Saturday, November 30, 2013

Updated: Apple iTV release date, news and rumours

Updated: Apple iTV release date, news and rumours

Updated: Apple iTV release date, news and rumours

Apple iTV rumours: what you need to know

We love the Full HD Apple TV box, but Apple really isn't so sure: the company has seemed more interested in getting iPads into your living room than its Apple TV box.

Apple says the Apple TV is a hobby, but the company is thinking bigger. Much, much bigger: it wants to sell you the entire TV set, not a little box beneath it.

In an early 2012 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted again at the release of something bigger and better than the current Apple TV. Check out our in-depth look at How Apple's television will really work or read on for all the latest rumours.

Cut to the chase
What is it?
A TV, but with added Appleness
When is it out? Probably late 2014
What will it cost?
An awful lot, we expect

Is Apple iTV confirmed?

Cook says: "With Apple TV, however, despite the barriers in [the TV set top box] market, for those of us who use it, we've always thought there was something there. And that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, then we might find something that was larger.

"For those people that have it right now, the customer satisfaction is off the charts. But we need something that could go more main market for it to be a serious category."

However, it is possible that he meant a set top box, and rumours have continued to rumble on that Apple is in talk s with US cable providers and more content providers over a new version of its existing Apple TV box.

FutTv : SNcCn61A339dr

Stronger hints came in a December 2012 Tim Cook NBC interview. "When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years," Cook told Williams. "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."

Apple isn't the only one dropping big hints either - manufacturer Foxconn had to refute reports in late May 2012 that it had begun to produce the Apple iTV after a story emerged quoting chief executive, Terry Gua, as saying Foxconn was "making preparations for iTV."

More speculation citing Foxconn involvement emerged in December 2012 and then again in late March 2013 and July 2013, especially as the company has decided to move into TVs.

But then in late 2013, analysts suggested the project had been postponed in favor of developing the iWatch and an Apple A7-toting Apple TV box.

Here are all the rumours and speculation surrounding the Apple iTV, which some have also claimed may end up with the surely unlikely name of the Apple iPanel.

Apple iTV release date

Most rumours predicted a 2013 Apple iTV release date but as we head into the Christmas silly season, this is clearly not happening.

Analysts in Japan predicted in October 2013 that Apple would in fact ship 55-inch and 65-inch 4K Ultra HD TVs in the fourth quarter of 2014 which sounds a lot more realistic.

The N ew York Times says that price, not technology, is the problem: Apple is waiting for the cost of large LCD panels to fall further before building iTVs. But we're pretty doubtful we'll see a new Apple TV or iTV device in Autumn 2013.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster suggested in November 2012 that the iTV would come out a year later, in November of 2013. Wrong. Earlier in 2012 Munster was calling for Apple to announce the Apple television in December, then the first half of 2013, but he was proved totally wrong before changing his estimate to 2014. Maybe right.

According to Market Intelligence Center, David Einhorn from Greenlight Capital told his investors that he believed Apple would come out with its next "blockbuster product" - the iTV - soon. Wrong.

In December 2012 Wall Street Journal sources said that various TV prototypes have been on the company's slate for a number of years.

Apple iTV design

A report in mid-2013 from Cult of Mac claimed one of their contacts saw a working prototype of the Apple TV. The report claimed that Siri and iSight will feature (so face and voice recognition then), while the design is similar to that of an Apple Cinema Display.

In August 2013, Patently Apple found a patent that included a fused glass process for housing, a bit similar to that found on the iPhone 4S, being used on various Apple devices, including iPhones and iPods, in the future.

The Telegraph says that "sources within the company" say that Jeff Robbin, the man who helped create the iPod, is leading the team. Apple has seemingly denied rumours that it is working with French designer Philippe Starck. Remember when he worked with Microsoft on a mo use?

However, it appears that Starck was actually working on another project, a yacht, with Steve Jobs before his death.

On 13 May 2011, we reported that Apple is rumoured to be in talks to buy TV manufacturer Loewe. AppleInsider wrote that talks have entered the advanced stages and Loewe is expected to make a decision on Apple's offer within the next week.

