Reviews - page 156

Review: Fluid



Increasingly, people work online, using web-based applications for day-to-day tasks. Unfortunately, web browsers aren’t the most robust of applications—a single unruly website or advert is enough to lock up Firefox or bring down Safari unexpectedly. At best, you’ll waste time reopening a browser and signing back in; at worst, you’ll lose work and a precious little nugget of sanity.

Inspired by Prism by Mozilla Labs, Fluid offers an approach referred to as Site-Specific Browsers (SSBs). As the method’s name suggests, this enables you to create browsers for specific sites, making them akin to desktop applications. This is great from a stability standpoint—there aren’t other windows with content that can cause problems—but it’s also handy in making you focus on the tasks at hand, rather than getting tempted to check out other websites.

Creating SSBs using Fluid is child’s play—you bung a URL, name, location and icon (if you don’t have one to hand, an application icon is created based on the site’s favicon) into Fluid’s sole dialog, hit ‘Create’ and wait a few seconds. Fluid then invites you to launch your new SSB, which is basically a honed-down Safari with your site preloaded, restricted to site-specific content (click on an ‘external’ link and it launches in your default browser). Usefully, some SSBs (such as those based on online email) provide Dock badge updates, just like Mail, and each SSB can be restyled (UI, opacity, fonts) and set to various window levels. Not so usefully, Fluid doesn’t work particularly well with some sites (during our tests, Flickr was a notable culprit) until you tinker with the SSB’s advanced preferences and add some extra URLs that it’s allowed to peruse.

Interestingly, Fluid’s creator appears keen to take his application further. Recent builds have seen Fluid become a reasonable browser for general use, and while the ability to browse via Cover Flow won’t win it many friends, forthcoming tabbed browsing improvements and menu-extra SSBs mean Fluid has the potential to gain a strong foothold in the Mac browser market, rather than remaining a purely niche concern.

Fluid screen grab
Cover Flow in a web browser! (Don’t worry, Cover Flow objectors—you can turn it off.)

Further information

Manufacturer: Todd Ditchendorf
Price: Free

Review: TapeDeck 1.0



If you grew up in the pre-digital age, you might fondly remember the tactile qualities of what would now be summarily dismissed as ‘retro’ recording kit. There’s a definite immediacy to a tape deck: big buttons, with large text that leaves you in no doubt regarding function, and this is something that cannot be said for the bulk of audio-recording software. TapeDeck now aims to bridge old and new.

Boot the app and a digital tape deck appears on the screen. The buttons all work as you’d expect, even making suitably chunky noises when clicked. However, SuperMegaUltraGroovy has made plenty of concessions to the modern age: mono, stereo and quality levels can be selected with mouse clicks; tapes can be labelled and relabelled with ease; and keyboard shortcuts provide an alternate means of controlling the virtual tape deck (with system-wide shortcuts also available for ‘Record’, ‘Pause’ and ‘Stop’).

In keeping with the application’s aesthetic, each chunk of recorded audio is displayed in a slide-out drawer as a cassette tape. (In reality, this is merely a pretty way of displaying the contents of the M4A files TapeDeck stores in ~/Music/TapeDeck, and so users can also manage TapeDeck recordings in Finder.) Tapes can’t be recorded over, although they can be dropped in the Trash via Command-drag (Command-dragging elsewhere copies the tape to a Finder folder).

Other handy features become evident with a little exploration. Control-click on the current tape and the contextual menu provides shortcuts for adding the tape to iTunes or emailing it. And when the drawer becomes full, you can drag tapes around until you find what you want, or use the built-in search field to hone down the displayed tapes.

Strictly speaking, TapeDeck offers nothing new in terms of functionality—the likes of GarageBand and a slew of other recording apps do everything TapeDeck can and more. Also, importing is strictly limited to M4A, which is a shame—it would be great if you could drop MP3s and audio files saved with lossless formats into TapeDeck.

However, as iPhone continues to bludgeon into people’s minds, the interface is often key, and where TapeDeck excels is in making the audio-recording process totally idiot-proof and fun. It’s not quite enough for TapeDeck to garner a Cult of Mac recommendation badge, but it comes close, and if you’re flush and fancy dropping 25 bucks on a fun, straightforward and surprisingly original take on audio recording, TapeDeck more than fits the bill.

TapeDeck: handily lacking a ‘randomly chew up tape’ option.

