Application iPhone iPod Review

Review of Byline for the iPhone

Update: With the 1.0.1 update to Byline Phantomfish has added the ability to mark individual new items as read/undread by swiping across them in the list, they have added a share button, and a “Mark All as Read” function (really big deal to me).

I was really hoping that Google would release a Google Reader client that runs native on the iPhone but unfortunately that may not happen. But, Byline is here to fill that void.

Byline is a pretty simple reader but what makes it great is that it syncs to Google Reader and caches items locally to be read offline and when you get back to an area with a connection Byline will sync those changes back to Google Reader.

Byline will even download the full webpage linked to by the RSS items instead of just what is enclosed in the RSS feed, that means you can choose to have Byline download pages from your new items, starred items, and notes (more on that later) to be viewed offline (full web pages).

Now back to the notes feature. Notes allows you to use a bookmarklet in your browser to save a web page like a bookmark but leave a little note with it, that of course is saved on Google’s servers. Byline will look at those notes and treat them just like items in RSS feeds so you can basically save any web page you want to Byline to be viewed offline.

Byline will also append a badge on the icon in the homescreen with the number of unread items. Here is where my issues come in, by default Byline will only grab the 25 most recent items and only 25 items so if you (like me) have about 500-1,000 new items a day from RSS feeds the dock will only show 25 and (from what I can see) it is only possible to cache 25 new unread items on the phone. Here’s an example, I am about to get on an airplane but I’d like to read all my RSS feeds from my iPhone while on the plane, I open up Byline and wait for items to be downloaded. I put the phone in airplane mode and get on the plane, but when you open up Byline it will only show you the 25 most recent items when it synced last meaning those other 475-975 items are unreadable until I get internet access again.

I’m sure these problems will be fixed with upcoming updates to Byline but it is still pretty frustrating. The other issue I have is the price (which I’ve mentioned in my review of Enigmo) $9.99 is too much to ask for this application, it really should only cost between $2-5. I don’t know if this is just developers testing the waters to see how people react to applications but boy is it frustrating to not be able to test an application out without paying the full price, in other words if there was a demo version available for free charging $9.99 might not be such a terrible thing.

But, if you spend a lot of time reading RSS feeds and Google Reader is your feed reader of choice this is a great app for you, especially if you are using an iPod Touch or spend a lot of time without cell service.

Byline – $9.99

More screenshots after the jump

Cell Phones Photos

OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner is Now Shipping, Unboxing Pics

Everybody’s second favorite open source handset the OpenMoko FreeRunner is now shipping and unboxing pics have begun to show up online.

I’m still very worried that the OpenMoko project is going to be destroyed by Google’s Android project. The OpenMoko project may not necessarily have anything over Android in terms of features but when it comes to being the most open I fell like OpenMoko has that in the bag.

More Unboxing Pics

Application Gaming iPhone iPod Review

Enigmo For the iPhone Review

I’ve spent almost as much time with Enigmo as I have with Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, and that’s a lot of time. So if you don’t already know Enigmo is a physics based game where you use different pieces to bounce, slide, or deflect water droplets around obstacles and into their corresponding container.

It is a fairly simple game to grasp but as you get up to the higher levels they seem to get more and more complicated adding more obstacles and different colored water droplets.

Before experiencing this game on the iPhone I did spend some time with the Mac version, which surprisingly enough is practically the exact same game. Except in the iPhone version you use your tapping and pinching to move around the screen while as on the Mac version you use your mouse to do the same thing.

There are 8 different pieces used to make the water droplets go where you want to and it is pretty easy to understand how they work and what they do. Using your finger to drag the object around or selecting it and using the orange circle that appears around it to rotate it felt very natural.

One great feature Enigmo has (which I wish was added to Super Monkey Ball) is the ability to save your game after every level (in Super Monkey Ball it saves after 10 or so levels).

The game is very fun and I actually suggest it to anyone but I do have two problems with it. Being precise while moving and object or rotating it is a little difficult and sometimes I found myself having to zoom out and pull my finger away to make the orange circles larger so that I could do those precise rotations but what happened then is that the orange circle would obstruct my view of the water droplets and where they are going.

