Fans of technology love the release of new gadgets, especially touch-screen, 3D capable, SDK-toting mobile app powerhouses which also incidentally, play music. Wait,outside of mobile phones, there is currently, only one device like that, the iPod touch. Sure, a slew of lookalikes have emerged from China and will continue in single-line forever over distant horizons. Some are actually quite good. But, aside from them, there have been too few wannabes. Creative’s Zii Egg gets honourable mention, but considering its market potential, there won’t be a proper iPod touch rip-off competitor until Microsoft’s Zune HD actually hits shelves.
Impressive as the iPod Touch is to us fans, it is even more impressive to Apple’s (AAPL) dearest enemies. Microsoft have struggled to market the somewhat lackluster Zune which is otherwise, a great PMP with solid roots. The next time around, however, the Redmond giant will be sure to mark its territory in the handheld market with the introduction of the ZuneHD, a device that says “me too” but in an impressively threatening voice.
Not sure about the naming scheme here, but Dell have something to show the world. Is it a big Zune HD? Is it a strange Ultrasone headphone product? Is it an iPod touch killer, or is it gunning for the Mac Mini. Wired think it is a Mac Mini killer. I sort of agree. What Dell have going is great pricing – make no mistake. For 230$, you can get a candy-coloured wannabe … something with Ubuntu and for the top end version, spend just over 808$ for a garish, dust-friendly plastic box which lacks optical audio in or out. Still, you get eSata, and HDMI ports along with the 2 USB ports and as is par for PC products, no Firewire. But in the end, it looks and smells like a Dell and if that is up your alley, head to their Zino HD page. For those prefer Apple’s cleaner industrial lines and smarter marketing, the Mac Mini might still be for you.
The Zune HD is going to kill the iPod Touch! Steve Jobs is cowering under a back-office table! Or is he? Will the launch of the much-hyped Zune HD have significant impact on Apple’s virtual monopoly on the Portable Media Player market? Let’s take a look.
The other big American OS/Software/Sometimes Hardware company’s new and highly anticipated Zune HD just got a laying on of hands by Gizmodo’s Brian Lam. As per interface, responsiveness and looks, the Zune HD has all in spades and sports a minimalist/industrial GUI design more reminiscent of Apple than of the horrid incongruence that often disgraces Microsoft products.
Other than pictures, movies and music that are seen in this brief hands-on, the Zune HD will play games and act as a bridge between several Microsoft markets, in particular, the XBox. Apple haters, tech gurus and pundits – get ready for some fun discussions and I’m quite sure, lynchings.
Microsoft’s CEO, dancing Steve Ballmer mentioned back in September 2008, that the iPhone would fail in the next 5 years. It is not the only silly thing to come out of his mouth, but certainly one of his best hits. A cursory glance at his reasoning reveals the following issues that the iPhone faces:
- Pricing – it is currently too expensive at 500$ (though I am quite sure you get them for under 300$ and in some cases 200$).
- insupportable in emerging markets – India and China (emerging markets? China makes the market computer for Jobs’ sake!). According to Ballmer, the most popular phones in those countries cost 25$ to build. Now wait, are we talking about smartphones here or are we talking about phones now?
The HD iPhone has been added into the grind as rumour mills expect new Apple mobile hardware in the next few months. According to Phonenews, Apple are clawing in their current generation iDevice-compatible AV cable accessories. Vendors are asked to liquidate Apple’s shitty shifty prior iDevice AV cables that harbour encryption chips which as of OS 2.0, disallow cheaper 3rd party options. The new cables are purported to allow both composite and component outputs which older versions did not.
Whatever Apple thinks, they aren’t the first to open up the market to indie developers. Probably one of the first and simplest ways to date to get into the business of creating games (be it adventure ones) is still AGS – Adventure Games Studio – where even newbie developers are able to create games similar to the 90s Sierra titles without knowing one bit of programming. Quite a number of quality titles have been released based on the engine, including some commercial ones that have been well received by the critics. And now it seems the engine might finally find it’s way to the iDevice, bringing with it vast amounts of high-quality adventure games, thanks to Daniel Alexander and his Xna Adventure Game Engine.
While the iPod touch remains a very capable multipurpose PMP, it lacks a few hardware features that some fans crave. Radio is of course a common Apple dropout along with Bluetooth. However, the PMP digital camera made infamous in the likes of Sony’s Hi-MD players may finally be ready for launch in the iPod Touch and even the Nano. The significance of this rumour is of course not without its irony as while Sony’s next PSP may be more iPod-like, the iPod is sure to be more Sony-like.