Apple iTV specifications

Australian tech site Smarthouse says that the Apple iTV will come in three sizes, including 32-inch and 55-inch models. That's quite a range!

Smarthouse isn't usually the go-to site for Apple rumours, but its report echoes similar claims by respected Apple analyst Gene Munster, who told the recent Future of Media conference that Apple will make its TV in a range of sizes.

"The smallest one will be 42 inches in size, followed by a 52 inches one and a 60 inches iTV (coincidence or not, these exact sizes are available on Sharp TVs, too)," said Gozmorati. This information was repeated in several similar stories.

Rumours also continue to circulate that Samsung could be heavily involved in the iTV project, not least because of features such as TV Discovery, enabling you to easily find programming.

An early 2013 patent, reported on by Macworld, describes "a sound system that could be launched as part of its iTV. The intelligen t system could determine where a user is in a room, and if he or she was not within the optimum range, the processor could modify the audio output, says the application. It could also adjust based on which way the user is facing, and the environment that the user is in," Clever stuff.

Apple iTV 4K?

New rumours from the ever-questionable Digitimes suggest we could be seeing a 3,840 x 2,160 display from Apple. Apparently LG would manufacture the display. We'd be amazed if this one was true, but the rumours aren't exactly going away and reached fever pitch in July 2013. See Is Apple eyeing LG's Ultra HD p anels for its own iTV set?

Apple iTV operating system

As with the Apple TV, any iTV is likely to run iOS, albeit in slightly disguised form. Compatibility with other iOS devices is a given: current Apple TVs already accept video streamed via AirPlay and access shared iTunes libraries. We'll be amazed if the iTV doesn't get apps.

Expect Apple iTV and Apple TV to work more like iOS does on the iPad; the newest iOS 6 Beta for the Apple TV enables app icons to be moved around the homescreen just like on the iPhone and iPad.

That has led some observers to conclude that the rumoured App Store for Apple's favourite 'hobby project' might be on the way sooner rather than later.

Apple iTV and iCloud

Steve Jobs told his biographer: "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

According to one source which claims to have seen the device, the new TV has Siri and FaceTime.

Apple iTV remote control

The iTV will come with an ordinary remote control, and will be controllable with iPhones, iPod touches and iPads, but the real remote control will be Siri.

Apple's voice recognition system will be the heart of the new Apple TV, enabling you to choose channels and control the TV's functions with voice alone. That means " the simplest user interface you could imagine" is voice.

However, according to a new patent filed in March 2012, Apple has come up with the design for an advanced universal remote that would also be compatible with your iPhone and iPad.

But could Apple also be thinking more about games? Some sources say so, with an official joypad-type device possibly on the cards to work alongside Apple TV.

Apple iTV AirPlay mirroring

After AirPlay mirroring from Mac to Apple TV was present in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, it's not a great leap to suggest th at the Apple iTV could mirror the display of your Mac or iPad wirelessly too. AirPlay mirroring is now 1080p with the new iPad and new Apple TV.

When a prototype was reportedly 'seen' it did feature AirPlay.

Apple iTV programmes

While the iTV will get content from iTunes and iCloud, it's not going to be completely separate from current TV broadcasters: Munster says that you'll still need a cable TV subscription and decoder because Apple doesn't have enough content. However, the August 2013 rumours suggest that Apple has given up on cable providers, instead opting to negotiate directly with content partners such as ESPN, HBO and Viacom.

We're not sure whether it would play nicely with Freeview and Freeview HD here in the UK, but perhaps a DVB-T compatible unit will arrive as part of a second generation.

Les Moonves, who is CEO at CBS, says he was previously the r ecipient of a pitch from Steve Jobs regarding his network's participation in a subscription-based service, but turned him down. Apple is also rumoured to be talking about getting partners involved for movie streaming.

His reasoning? Moonves says he was worried about damaging the network's existing revenue streams through broadcast and cable television.