Further information

Manufacturer: SuperMegaUltraGroovy
Price: $25

Review: Pixelmator 1.2



The level of hype upon budget image-editor Pixelmator’s debut was such that it would have made a Hollywood marketing executive giddy with glee, but the glossy pretender to Photoshop’s throne (rather brazenly lifting much of Photoshop’s interface and many of its features) divided the Mac audience. Many were sucked in by Pixelmator’s semi-transparent palettes, relative ease-of-use, and occasionally useful interface animations. I wasn’t, deciding that its beauty was skin deep, and that Pixelmator had a hell of a lot to do if it had any chance of taking on Adobe’s powerhouse, or even its errant offspring, the takes-ages-to-be-released-for-Mac Photoshop Elements. Now, with Pixelmator hitting its second fairly major revision, I figured it was time to take another look. Frankly, I think I’ll wait until version 2.0 before I bother again.

To be fair to the Pixelmator team, new features have been added: the application now boasts rulers (which neatly highlight your cursor’s location, but have an odd habit of vanishing when you switch from a different Space in Leopard), guides, grids and snap settings, a curves tool, and a color balance tool—although one might argue they should have been present from the start. Some of the existing tools have been tarted up a little, and a polygonal lasso tool has mooched on in.

Also, the translucent interface has been toned down. If you’ve not seen Pixelmator before, it’s largely dressed in a HUD-style skin, but rather than restricting this to dialogs or temporary palettes, you can even see through the document window background and title bar. (Seriously, guys, this is a distraction, and while the new version is an improvement, we’d much prefer an option to turn off the transparency entirely.) Unfortunately, similar improvements haven’t filtered through to other areas of the interface: in an area where precision is often key, it’s bizarre that you still can’t directly input numerical values into filter dialogs, instead being forced to mess about with sliders. Still, the small ‘string’ that attaches a filter dialog to its focal point remains, and shows that some of Pixelmator’s effects aren’t just eye-candy. If only more of the interface had the same level of practicality.

However, despite these grumbles, Pixelmator is now fairly fully-featured (at least if you’re editing RGB imagery—inexplicably, there’s still no CMYK support), and there’s a decent range of filters, so why am I still pulling a sour face? Performance is the answer—or, rather, lack of performance. When using a low-cost image editor feels like a treacle-wading session, on a machine where even the bloatware that is Photoshop CS3 is pretty damn nippy (a Mac Pro with 5GB of RAM, fact fans), it’s time to throw in the towel. The biggest culprit is perhaps the Clone Stamp tool, which is simply unusable in real-time, but many of the other tools proved similarly sluggish, such as the Brush tool, which seemed to take a half-second or so to start displaying what I was drawing. When using a Wacom tablet, Pixelmator was also prone to ignoring fairly speedily drawn curves, instead rendering them as a series of straight lines.

So, Pixelmator: you’ve got me beat. And if I have to make a recommendation, it’s this: Photoshop Elements 6 is only 20 bucks more than Pixelmator when grabbed from Amazon, and, when the current state of both applications is considered, Adobe’s effort is about 20 times better.

This could almost be a real-time movie of how fast Pixelmator is sometimes.

Further information

Manufacturer: Pixelmator Team Ltd.
Price: $59

Review: Tangle 1.1.1



I’m sure there’s a major discovery to be made in the world of science that would explain how my iPod headphones get tangled up so thoroughly and rapidly. It seems that no matter what cunning tricks I employ, nor how tidy I try to be, my headphones always appear in a knotted mess when I want to use them, which tends to make me angry on the scale of ‘want to kick a puppy’. Surprisingly, then, I really like Tangle, which, in a broad sense, is rather like untangling a set of iPod headphones or ten.

It’s safe to say that Tangle is gaming at its purest level. There are no characters or storylines. Instead, there are a bunch of green circles, connected with gray lines, displayed in an aesthetic manner that most 8-bit computers would have little trouble with. The idea is to drag the circles around until no lines are crossed, whereupon you’re provided with a jaunty little jingle, a time, and a means of accessing the next level (which has more lines to uncross).

Tangle isn’t rocket science—it has a kind of mindless quality that’s akin to Tetris. But as most people who’ve sampled Alexey Pajitnov’s classic will testify, it’s often the simplest games that are the most enduring. Although Tangle isn’t on a par with the Russian block-stacking game, and, frankly, is a little overpriced, it’s still a fun title to while away the odd half-hour. And despite the extremely basic visuals, on-screen feedback is clear, and the online leaderboard enables you to pit your capabilities against Tangle ninjas around the world.