The only other issue I have with this game is its price ($9.99). I really think that someone needs to talk to these developers about the price, I’ve already spent $85 in the app store and thats about $45 then I wanted too initially. The reason I spent that much is because there are so many applications that cost me $9.99. I think that Apple’s game Texas Hold ’em ($4.99) has the right idea of being priced a little bit lower. I think Apple had the right idea way back when they first introduced games for the iPod, each one was priced at $4.99 which felt very fair compared to the amount of time I actually spend with the game. If I can beat the game in 2 hours I don’t want to spend $5 per hour on it, that seems a little steep to me.

Enigmo – $9.99

More screenshots after the jump

Gaming iPhone iPod

EA Releasing New iPhone Games and Existing Game Updates

EA has announced some iPhone game upgrades and more games are coming soon. The three games that have already been released by EA are Scrabble, Tetris, and Sudoku. Scrabble will be getting an upgrade to play multiplayer over Wifi and accelerometer features which will let you shake up the letters on your tray by shaking your phone.

Tetris will be getting a new feature which will let you draw the upcoming piece right on your screen (your guess is as good as mine).

EA will be releasing Need for Speed (excited), Tiger Woods 09 (I hope there isn’t any accelerometer swinging because that could be terrible), Monopoly, and Spore Origins.

I haven’t seen any dates as to when these other games will be released or when the updates are coming but I would guess you could expect some of them within a week or two.


Media Microsoft

Xbox 360 Getting Netflix Streaming This Fall

The Xbox 360 will be getting an update that will allow users who also have a Netflix account to stream movies and TV shows to their televisions through the Xbox 360.

Users with a Gold Xbox Live account will also be able to share your Netflix movies with friends via your Xbox Live party so you can watch a movie/TV show all together.

I’m not sure if this is going to hurt sales of the Netflix Roku player but I would assume that a lot of the people who would buy the Roku player probably already have an Xbox 360. I know I wouldn’t buy a Roku player now, but then again I don’t really want to buy an Xbox 360 either, I would much rather have a PS3 for the Blu-ray and backwards compatibility (if I spring for the $500 version) (I’ve owned a PS2 for a few years and have a number of games for it that I wouldn’t want to get rid of and getting rid of the PS2 would be nice).

So there you all go, the update is set to be released this Fall and hopefully Netflix will spend that time increasing the number of “Watch it Now” movies.


Apple Application Cell Phones Gaming iPhone iPod

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D Review

A day after the App Store came out I picked up Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D for $9.99. I was a huge fan of this series on the Playstation and had high hopes for the game on the iPhone. Unlike other racing games on the iPhone you don’t have to hold down your finger on the screen to continue driving the game drives at top speed for you, which is quite nice. You obviously turn your kart by turning the iPhone from left to right, tapping the left or right side of the screen will make you jump, tapping the bottom of the screen will engage the break or put your kart into reverse, and tapping a weapon will use it.

The game has a total of 6 racers, 8 weapons, and 12 tracks. But, you won’t get bored very quickly because you can play different cups which is a set of 4 tracks back to back with a points system to determine the winner. You can also play in a story mode which puts you in races with specific missions such as collect 10 fruit and finish the race before your opponents, along with time trials and quick races.

The controls felt very natural and seemed to be much easier to pick up and play compared to other games in the App Store.

The races are very fun and there is a good number of racers to unlock (I’ve only have 4/6 right now), the missions are just challenging enough making them beatable but only with enough tries (usually 2-3 which surprisingly doesn’t get borring or too frustrating).

The only thing the game seems to be missing is a two player mode. Although I wouldn’t even be able to play a two player mode (since I don’t know anyone with an iPod Touch or iPhone) it would make the game feel much more complete.

The graphics were great and remind me of the Game Boy Advance (which in the grand scheme of things is pretty good for a device that didn’t even have games until a year after it’s release).

Overall Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D is a great game with several hours of fun. The game is a great value since a game with the same features could sell for $25 or more if made for the Nintendo DS or PSP.

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D – $9.99

More game images after the jump

Apple iPhone

Downgrade From Pre-Release iPhone 2.0 to Official 2.0

Two days ago I posted a link to an ipsw file that many used to upgrade their iPhones to the 2.0 software (I did as well). But, that version of the 2.0 software was actually meant for use on an iPhone 3G not on a first generation iPhone, you see iPhone 1,2 is actually a model number, a model numer for the iPhone 3G. The first generation iPhone has a model number of 1,1 so follow the steps below to downgrade to the official and supported version of firmware 2.0.