The main question is whether Apple will open the door for third-party content, like the BBC iPlayer, Sky Go and 4oD and other apps we've seen on connected TV platforms. These may well arrive with apps - the Apple TV SDK will pull on the iTV ecosystem and we're expecting apps to be available for Apple TV too.

Mind you, it's also been claimed that Apple will seek to cut traditional TV providers out of the content loop.

Apple iTV display

March, June and December 2012 rumours pointed at Sharp being the manufacturing partner. SlashGear says work on components is already under way. In mid April , Sharp announced it had begun production of 32-inch HI-DPI LCD panels at its Kameyama Plant No. 2 - could these be the panels destined for the Apple iTV?

Apple contractor Foxconn's parent company has made a rather large investment in Sharp - does this indicate something we wonder?

Both companies were apparently working together to 'test' TV designs in the December 2012 rumours.

In February 2013 it became clear that Apple had hired James (Jueng-jil Lee, a former senior researcher at LG. According to the OLED Association, he had been working on a printed AMOLED TV display.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Lee lists his role at LG as "OLED Technol ogy Development for TV Application" and he said he was "developing the Soluble Technology (RGB Type) for OLED TV application at LG Display". LG continues to be rumoured to be involved.

If the iTV does appear, it won't leave manufacturers quaking in their boots. That's according to Samsung's Chris Moseley who told Pocket-Lint in early February 2012 that the firm isn't overly concerned with what Apple launches if it decides to enter the TV market

"We've not seen what they've done but what we can say is that they don't have 10,000 people in R&D in the vision category," he says.

"They don't have the best scaling engine in the world and they don't have world renowned picture quality that has been awarded more than anyone else."

Apple iTV price

Gene Munster reckons that the iTV will be twice the price of a similarly sized TV. Ouch. However, new March 2012 rumours point at a subsidised launch - courtesy of various partners.

Apple iTV gaming and apps

Although most of the rumours so far have been about the hardware involved in the iTV, gaming may be a major focus of the new device. Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted in mid-April at the HQ of Valve Software, the company behind gaming platform Steam. Some rumours are drawing more from this meeting, saying Apple could be producing a Kinect-style gesture-based console. But this is likely to be part and parcel of the iTV.

Will Apple iTV do well?

With smart TVs taking over the TV market, analysts reckon that the time is ripe for an Apple iTV to be launched. Smart TV adoption grew from 12% in 2011 to 25% in 2012, according to a new report from TDG.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Mini Review: Buffalo Linkstation 421

Review: Mini Review: Buffalo Linkstation 421

Review: Mini Review: Buffalo Linkstation 421

Having a NAS (Network Attached Storage) and getting it installed and set up to keep your important files safe and sound has become easier and easier throughout the years. You no longer need to be an expert to set one up at home, or even have a dedicated IT department work on it in the office.

The Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is Buffalo's latest consumer-friendly yet robust NAS device. Unlike products such as the Western Digital My Book Live Duo 4TB the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE doesn't come with hard drives preinstalled. Not only does this keep the initial cost of the NAS device down, it can offer you some other advantages.

You can choose the speed and size of the drives you want to use (the LS421DE supports up to 8TB over two drives), and if you have spare hard drives lying around then you can save a bit of money. If not, you can at least shop around for some competitively priced hard drives. It also means that it is easy to swap and replace hard drives for further data protection, or if a drive fails.

Whilst shipping without hard drives makes this slightly less user friendly than the My Passport range, it's still far more welcoming than some of the more purely business-orientated NAS devices such as the Synology DiskStation DS411 or the Iomega StorCenter ix2. The Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE's closest competitor is the D-Link DNS-320L, a well designed and user-friendly NAS device that combines ease of use with plenty of advanced features.

The body of the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is compact, yet sturdy, with a sleek minimalist design which would look just as at home in the living room as in an office. Two LED lights keep you informed of the hard drive status, and a USB 3.0 port is a handy addition for quickly backing up to an external hard drive for added protection. At the back is another USB port (this time just USB 2.0) and a single Gigabit Ethernet port for connecting to your network.

