Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

Boxee Box, my new favourite toy

Boxee BoxI’ve had a Boxee Box for several months now, and since I haven’t done a review in ages, I feel it’s time to sing its praises. This great little device is a Home theater PC (HTPC) or also called a Media Centre. Before I bought the device I did a crazy amount of research and I just couldn’t find the right solution for me. My criteria was simple, I wanted something affordable, I didn’t want to build my own HTPC, and I didn’t want to be locked down. The Boxee fit the bill on all of these, but when it was first released it was lacking many features and early reviews said it quite buggy. Fast forward almost a year and the Boxee team refocuses their efforts entirely on set-top boxes and mobile devices bringing in much more favourable reviews. I can say that I’m glad I waited, and the Boxee Box is definitely now ready for prime time.

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The iPhone review: a year and a half later

So it’s been about a year and a half since I bought my iPhone 3G. The novelty has fully worn off, the back is full of scratches and there’s even a few dust specs under the glass, but does it still stand up to the hype? I think I can sum the iPhone up in three words.

Awesome and frustrating

The iPhone has changed how I do many things. It’s changed:

  • how, when and where I check email
  • what I read and where I read
  • how I play games
  • what I expect from other small displays
  • how I surf the web
  • how I judge the quality of other gadgets
  • how I view my stocks
  • how I listen to music
  • how I watch video
  • how I get my weather
  • how I access things like Facebook and Twitter
  • what I do when I’m lost or need to find a coffee shop
  • how I find what movies are playing today and at what theater

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2008 year of the smartphone

This year has been without a doubt, the year of the smartphone and Apple has led the charge with it’s iPhone. Touch technology seems to be all the rage now, and of course Apple introduced it’s first smartphone last year, but their second phone reached a far greater audience with more countries and recently announced sales of 6.9 Million iPhones.

I of course jumped on the iPhone bandwagon, but before I did I spent a lot of time researching many of the smartphones out there. At the time just before the second iPhone was launched there were a lot of great smartphones on the way, but none were out yet. Now that the iPhone has been out for a few months a lot of new devices have emerged. One of the reasons I bought the iPhone was because Apple was ahead of the curve, now a lot of the other manufacturers have similar offerings, but are any of them really iPhone killers? I decided to do a quick smartphone round up to see what’s currently out there.

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Sony’s new all in one desktop, the JS1

Earlier this week I saw several articles on Sony’s new all in one desktop, and it really stood out. Sony’s new JS1 all in one desktop looks sweet, at least in the pictures. There is also a sister laptop, the NS1, but it’s the desktop that really made me drool.

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Two geeks in the woods

What happens when two geeks go on a canoe trip for a long weekend? Well, they talk about geeky things for a few days and enjoy the spectacular outdoors. Mike is a good friend of mine and fellow Geek; he also runs the site Geeks In Training and his personal outdoors blog A Word in the Woods. Last weekend we took a four day canoe trip to the beautiful Algonquin Provincial Park, which covers 7630 square kilometers of pristine wilderness in Ontario, Canada. We got as far away from the city and our gadgets as we could, well everything except our iphones and camping gear, but more on that later.

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The future of electronic paper – a flawed vision?

Electronic paper, and e-book Readers are all based on a pretty cool technology that is truly something you have to see to believe. E Ink is the brand name manufactured by E Ink Corporation and it really does look like paper. The first time you see it you realize that it has a completely different feel to it than your standard LCD display. You can check out an E Ink display at the Sony store or anywhere that sells E Ink based readers.

Lately E Ink has been getting a lot of press. Earlier this month Esquire showed off the worlds first ever E Ink magazine cover. This brought visions of the science fiction film Minority Report to many people and an environmental disaster in the making for others. There are also many e-readers being released with iRex to introduce a 10.2-inch E Ink reader next week. Although I love the technology, I think the current vision of E Ink by the press and blog sphere is somewhat flawed.

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Apple recalls iPhone power adapters

iPhone 3G power adapterIf you bought an iPhone 3G in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico or Several Latin American countries you may need to ship it back to Apple and get a replacement.

From Apple:

Apple has determined that under certain conditions the new ultracompact Apple USB power adapter’s metal prongs can break off and remain in a power outlet, creating a risk of electric shock.  We have received reports of detached blades involving a very small percentage of the adapters sold, but no injuries have been reported.

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Smartphone wars heat up – HTC Dream and Blackberry Storm

AndroidEveryone is wondering what HTC and Blackberry will have up their sleeves over the next few months. The Android powered HTC Dream will be unveiled at a press event in New York City by T-Mobile next week on September 23 and it is rumoured to be ready for release sometime in October. There is also a pretty interesting video of Android being shown off at the Developer Day in London, and it’s looking very polished.

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Turning a Wii Remote into a Minority Report style input device and virtual reality

While writing and researching my post on the new Asus Eee stick game controller I came across the incredible website of Johnny Chung Lee, a Ph.D. Graduate Student of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

His entire website looks interesting and I plan to dig around some more when I get some time, but what really caught my attention was his Wii projects YouTube videos. These videos show everything from Minority Report style interaction to virtual reality all using a Wiimote for the underlying technology. Minority Report is a near future science fiction movie starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was released in 2002 and featured a lot of fictional technology that many people said was within the realm of reality in the near future.

Minority Report Input Screen

Minority Report computer terminal

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The wait is over, decision made, a shiney new iPhone

iPhoneSo my long debate over what phone to get is finally over. Yesterday morning I picked up an iPhone at the Fido store. I had already played with the first iPhone and the second iPhone along with the iPod Touch so I knew what it was all about. Even though I had played with them, I was still blown away at the ease of use and so far I’m extremely pleased with my iPhone.

My first iPhone street car ride home was spent catching up on my Google Reader feeds. People have asked me why I need to be connected all the time, so I tell them it’s really not much different than reading a newspaper in the morning only my preferred method is digital and the content I want to read for the most part won’t show up in the morning newspaper. Couple that with the fact that I hate how a newspaper feels, lets face it, they have a horrible user interface.

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