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Update: iPhone Unveiled January 10, 2007

Posted by O.J. in Technology & Gadgets.
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 iPhone

One of The Theme’s first posts back in August 2006, was the eventual release of the much anticipated and talked about iPhone 

Well, Apple Inc. has now officially introduced the iPhone to the world.  The Apple website now has an iPhone tab giving details on the many features this so-called “revolutionary” phone has to offer.

The photos I posted on my blog were mockups of what many had expected the iPhone to look like.   Turns out there were over 10 different Photoshop mockups circulating on the internet.  It’s very interesting to see how different the official design of the iPhone is when compared to the previous mockups.  You can see images of all the past mockups here.  

I don’t expect the iPhone to be released in the Middle East until 3rd quarter 2007.  But when it finally does, I’m almost certain that I’ll be in the market for a new phone…

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In-Flight Entertainment November 15, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Music, Technology & Gadgets.
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 iPod

It seems as though flying is going to be more leisurely and entertaining than we had previously expected.  Rather than pushing for faster, and obviously more dangerous, aricrafts to decrease flight time between destinations, airlines are taking on a new strategy of providing exceptional entertainment and leisure services to help travelers pass the time.

A few days ago, I posted an article about Emirates Airlines adopting a new technology that allows for the safe use of mobile phones during flight.  Well, the dubai-based airline is at it again – along with several other airlines – breaking new ground by providing travelers with a superior in-flight entertainment system.

In collaboration with Apple, Emirates Airlines will incorporate iPod connections on all its in-flight entertainment systems (First, Business, and Economy Class) where passengers can hook up their iPods and watch movies or listen to music, without the need for adaptors or the fear of losing battery life (the connections simultaneously charge your iPod).

I personally think this is a fantastic innovation!  Rather than be restricted to the movies provided by the airline, I can hook up my iPod video and watch any movie or show I want.  Or, I can simply hook up my regular iPod, Nano, or Shuffle, and enjoy my own music for the remainder of the flight.

With all these new services and innovations airlines have in the pipe-line for their passengers, boring and sleep-filled flights will be a thing of the past.

Cool Gadgets For ’07 November 6, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Technology & Gadgets.
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There are plenty of new, cool tech gadgets slated to be released in 2007.  So for all you tech freaks out there, here a few gadgets you can spend your Eid/Christmas/Bonus money on. 

Sony VAIO UX90P – Ultra-mobile Windows PC

The design goal: a full-featured mobile PC small enough to fit in a pocket. Weighing just over a pound, this PC has a 4.5-inch touchscreen that slides up to reveal a keyboard.  Starting price…$2,000.

Ultra-mobile Windows PC

ZPN/Kenwood MIURO -Robot Boombox

This 14-inch-wide rolling robot has a built-in iPod dock and speakers; it can “dance” as it follows you around the house. It comes in white, red, black, or yellow, and cost you about $930.

Robot boombox

Mikimoto Beans iTheatre – Personal iPod Theater

Attach a video iPod, game device, or multimedia cellphone, and two two-inch LCD displays embedded in these geeky but stylish goggles to create the effect of a 50-inch TV hovering before your eyes. But watch where you’re walking. About $275.

Personal iPod theater

Sharp Vodafone 905SH – Mobile Video Telephone

With a clamshell lid that can flip up and rotate 90 degrees, this 3G phone has a high-resolution, 2.6-inch widescreen display perfect for watching digital TV broadcasts. No price information yet.

Mobile video telephone

Nintendo Wii controller – Motion-Sensing Game Gear

Call it the “wee-mote” for the upcoming $250 Wii game console. With ambidextrous appeal for experienced gamers and novices alike, the wand and joystick (included in console) can be a steering wheel, racket, or gun for new dimensions of game play.

Motion sensing gears

Hitachi WOOO -Blu-ray Prototype Camcorder

These design mockups of high-definition videocameras have a charming retro style that incorporates direct recording onto future mini Blu-ray three-inch discs. Too bad there are no mini Blu-ray players yet. (Not on market.)

Blu-Ray prototype camcorder

Personally I wouldn’t spend my money on any of these gadgets.  I wouldn’t be caught dead in those robocop goggles.  Who wants a boombox that “dances”?  A phone with a mini TV; I prefer my programs on a big screen.  Blu-ray camcorder sounds cool, but looks too clustered in the prototype picture.  The Sony mobile PC seems like a nice gadget, if only the price dropped slightly.  The Nintendo motion sensors are very cool, but then again, you’d have to buy the console.  I’d prefer to stick to the Sony Playstation.