There's also a Kensington lock hole for fastening your drives to a table or floor. It means that thieves can't just come and pic k up the NAS device and walk away with it, though if they are targeting your data they will still be able to open up the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE and remove the drives â€" as there is no way to lock the drives. If you or your business holds data that is more valuable than any device it is stored on, then you'll want to look for a device with better security.

Installing and setting up the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE was very easy. The front of the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is easily removed and the plastic holders for the drives slide out with ease. Once the drive were installed and the Synology DiskStation DS411 turned on, it detected and formatted the drives. We connected it to our test network, and used the included software to locate and configure the NAS. It was fairly easy and straightforward to set up both drives into a RAID 1 array, with information detail exactly what the process is, and the benefits. Overall the s oftware and interface for configuring the drive was straightforward and user-friendly.

The Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE has a 1.2GHz Marvell Armada 370 processor and 512MB of DDR3 RAM. This might not be as powerful as more business-orientated devices like the Synology DiskStation DS411, but it still holds up well with fast data transfers. Averaging 107.90MB/s reads and 65MB/s write speeds. Not the fastest we've seen, but perfectly acceptable for backing up large files on a home network.


If you've got important files and want to back them up to a more secure solution than just an external hard drive, then the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is a very good choice. It offers plenty of features, including the ability to easily access your files from anywhere in the world through an app, and it is easy to configure and set up, even if you're not too familiar with technology. However, if your business demands a completely secure a nd fail-proof NAS device, you're going to need to spend money on a more professional product.


Opinion: What's the point of going beyond HD for portable Windows PCs?

Opinion: What's the point of going beyond HD for portable Windows PCs?

Opinion: What's the point of going beyond HD for portable Windows PCs?

Let's get one thing absolutely clear. If I've been anything in my decade-long slog as a tech journalist I've been the number one fanboy for high-res screens.

Back in 2002 I bought my first high-res device, a Dell 8100 Inspiron laptop with a 15-inch UXGA panel. That's 1,600 by 1,200 pixels. Seriously impressive back then.

In 2003, I upgraded to a Dell Inspiron 8500 and WUXGA 1,920 by 1,200. A year after than I had a desktop monitor with the same resolution and about a year after that I went all the way to 2,560 by 1,600 on my desktop.

I haven't got a 4K panel yet, but I'm on the record as being literally in love. Anyway, you get the idea. I've a pretty well established penchant for pixels.

So I when I say I'm struggling to see the point in the latest ultra-high DPI portable Windows devices, I hope that doesn't come across as mere Ludditism.

Wonky Windows

Part of the problem is Windows itself. It still doesn't scale properly with variable DPIs and as I've explained before, I've seen nothing relating to Windows 8.1 that makes me think the problem has been solved at a fundamental level. Until Windows is based on vector rather than bitmap graphics, it's going to be a bit clunky switching DPI setting.

But even if Windows scaled perfectly, there's something else that doesn't. The web. Again, much of the web is based on bitmaps. The fonts will scale well and look gorgeous. PDFs do too, assuming the underlying file is high resolution.

Dell XPS 11

But an awful lot of the web doesn't scale at all. Like images, banners, mastheads and the rest. On a super-high-res desktop monitor that doesn't matter. You're not messing with the DPI. The extra resolution gives you more space to play with.

But that's not how the latest super-high-DPI devices, for instance the new Dell XPS 11 laptop and its "quad-HD" 2,560 by 1,440 panel, are meant to work. The extra res isn't there to give you more desktop real estate. It's there to sharpen image quality.

So everything you see is scaled. First up a typical webpage, say BBC news, and the fonts and browser menus will look stunning. But the BBC News logo and all the images look soft and fuzzy because they're scaled up bitmaps.

Now, I don't know about you, but I reckon the single most important application regards image quality on a laptop is the web. It hardly critical in Word or Notepad. You're probably not doing any hardcore photoshopping. And a standard HD panel has HD video content covered.

The fuzziness factor

I can get my head around super-high DPI on a smartphone. It allows you to get a full overview of webpages and makes the rest of the UI look fantastic. Also, the screen is so small, the fuzziness is less of a factor. And on a smartphone you're probably using the rest of the UI more than you're using the browser.