Tangle screen grab
If this reminds you of your iPod headphones, I sympathize. I really do.

Further information

Manufacturer: MC Hot Software
Price: $20

Review: Default Folder X 4.0.5



Open and Save dialogs are as unsexy as things come on the Mac, but every Mac user has to deal with them daily. Despite Mac OS X being in its fifth major incarnation, these dialogs are still limited, but with Default Folder X, everything changes, and even a little sleekness is thrown into the mix.Once Default Folder X is installed, a black HUD-style overlay surrounds Open and Save dialog boxes, its toolbar providing access to user-definable favorites, recent folders, and a slew of handy options (such as rename, reveal and move) that puts Apple’s own dialogs to shame. Usefully, favorites can have hot-keys assigned via Default Folder’s preferences pane, which also provides the means to create a default Open/Save folder for each installed application.

Other included niceties are the menu/Dock item, providing a system-wide means of rapidly navigating mounted volumes and defined favorites, and a superior preview within Open dialogs, which automatically stretches to fill available vertical space. Spotlight comments and file properties are also possible to manipulate from Open and Save dialogs when Default Folder X is installed.

Although at the pricier end of the shareware spectrum—especially for a one-shot utility—Default Folder X is nonetheless an essential purchase. The seconds it saves every time you open or save a file soon add up, and after a few months’ use, you’ll find Macs lacking the application feel naked by comparison.

 Default Folder X screen grab

Default Folder X continues to excel in its fourth major revision, making it much easier for Mac users to open and save files.

Further information

Manufacturer: St. Clair Software
Price: $34.95 (upgrades from $14.95)

Mac Bundle Battle Royale



Pitting two great software bundles head-to-head in CultofMac cage match? What the heck, we have to do something to amuse ourselves until WWDC

Mac users this week are presented with two choices for bundles of shareware. The MacHiest bundle that includes 12 titles, bundled together for $49, and the MacUpdate promo that includes 10 titles for $64.99 (albeit 3 of them are locked until they reach specific sales numbers).

We get under the covers of these bundles to see which are worth your hard-earned duckets.

Aperture Uber Alles? (Apple Attacks Photoshop)



Filed under, it’s never too soon.

This evening, without so much as a beating drum to alert the dogs of war, Apple fired a shot right across the bow of Adobe Photoshop’s dominion over photo editing.

Aperture is already my favorite photo organizing and fine-tuning software –it’s brilliant, and offers a seamless upgrade to the familiar iPhoto. What’s been frustrating however is the need to export to Photoshop to perform anything more than basic RAW adjustments to highlights, shadow, sharpness and re-touch.

Today, this all changed. Apple has released an example plug-in “Dodge and Burn”, and with it, demonstrated Aperture’s plug in architecture. Per this review, additional plug ins are in the works from Nik Software, PictureCode, and Digital Film Tools.

Sure we won’t be able to “paint” in it (and why would we), but if Aperture will shortly have access to the kind of plug-in library available to Photoshop, there may be virtually no need for Adobe in any professional photographer’s workflow. This is clearly one step further in Apple’s strategy to dominate their core “creative professionals” market. Remember when Avid/Adobe Premier owned film editing? Who is going to pick that over Final Cut now?

I’ve been playing with the version 2.1 now for a few hours and love the new functionality, but what’s got me more exited is the potential, I see a huge library of plug-ins on the horizon. So Aperture users, sound off, what plug-ins do you desire most? Me, top of the list, I want an HDR merge and tone-map plug-in, Right Now.

Apparently, Some Love the MacBook Air



Back in January, I was fairly effusive in my disappointment in the MacBook Air. I still think it’s a product that has a long way to go before it fulfills its promise as a thin, light, road warrior’s machine (the fact that it isn’t standard with an SSD is a pretty poor statement about its long-term reliability), but I’m now willing to admit that it hits the mark with at least some people, including people I really respect, like BusinessWeek’s Reena Jana, their innovation editor.