What Is Your Brain Age? October 22, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Fun & Games, Technology & Gadgets.
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 BrainBrain Age

Well, Brain Age is a measure, in terms of age, of how efficient, quick, and powerful your brain works.  Just like the body, you need to constantly train your brain or else it becomes weak and lazy.  By training your brain, I don’t just mean your regular everyday reading, thinking, writing and speaking.  I’m talking about specific puzzles, equations, and drills that allow you to use all parts of the brain.

 

It seems that only certain parts of your brain light up when you are working on -let’s say- a quantum physics equation.  However, when working with quick, rapid, simple equations, your whole brain lights up.  So, a large part of your Brain Age is basically the speed in which you can react to and answer simple and rapid questions, in addition to memory, words, speech, colors, and puzzle solving.

 

Training your brain each day supposedly helps keep your brain working and in shape.  According to Japanese neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, the ultimate Brain Age is 20.  Brain Age, unlike IQ, is not an estimate of intelligence but rather a measure of brain activity.  Keeping your brain active is a way of preventing memory loss and reducing the risk of senility or Alzheimer’s.

 

The other day, I was introduced to a Brain Age program on a handheld device.  The device is the new Nintendo DS (pictured below) and the software is called “Brain Age, Train Your Brain in Minutes A Day!”, which was created by Dr. Kawashima in collaboration with Nintendo.  Within minutes of turning on the device I was being hit with rapid math problems and scribbling the answer down using the device’s stylus pen.  It is really impressive! The software also includes Sudoku puzzles, memory games, word-colour combo games, and many more exercises to stimulate the brain.

 

First time I took the test, I got a Brain Age of 34.  The second time, I got a Brain Age of 28.  Not too bad considering how absent-minded and forgetful I am.  I’m definitely going to buy myself one of these devices while in London.  I don’t expect to get any smarter, but maybe I’ll stop forgetting where I put my car keys…

Nintendo DS

“Which Nokia Are You Talking About?” September 18, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Technology & Gadgets.
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Nokia1 Nokia2

I remember the good old days, when I used to be a Nokia mobile phone user.  You had your 3 series, your 5 series and your 6 series.  Then, things got out of hand.  I became incapable of keeping up with new Nokia models.  The 4433…7850…8410.  Then came the “i”‘s….9300 and 9300i.  Enough already!  The numbers became so hard to remember, that people in Jordan attached catchy and widely used names for certain models.  There was the Farasheh (Butterfly), the Baby Nokia, Sabooneh (Soap Bar), and Dubbeh (The Bear). 

Although not a huge fan of Motorolla phones, the use of names rather than numbers has been a huge marketing success.  The RAZR was the first Moto phone to be given a catchy 4-letter name. Motorolla’s second attempt, which I personally find extremely creative (though I hate the phone itself), is the new PEBL.  Other mobile manufactures are immitating Motorolla’s ingenuity; LG recently released its elegant all black phone called “Chocolate”.  Not quite as creative as the RAZR or PEBL, but a good effort nonetheless.

Inspired by the success of Moto’s RAZR and PEBL, the world’s leading mobile phone maker last week announced that it will be dropping the use of numbers and instead give its phones real names that carry a meaning.

Despite this latest announcement, Nokia still introduced 3 new handsets last week all of which were still numbered:  7390, 7373, 7360.  However, the latest edition to Nokia, the 8800, although still numbered, carries the name “Sirocco”.  Perhaps the next models will completely get rid of the numbers, which are so hard to remember. 

Motorolla started a new revolution in the way mobile phones are now marketed.  I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next!

Coming Zune September 17, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Technology & Gadgets.
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 Zune

With Apple announcing its new line of next generation iPods, and with a generally busy week for music, video, and mobile devices, Microsoft has added to the noise by announcing the launch of its Zune Mp3 player which it plans to release in time for the holiday season.  This puts Microsoft in direct competition with Apple who’s 5-year head start with iPod and iTunes has built it a market share of more than 75% in the United States.

Features of the Zune , which is to be manufactured by Toshiba, include the following:

  • 30 or 60 GB of memory;
  • FM Radio;
  • 3-inch screen (compared to the iPods 2.5-inch screen); and
  • wireless file-sharing technology.

Zune_Black

Microsoft believes the wireless sharing feature is what will differentiate the Zune from the iPod.  Full-length songs that are wirelessly shared can be played only three times within a 3-day period, after which the recipient will need to buy the song to play it again; otherwise the file disappears.

A few drawbacks to the Zune:

  1. The Zune displays a large 3-inch screen designed for movies, but there are no movies yet (movies are set to be released in Spring of 2007);
  2. The device will NOT play content bought from the iTunes Music Store of Apple.

