Apple TV and Roku

8 Dec

After purchasing Apple TV for my husband as a Christmas gift last year, it’s taken me some time to come up with an adequate review. Given a gentle nudge by some recently asked questions regarding Apple TV and other streaming devices, it seems now is the time.

Apple TV is the hands-down choice for those Apple fanatics out there.  It’s got a very low price point (for an Apple product) and works well with your other iOS devices (and the Cloud!).  We often rent movies from iTunes and have even purchased some on occasion.  The kids like to watch YouTube videos (even ones they make themselves) on the big screen in the den.  They find it very satisfying to see the end result of their creative process on the family TV.  Steve Jobs would be proud to see the intersection between creativity and technology going on in our house.  Can you tell I’m reading the new Steve Jobs book this week?

That being said, I’m going to post a link to a review of the AppleTV and Roku comparison that was posted on CNET a few weeks ago and hope that it offers a good analysis of both systems.

Check it out here.

Apple TV

Apple TV (so you can see size)

Roku-a smidge bigger…but not much.

I have had many questions recently regarding what the “best” way to watch movies is.  Obviously, after much research I chose the Apple TV for our household.  The reasoning was heavily skewed by the fact that I am a huge Apple fan.  I am very pleased with every other Apple product I own and I’m a strong supporter of the company.  Apple products work well with other Apple products, and this integration is very effective in our house.   I guess you could say I’m a loyalist.  I do think there are some advantages to Roku for many users, especially if you aren’t much of an Apple user.

Any Roku users out there?  Please comment on advantages/disadvantages.  I haven’t heard many disadvantages at all from the users I know personally.  What about Apple TV?  Anyone else have one?

Smartphones and parenting: friends or foes?

29 Jul

For those raising children in this technologically savvy generation, there are many pitfalls to maneuver regarding all the gadgetry and electronic etiquette.  No one wants their child to be illiterate in the ways of the tech-world, but unplugging your child can sometimes seem like a constant battle.  My own just-turned-12 year old is often on her MacBook making videos, browsing YouTube and video-chatting with her friends.  I realize this is the modern day equivalent of me dragging a zillion mile long phone cord and closing it in my door to chat with my friends for hours on end, yet still I want to unplug her occasionally.  The main issue I fear is that so many children will be so used to the virtual world, that they will have difficulty dealing with real people.  My daughter is active on sports teams and various other activities, yet still…I worry.  However, the plus side is that she is absolutely gifted in the art of movie-making and she has a very keen eye for photography which we are continuing to enourage her with.  Technology offers many advantages in both of those areas and is certainly a fine hobby.  Many people even turn these passions into their career.

Parents are also finding technology to be useful in daily life with their children.  My daughter and I browse books together to see what she would like to read next, we look at recipes to see if there is anything we should add to our dinner menu, we look up interesting things she hears about at school, and we look up different places we’d like to visit and explore.  My appointments are all in my iPhone and on my computer and our family photos are also on my computer.  We make a Shutterfly album each year, displaying the coolest pictures from the adventures of the past twelve months.  We watch her favorite shows together at our convenience, so they don’t interrupt all the fun outdoor activities we love to do.  We watch snowboarding videos to see how to ride better on the mountain.  We use homework practice sites to help her skills.  So yes, it is amazing to have access to all of the Internet at your fingertips.

And yet, I often have her leave hers home and keep mine off, just so we are not disturbed when we are out enjoying the very real, gorgeous nature all around us.  And mine is almost always on silent when she is with me, so I’m not distracted by it. This has also come back to haunt me, when my husband tries to call and I never answer the phone.  ;)  How about you?  Is your smartphone friend or foe?

Can books and eReaders coexist?

28 Jul

 

 

With the recent news regarding the closure  of Borders bookstores, many bibliophiles credit the eReader with the downfall of the popular chain.  In our tiny city in upstate NY, we are faced with the closure of our Borders bookstore AND the upcoming closure of a truly unique, brick and mortar bookshop in our downtown area.  This leaves our community with just Walmart, Sam’s Club and Target when looking for books.  Excellent.  NOT.  AdkGadgetGirl is very passionate about supporting small, locally owned businesses and was crushed when books (possibly her first true love) became much more difficult to get.  Also, many people who buy books on an eReader, continue to buy hard copy books.  Since the cost is the same, people are trending toward using their iPads for other applications and the occasional ebook.  However, apps remain the biggest draw on the iPad, indicating that books aren’t the main reason people are buying iPads.  Kindles however, remain primarily used for books.  So although this has hurt the book industry, Borders demise was not brought down by eReaders alone.  There are several contributing factors.  One of the biggest being Amazon.com.  Since Amazon is based online and doesn’t have to pay for the mall rent or building space such as Borders, their overhead is lower and they can charge less for books.  So, many people browse a bookstore and then purchase online.  It’s sad, for sure.  Additionally, when Borders made the decision to carry CDs and DVDs, it turned out to be a foolish one, from a business perspective.