I’ve had a lot of conversations with Reena in the past, and she’s a constantly on-the-go kind of person, meeting with design and innovation leaders around the country. She probably travels for business more than I do. And she loves her MacBook Air:

OK, so I personally don’t have the need for many USB ports, nor for a huge, huge hard drive. And I don’t even feel that bad that there’s no Ethernet port, although I could get an attachment for it, which to me isn’t such a big deal (I rarely use the Ethernet jack). I’m reminded of when MacBook’s stopped having a floppy drive, or a dial-up jack. People were upset. But other laptops followed, because these features became obsolete. I see a parallel here, and my laptop lifestyle was starting to reflect the phasing out of DVDs and Ethernet jacks before the Air was released.

Fair points all, though I think I’d be more comfortable with the Air’s lack of a DVD drive if Apple distributed its own software, such as iWork, on USB key instead of DVD… Still, this is another reminder that a lot of people don’t need anywhere near the file storage capacity that I do. Just this weekend, I learned that my sister-in-law is desperate for an Air, as well. I’ll be very interested to hear how the Air performs in the market. I still think it will meet a fate similar to the G4 Cube, but there are some people who are incredibly excited by it.

For me, I think I’m stuck in Steven Levy’s camp: If I even had one, I think I’d probably throw it out with the newspapers by accident.

The Longest MacBook Air Review Ever



The MacBook Air is starting to reach customers, and early reviews of the Apple’s thinnest laptop is starting to trickle down the wire. None trickles with as much force as Jason Snell’s astoundingly thorough dissection of everything about the Air, from software to hardware, from connectivity to battery life and more. I highly recommend the review (which is positive, but laden with caveats). I think it might be the most even-handed review of the Air so far. I mean, who knew that its headphone jack was as wonky as the iPhone’s?

New Batch of iPhone Competitors Miss Big On Software



Several handset-makers, including LG, HTC, Palm, and Nokia, have launched new “iPhone-killers” in the last couple of weeks, hoping to prove that the phone guys understand something that Apple doesn’t. And according to David Pogue, one such effort, the T-Mobile Shadow does a great job of making that point. Until you start using Windows Mobile 6, which is a blight on phone-dom. The review is a riot:

When you’re assigning a contact to one of the five “My Faves” slots, a T-Mobile calling plan that gives you unlimited calls to your five favorite numbers, three confirmation screens is two too many.

If it takes four presses on the More button just to see everything in the Start menu and you provide no direct way to get to the first page from the last you need to redesign.

And that’s the big difference, for me. Until someone comes out with an interface half as intuitive as the iPhone’s, I can’t be swayed. I guess we’ll see what Google’s got when it rolls out the Android SDK today, but it looks like Apple’s lead is insurmountable.

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Ars Technica’s Sublime Leopard Review



Updated: Ah, John Siracusa. Is anyone else capable of such sublime operating system reviews? His Leopard manifesto (17 action-packed pages) is sublime:

That’s the Downloads folder on the left, and the disk image file on the right. It’s slightly bigger.

If you are not shaking your head, uttering something profane, or taking some deity’s name in vain right about now, congratulations, Apple may have a position for you in their user interface design group.

He’s complimentary where Apple got it right, mean where it got it wrong, and always insightful and funny.

World’s Fastest Vista Notebook



PC World: In Pictures: The Most Notable Notebooks of 2007

The fastest Windows Vista notebook we’ve tested this year is a Mac. Try that again: The fastest Windows Vista notebook we’ve tested this year–or for that matter, ever–is a Mac. Not a Dell, not a Toshiba, not even an Alienware. The $2419 (plus the price of a copy of Windows Vista, of course) MacBook Pro’s PC WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 88 beats Gateway’s E-265M by a single point, but the MacBook’s score is far more impressive simply because Apple couldn’t care less whether you run Windows.

Via Daring Fireball

Apparently, Leopard UI Not Perfect Yet…



Buzz on Leopard is mostly quite positive as we roll into the first full week of its availability on the market. That’s mostly, mind. R.L. Pryor, owner of ThinkMac Software and creator of such shareware gems as NewsLife and InstantGallery, has a few complaints about the UI in Leopard. I’ll share just one, then you must click through for more. Absolutely hysterical.

Stars in their eyes: Where do the stars end and the status lights begin? I suppose it could be worse, no one buy Steve Jobs one of those infinity mirrors OK?

ThinkMac Software – Blog

Thanks, Andrew!

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Flock 1.0 Public Beta is the Best Mac OS X Browser



Ladies and gentlemen, Flock, the Mozilla-based open-source Web browser trying to make the social aspects of the Internet central, is finally useful. And oh, is it, useful. First introduced in the fall of 2005, the program, which integrates Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and blogging software was for years a slower, more crashable alternative to Firefox. I never used it for more than about 10 minutes before. Suddenly, as of last week, it has vaulted over Firefox, Camino and Omniweb. It’s by far the best web browser for anyone with friends online that I have ever used. You should all download Flock 1.0 Public Beta at your nearest convenience. It even takes Firefox add-ons.