  1. Sync your iPhone with iTunes to make sure all your data is backed up.
  2. Download iPhone1,1_2.0_5A347_Restore.ipsw, you should get a single file but if your browser renames it to a .zip file simply rename it to “.ipsw”
  3. In iTunes click “Check for Updates” while holding the Option key (Shift key on Windows).
  4. Choose the firmware file downloaded from step two
  5. Wait about 15 minutes for your iPhone to be downgraded

Although I haven’t heard of any issues using the 3G version on a non-3G iPhone it is still a pretty good idea to go through this process and use the official non-3G version of firmware 2.0.


Graphics Cards Nvidia

All G84 and G86 Mobile Chips Defective

Nvidia has announced that “significant quantities” of previous generation GPUs and mobile communications processors were defective and that it would take a $250M charge against earnings to repair and replace affected chips.

Nvidia didn’t say specifically what chips were faulty or how many are faulty but according to The Inquirer every single G84 and G86 GPU is affected. Both chips share an ASIC and the core design suffers from a heat related issue.

This is a pretty big deal for Nvidia and I’m worried that this combined with the recent release of ATIs 4800 series of graphics cards will end up with them taking a back seat to ATI again.

“Multiple analysts also told us that NV specifically told them that this problem is confined only to HP. I wonder why Dell is having failures in huge numbers for their XPS lines and replacing them with ATI parts? Why is Asus having similar problems? Go check the message boards, any notebooks that came with G84s and G86s have boards filled with dead machine problems. Most of these, especially on the NV forums are being quashed and removed by admins, so act quickly and take screenshots of your posts.

Basically, NV seems to have told each analyst a highly personalised version of the story, and stonewalls everyone else who asks. Why? The magnitude of the problem is huge. If Dell and HP hold their feet to the fire, anyone want to bet that $200 million won’t cover it?”

The Inquirer

Hard Drives Storage

Seagate Announces 1.5TB Hard Drive

Yesterday Seagate announced the Barracuda 7200.11, a 1.5TB hard drive. The largest 3.5″ hard drive available, the drive is 7200RPM drive. It isn’t exactly the most power effecient drive but it sure does get the job done if you need to store that much data.

The drive has 4 platters and uses a Serial ATA 3Gb/second interface and is capable of sustaining 120MB/s. The drive will be release in August 2008.

There is no word on pricing yet but hopefully they won’t be charging too much for this drive. Hard drives keep getting bigger and bigger at a pretty rapid pace, I remember when a 250GB hard drive was considered big.

Actual hard drive not pictured

Apple Application Gaming iPhone iPod

App Store and Applications First Impressions

So as you know, if you read my post earlier, the iPhone firmware 2.0 was made available and the App Store is now open for business. I spent $14 in the App Store today and got 6 apps.

Mobile Flickr – $2.99
Pretty simple application, allows you to upload photos to Flickr from your iPhone and browse photos from Flickr. I’m probably going to be using this fairly often. the fact that I can upload photos from my iPhone is quite nice and I won’t have to upload them later after syncing back to iPhoto.

People – Free
Search for phone numbers by address or by name. You can also search for information including address and name based on a phone number. Super handy if you get calls from numbers you don’t recognize fairly frequently. (More images after the jump below)

Apple Application iPhone

Installing iPhone Firmware 2.0 Right Now UPDATE

Currently I am installing iPhone firmware 2.0, I downloaded it from here, remember that according to the knowledge base article it will erase all of your iPhones data, so sync your iPhone before updating. To install all you do is option+click on “check for updates” and then choose the ipsw file. Be sure you have iTunes 7.7.

It takes quite a while, I’ve been updating for 10 minutes already and it still isn’t done so, be patient. I’ve already downloaded a couple of applications from the App Store so I’ll be spending quite a bit of time playing with the apps that look interesting and possibly doing some reviews over the weekend.

Update: I just restored the settings to my iPhone and everything seems to be working just fine. I have the App Store and a Contacts application on my homescreen now. It looks great.

Computers Mobile Notebooks PC

Eee PC 901 Available for Pre-Order on Amazon for $399

Amazon has just made an “Asus Eee PC 900 16G” available for pre-order on their website. Well, if you know anything about your subnotebooks you will now that this actually isn’t the 900 but is the 901.

I guess Amazon is having trouble keeping their Eee model names straight (I am as well). Amazon also has 901’s available on their website but they are listed as $599.99 instead. I don’t know if I would suggesting getting the one listed as a 900 if you have your heart set on a 901 but the option is available to you.