A former Borders employee and Engadget commenter says,

“Borders made a big commitment to selling CDs & DVDs — large sections of the stores were devoted to this content in the 90s and early 00s. New stores were designed and built in an effort to give multimedia a large segment of the store space.

“In the end, Borders has failed because [its] stores got too big and the demand for CDs and DVDs dropped — there was just no way to pay the bills.”

So ultimately, it’s just very unfortunate for all of us, but we can’t place all of the blame on eReaders.  And since most of us love technology, it’s not going to go away.  We just need to learn how to adapt.  How about including some sort of digital end in our bookstores?  It’s working for Barnes and Noble.  They have Nook kiosks in their stores and employees there to assist. Bookstores are ultimately READING stores-the format should be adaptable.

If you still have a small locally owned bookstore in your area, please do support it.  And as always, READ, READ, READ!  Check out the 3/50 Project on how to keep small, local businesses up and running.

 

 

 

 

Time to get a move on!

27 Jul

So the good news is…I’m investing more time into my AdkGadgetGirl blog and FaceBook page, since I’m actually leaving my current job as a scientist to do more techie-related freelance jobs and to teach at our local university.  Because of that, I am currently (as in, right now as I type) developing the AdkGadgetGirl logo that has existed only in my head for so long.  In keeping with that and some previous promises, I will be incorporating that logo into some AdkGadgetGirl gear.  Of course t-shirts and bumper stickers, but I’m thinking an iPhone case would be an ultra cool accessory too!  And maybe I will offer them up as prizes for special contests on the blog and FB page.  What do you think?

Nintendo Gaming-Introducing the 3DS.

12 Aug

Mid-June 2010 was a big reveal for Nintendo at the LA Conference.  They debuted their new Zelda game  and unveiled the Nintendo 3DS.  For those already amply impressed with DSi, there was probably a little bit of heartbreak over the fact that next spring might be time to already retire that model and get your own 3D version.  3D without glasses mind you!  Now Nintendo isn’t the only company with their eye on the 3D gaming market, as Sony is releasing a similar handheld, but Nintendo has long been the king of the gaming world so it tends to make a bigger splash with its’ intro.  (Watch the press conference here).

If you go to Nintendo’s official page regarding the 3DS here, you can see what all the hype is about.  So far, it seems that the 3D feature is basically the only new feature worth mentioning.  The 3D feature will be on a slider, so you can completely turn it off if you so choose, or manipulate it to varying degrees depending on your gaming preference.

The official body design and styling is not announced yet, although the model they are using as a demo, sure looks like a regular DS or DSi.  The color selection appears very limited as well, with just three colors, teal, red and grey/graphite.  What happened to the pinks and purples to rope in the younger and tween girls?  Not sure.  Maybe they weren’t such good sellers in the DSi?  What do you think?  Will you be buying one of these for yourself or someone else, come next March?  What would you like them to change and what would you like to see in this new model?

Polaroid and Lady Gaga…

6 Aug

Lady Gaga loves her some tech…even retro-style.  See here.

And look at this clever bloggers alternative to the pricey iPad stands Apple offers on their site.

iPad Post 4 of 4-Finale!

6 Aug

Glad to have the iPad series wrapping up and now maybe I can get to posting more frequently.

I am incredibly happy with my iPad.  That is the overall conclusion.  I never thought I would say this, but there are lots of times that I really am happy to have books in an e-reader format.  I love having several books at the ready, without taking up that much space.  I tend to buy a ridiculous amount of books, so it’s nice that I can buy the ones I only want to read once and not take up the valuable real estate of shelves in our home.  On that note, I believe a regular e-reader of any type would suffice for this.  The viewing quality is fantastic, but I have to admit to reading with a blanket over my head on the boat last weekend.  And I once overheated the iPad.  It was completely fine and just shut itself down.  I put it in a cool location and it was fine, when I picked it back up a few hours later.  I’m not sure if this problem exists with all ereaders.  Any thoughts?

I’ve heard great things about the Sony Reader Touch edition ($169.99 at Borders.com) and I have friends who really enjoy their Kindles.  So I believe those also to be smart purchases on the e-reading front.  As a matter of fact, my favorite app for downloading books is the Amazon Kindle app for iPad.  Easiest to use, best selection, no glitches so far.

I truly believe in my case an iPad was the best choice.  I didn’t want something primarily for the eReader purpose.  I wanted it for the apps.  Sounds simple enough, but that was the primary purchasing motivator.  Yet, now that I have it, I have found it useful for reading, FaceBooking, emailing, cooking, updating my blogs.  I really love the cooking apps and once propped up on a stand in the kitchen, it makes a stellar “cookbook”.  The kids now say “Did you make this with an iPad recipe?” and they’ve loved everything I’ve made from the iPad.  Epicurious is great, AllRecipes and Betty Crocker, also have apps that have made my time in the kitchen even better.

Apple has been great about releasing updates and the syncs have been seamless since I upgraded to SnowLeopard.  I have great fun editing photos with apps such as ColorSplash  and my friends have all commented how much they love my photo editing.

What do you think?  Does anyone have any other readers?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions and why you will or won’t have an ereader.

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