The marquee feature of the new version is the People Sidebar, a screen real estate gulping interface for a few key social media services. Essentially, once you register, you get a constant stream of new status and upload updates from all of your contacts of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube. It just moves along. You can send messages, Poke people, send photos, or what have you, all without heading over to the hosting web page. The other key feature is the Media Bar, which allows subscriptions to the media streams from Flickr, Photobucket, Facebook or others. There’s drag and drop image, video and text support, as well as an incredible clipboard that goes far beyond the typical features to optimize for reuse.

Then, in addition to all of that, there’s a built-in blog editor that’s widely compatible and nearly as capable as ecto, my dedicated blog app of choice. Its only limitation right now is that it requires the use of one of its supported hosting services for images, not native image hosting.

Other than that, it’s revolutionizing the way I consume information and connect with the people around me. And it’s made blogging almost preposterously easy.

Thanks, Stuart — for showing the way!

Test-Drive Flock 1.0 | Flock

Blogged with Flock

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Mossberg Reviews Leopard



Leopard has been with journalists for awhile. Uncle Walt thinks it’s not a huge improvement, but it’s much better than Vista.

Leopard: Faster, Easier Than Vista
Upgrade of Apple’s OS Isn’t Revolutionary, But It Beats Microsoft’s
The Mac is on a roll. Apple Inc.’s perennially praised but slow-selling Macintosh computers have surged in popularity in the past few years, with sales growing much faster than the overall PC market, especially in the U.S. By some measures, Mac laptops are now approaching a 20% share of U.S. noncorporate sales, up from the low single digits where they once seemed stuck.

Personal Technology –

Blogged with Flock

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Verdict: iPhone Alternatives Don’t Measure Up



Several hundred thousand people across the country are now happy iPhone users. They’re also all AT&T users, whether they wanted to be or not. Until Apple shipped their wonder-phone, I was never that interested in phones focused on e-mail and web browsing — then it all changed. However, as a T-Mobile user, my options are limited. Much as I would like to say I’m glad that my service agreement will force me to wait until at least the second-generation iPhone, I’m not. I want a great phone. And so I headed to the T-Mobile store yesterday, in search of hope. And I found none. To read the gory details, hit the jump.

The Three Word iPhone Review – It Fuckin’ Rocks!



The iPhone is gadget heaven. It really does restore your sense of childlike wonder. I’ve had a blast all weekend running my greasy finger over its glassy surface.

It’s a Crackberry for the masses. Finally, mobile email, messaging and web browsing is fun and easy — how did it take so long?

I’ve had a Treo and cell phone email for years, but never, ever used them — they’re a mess. Now I’m an iPhone text addict — a 41-year-old acting like a teenager.

I bought one on Friday and have been out around town with my kids all weekend. The little angels monopolized it, surfing the web and watching YouTube. They figured it out immediately. I showed them one thing — how to use your fingers to shrink and zoom — that was it. I took some calls, surfed the web and sent some email.

I found it’s not all roses — there’s serious issues using it for work — but in general, we’re true believers.

The Good and The Bad after the jump. Plus camera phone samples.

WWDC: Safari 3 on Windows Review



Having spent a day with the beta for Apple’s much-ballyhooed Safari browser for Windows XP, I’m ready to pronounce it the fastest browser for XP that I’ve used on a regular basis. On the other hand, it also is riddled with the kinds of bizarre bugs only a public beta could expose.

Sometimes, it’s both the fastest and the stupidest browser on all of Windows. If you’re on the fence, click through to hear whether your working style is ready for this not-quite-ready-for-prime-time browser contender while stranded in the Windows world.

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Rave Review: Coda Web Development App



The new Coda website development app from the well-regarded software publisher Panic gets a rave review from John Gruber at Daring Fireball. Coda is an all-in-one site creation tool, combining a text editor, CSS editor, FTP, terminal and live preview in one app.
Gruber writes:

It’s about reducing clutter and emphasizing the relationships between the different aspects of web development, making it easier to switch from source code to preview to files. Coda’s advantages are most obvious when you consider working with two or three projects at once. In Coda, each site gets its own window, grouping source code, browser previews, terminals, and file listings together.6 The idea is that all your stuff –œ file listing, source code, browser previews, terminals –œ for site A is here, all your stuff for site B is there. Coda groups and visually organizes these disparate elements by project, rather than by app.