The Zune will come in white, black, and brown.  Pricing is said to be competitive with that of other music players.

Although Apple’s latest announcement of its new line of next generation iPods was quite disappointing, if it comes down to a battle between the iPod and the Zune, the Pod should come out victorious.  The Zune’s swapping feature is fantastic, and may lead to increased sales via its Zune Marketplace software. However, Apple’s 5-year head-start has helped build a successul base of loyal consumers. 

Will the Zune end up being the iPod killer?  In my opinion, the army of silent people wearing white iPod earbuds will keep on marching…

Here’s a demo of Microsoft’s Zune music player.  [Link]

Playstation 3 Facts September 14, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Technology & Gadgets.
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 PS3

The long-awaited Playstation 3 is set for a November 2006 launch and should cost at least USD 400 given all the new technology in the PS3 and the 60GB hard-drive confirmed to be sold with every console.  The PS3 will have 100% backward compatibility and upscale legacy games into high definition, much like the Xbox 360 does with original Xbox games. 

The PS3 is 2x more powerful than the Xbox 360 and 15x more powerful than the Nintendo Revolution is predicted to be.  It has a processing capacity of 2.18 TFLOPS, which is put into context when you realise that some of the fastest computers in existence can only do 36 Terraflops.  It is said to be 35x more powerful than the PlayStation 2 is.

 PS3_2

The PS3 is also expected to sport some impressive multimedia features, such as video chat, Internet access, digital photo viewing, and digital audio and video.  Since the console has two HD outputs, it is can be hooked up to two side-by-side HDTVs to project video in a 32:9 extra-widescreen format.

The media format that the PS3 will use will be the new Blu-ray disc. The discs can hold up to six times as much data as current-generation DVDs. It will also support CR-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD+R formats.

Games in development include Gran Turismo 5, Tekken 6, Metal Gear Solid 4, The Getaway 3, Devil May Cry 4 and Warhawk Redux.

PS3_3

Summary of Sony Playstation 3 features

  • Bluetooth Wireless
  • Cell processor
  • RSX “Reality Synthesizer”
  • 256MB XDR
  • Resolution: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
  • 802.11 B/G Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0
  • Backward Compatible with PlayStation 2, Stands Vertically or Horizontally

UAE Authorities Block Skype August 31, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Dubai, News, Technology & Gadgets.
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 Skype          Vonage

Many Dubai residents are infuriated over Etisalat’s recent decision to block Voice Over IP (VoiP) applications such as Skype and Vonage all over the country; including free zones such as Media and Internet City.  For a country claiming to be the Business and Technology hub of the Middle East, I think this is definitely a move backwards.  The motive behind the decision may be based on financial grounds.  Out of the 2.5 million people living in the UAE, 1.6 million are expatriates.  There are more phones than people: 1.1 million land lines (operated by Etisalat) and 2.9 million mobile phones.  The motive may also be one of political control. Skype automatically encrypts conversations, making it costly and difficult to tap conversations or determine calling patterns.

Many institutions, corporations, and individuals all over the world use VoiP applications such as Skype or Vonage to cut-down on long distance calling expenses.  The Bank I work for actually just approved the implementation of a VoiP system on all our networks across Jordan because long distance calling rates are sky-high and these applications really help reduce communication costs while just as clear and easy to use as telephones.  So while poorer nations like Jordan are trying to work WITH VOIP technology, wealthier nations such as Dubai are prohibiting it.

Etisalat is the UAE’s telecommunications monopoly.  Angered Dubai residents have taken action against Etisalat, and have put together a petition to try and get the UAE authorities to reverse their decision.  You can find the petition on-line here.

Say Hello To The iPhone August 28, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Technology & Gadgets.
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 Apple Logo

With the enormous success of the iPod and other iPod related consumer gadgets, its no surprise that Apple is now considering entering the massive world of mobile phones.  Apple first danced to the tune of the mobile phone industry when it tangoed with Motorolla and incorporated the not-so-very-user-friendly iTunes software on new Motorolla Mobile Phones.  Rumours of Apple’s mobile phone initiative have been intensifying recently and the circulation of photos over the Internet, like the ones below, only confirm these rumours.

If the phone looks anything like it does in these photos…sold! Known to be a freak for mobile phones in addition to electronic and digital gadgets, i’ll definately buy myself one of these.  Slim, slick, classy, with all the functions of an iPod and a mobile phone.  If anyone is wondering what I want for my birthday next year…look no further. 😉

Apple Phone 1

Apple Phone 2

Apple Phone 3