But what, exactly, is the point of an ultra-HD on a portable device like a laptop beyond some snazzy icons? Indeed, I reckon a straight 1080p panel on a laptop is your best bet. That gives you plenty of space to work with and you can run the inteface at default DPI settings and still have text that's large enough to be reasonably legible.

With 2,560 by 1,600 on a portable panel, you have a choice between fuzzy bitmaps or sharpness combined with microscopic text. There is no ideal solution.

I suppose if I was Microsoft, I'd point out the the Metro, sorry Modern UI, does indeed scale to DPI properly. But I just don't think people spend that much time on Windows devices in Modern UI. They're either typing text or consuming content, neither of which really benefits from bonker DPI.

Of course I could be missing something super obvious. Answers on a postcard, please.


Virgin Media TV Anywhere hits Android, brings Sky Go-crushing 67 channels

Virgin Media TV Anywhere hits Android, brings Sky Go-crushing 67 channels

Virgin Media TV Anywhere hits Android, brings Sky Go-crushing 67 channels

Virgin Media customers with Android phones are finally getting a little love from their television supplier, with the roll out of the TV Anywhere app commencing on Thursday.

The app, which is free to all Virgin Media TiVo customers, brings access to a whopping 67 channels over Wi-Fi, which crushes the selection available to Sky Go customers on iOS and Android.

However, despite waiting over a year for an launch following the iOS release in 2012, not all Android owners can jump on board today.

The staggered roll out only supports a pre-selected number of devices, including the HTC One, Google Nexus 7, 10 and some of the more recent Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia phones and tablets.

Not universal

In a Q&A on its website, Virgin said it is committed to optimising the experience for a launch on more Android devices, but admitted access will not be universal across the operating system due to device limitations.

"It's important for us to protect our content owners' rights and also to provide an excellent quality service. Some older Android devices will not allow us to this, and we prevent the device being installed or used on those devices. We do make changes to the list of supported devices regularly, so check back again if your device is not supported," the company wrote.

"If your Android mobile or tablet is fairly new, and is set to be a popular model in the UK, then there is a good chance that it will be added to our list of supported devices very soon. However, many older Android devices are not capable of providing a reasonable quality of streaming, and we will not be able to support these devices."

The company said phones on Android 4.4 KitKat may experience a few problems initially, but you can see the list of supported devices here.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

No Apple Store Black Friday discounts; have a gift card instead

No Apple Store Black Friday discounts; have a gift card instead

No Apple Store Black Friday discounts; have a gift card instead

Apple stores will offer gift cards on Black Friday instead of the discounts expected by shoppers.

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is a day of blissful debauchery for eager shoppers, who swarm retail stores in the wee hours of the morning and all through the day in search of unprecedented once-a-year deals.

But unlike years past, Apple won't offer discounts this time. Instead, shoppers will receive Apple Store gift cards with select purchases.

The coupons are available to shoppers both in Apple's retail stores and online, including in regions outside the US. In fact, Australian shoppers can see them now.

Raw dea ls

We won't know the exact values of the coupons being offered outside Australia until the promotion goes live in other regions, but shoppers down under who buy any MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or iMac will get an AU$ 150 ($ 136, £83) gift card.

The iPad Air, on the other hand, comes with an AU$ 75 ($ 68, £41) gift card, while the iPad mini, iPad 2 and iPod touch come with a mere AU$ 50 ($ 46, £27).

Even further down the ladder is the iPod nano, which comes with just AU$ 25 ($ 23, £13).

Gift cards also come with third-party products like the Olloclip, Parrot AR.Drone, the Fitbit Flex, and Beats headphones.

Apple no doubt figures it will make out just fine tomorrow anyway, what with the hordes of shoppers who will inevitably appear with cash in hand ready to make a purchase.

Hopefully Apple Stores survive the ire of those mobs of shoppers when employees try to hand them gift cards instead of discounts.

Of course, if you really want a discounted Apple product, plenty of other retailers will no doubt be offering the deals B lack Friday shoppers expect.


//PART 2