There’s another thorough review here at MacApper.

AppleTV: A Comprehensive User Review



 Images Atv Logo Small
Thomas Fitzgerald spent some quality time with his AppleTV and wrote up this thorough and interesting review. His conclusion? It’s a great product, well thought out and executed.

It is the Apple TV’s integration with iTunes that makes it a truly fantastic product. Again it’s the little things. When you watch something on your iPod, and then sync it, it knows your playback position. When you watch a podcast, (if you set it to sync only recent episodes) it removes it and sends the next episode (but cleverly it waits till you have watched it to the end before it does so) Synching seems to happen often and as soon as you change something it will sync. It’s pretty impressive and seamless. Another cool thing is that if you have slideshows set up in iPhoto when you sync your photos it remembers the music you had set with that slide show. I know it’s simple little thing, but it just struck me as being indicative of the seamless integration across all Apple’s products, that competitors just can’t or don’t want to achieve.

…Even if you live outside the US and don’t have access to movies and TV shows on iTunes there are plenty of ways to get content onto the Apple TV. Two must have pieces of software are mediafork (aka handbrake) and visual hub. Visual hub does an excellent job of transcoding all those divx movies you may have acquired through whatever method you may have acquired them (and I’ll make no comment or suggestions on that topic) with no significant loss in quality, which is a pretty impressive feat. Media fork does a similar job with DVDs.

Perfect Pocket Camera: Lumix FX07



Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing thinks the Lumix FX07 is the perfect pocket camera:

I love these cameras (I’ve bought three more since January as gifts, with great results). They shoot stunning pictures (here’s Flickr’s collection of FX07 shots) and have totally kick-ass image stabilization that works great in low-light, getting me incredible shots without using a tripod or leaning the camera against a table. They also shoot wicked-fast, making it easy to shoot a continuous stream of photos of something exciting as it’s happening. The presets are also really smart — the aerial photography setting got great shots when I was in a helicopter last month over the Grand Canyon. The camera also shoots crisp, 640×480 Quicktime video.

Amazon Link

Video Podcasting is Going To Be Huge



Yahooligan and occassional-OS-X-critic Russell Beattie bought a new video iPod, and he absolutely loves it. Russell’s no slouch. He’s one of the sharpest observers of tech and Silicon Valley. He writes:

I got the new 30GB White iPod yesterday and it completely rocks. Apple did a great job with this gadget. Much thinner than previous iPods, super-fast syncing over USB, and the screen is *great*. Anyone who complains about the screen size is either 1) blind 2) a whining tempermental jerk 3) someone who hasn’t actually seen the screen. It’s beautiful.

I’m telling you right now, Video Podcasts are going to be huge. HUUUUGE… Making it so easy to rip or download new music and sync it to your device made the iPod what it is today. The same functionality for Videos is what is going to make the new iPod the standard bearer for portable video as well, even though it has a much smaller screen than the PSP.

…I can’t wait for iFilm and AtomFilms and JibJab and all the rest to start creating content for my iPod and other devices as well, available via an RSS feed (do they already?). And I can’t wait for the Podcast guys to start ramping up their content like RocketBoom and Mobuzz have as well.

…It’s all related, can you see it? Portable video is really here at least… and it’s going to be huuuuge!

Review: Moto’s iTunes Phone



Motorola’s Rokr is a stinkr, according to Mobile Tracker.

“One of the first things I noticed about the ROKR E1 was that it is very slow when iTunes is playing music. This holds true if you’re inside iTunes or if it is hidden. For a phone with music features being so central, this is a fatal flaw. My unit couln’t even keep the play time counter working smoothly (see video). When iTunes is playing a song menus are also slow and I easily typed faster than it could keep up with. Navigating through menus is also painful–count on a second or two after you touch a button for it to respond.

… I’m happy to report some good news though, the speakers on the ROKR E1 sound amazing. Great quality and even bass (it has a bit of rumble when you hold it). Everyone I showed the E1 off to was impressed by the built-in speakers. The idea of stereo speakers on a device this small should be ridiculous, but they sound great. Of course you’ll run through the battery faster using the speakers, but this is one thing that even the iPod cannot do.”