’t go to the Apple store for bargain basement prices.

The Apple store experience is helped by staff actually knowing what they are talking about.  In Currys or PC World you’d be lucky to find someone who knew the difference between PCI and AGP, or between N and N+ networking.  I know because I’ve tried.  As well as the Apple staff’s own experience, they also have access to a knowledge base, which can provide detailed information on a piece of Apple tech just by inputting the serial number off the back of your gizmo.  Floor staff carry credit/debit card machines, so you don’t even have to stand in a checkout queue for your new piece of tech bling.

Today was opening day so it was really busy, mostly student age customers and window shoppers, but there were plenty of staff on hand.  As the novelty fades a little the staffing will no doubt drop as open day help staff go back to their own stores across the country.

Of course, it’s just a shop selling computers, but it’s currently prettiest place to go to on Tyneside to see georgeous technology.

iPad, iPretty

It’s now official.  It’s not the iSlate, iTablet or iWantOne.  The iPad.  Looking like a fat iPod/iPhone, it’s Apple’s next product designed with careful precision to remove money from the wallets of geeks.  Like me.

As a recent convert to the Mac world, in Snow Leopard I’ve found an operating system that works when you switch it on.  Yes, some versions of Linux do that too, particularly those running on netbooks like the one I’m using right now, the Acer Aspire One.

What I haven’t gleaned yet is whether the iPad runs the iPod/iPhone stripped down version of the OS or a fuller more capable engine.  I’ve no real problem with the iPod/iPhone OS, it works very well on those devices and does what I want most of the time.  But a device like the iPad needs something more powerful, particularly with respect to multitasking.

It’s pretty, it’s expensive and no doubt Apple will sell boatloads.  But despite Steve Jobs’ glib accusation that netbooks are “cheap laptops”, netbooks work, especially those using Windows 7, are portable, have a proper keyboard, storage capabilities and at a fraction of the price.

Hmm, but that iPad does look mighty pretty…

2010: Looking forward to

I don’t think world peace is coming anytime soon, but for a media monkey like me…

Films

The Road
The A-Team
Invictus
Alice in Wonderland
Iron Man 2
Tron: Legacy

Games

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Xbox 360
MAG – PS3

Gadgets

Xbox – Project Natal

Real motion gaming without wands.

iSlate/Win 7 tablet

The iSlate’s a rumour, the Win 7 tablet is a reality. What would you want with an e-book if you had a truely portable tablet – especially if it looks like a gadget from Star Trek?

iPhone 4

Rumours again – it’s an iPhone, but with likely a better camera.

Nokia N900

It’s not an iPhone, it has a real keyboard, 5Mp camera – and it runs a Linux-based OS. Okay, technically not a 2010 object of desire as it’s been out since December, but with it’s beefy specification which challenges some netbooks (and is essentially a mini tablet pc) I can see this one getting the geek vote in 2010.