Blu-ray disc news, reviews, opinions and deals. Everything that's fit to print about the world's favourite HD format!

Apple iPad misses the mark as HD-enabled living room tablet, media controller

Apple iPad misses the mark as HD-enabled living room tablet, media controller

“Missed it by that much!” – Maxwell Smart, Get Smart

Huh. Yeah. That new Apple iPad is full of potential. I really want to want one but it feels like it’s just missing the mark by a hair. And that hair is going to keep this writer from buying. At least for now.

I’m not going to run down all the details of the iPad. I’m sure you’ve read an article or watched a newscast that’s covered the tablet in-depth. If not, watch Apple’s overview video above. That should do the trick.

You see? It’s not a smart-phone and it’s not a laptop. Apple claims it’s a whole new category of device. I get that. And I think the devices it’s directly competing with are the Amazon Kindle (a dedicated book reader) and the netbook (crippled, mini-laptops). But the iPad doesn’t offer the easy-on-the-eyes ePaper screen of the Kindle, making eye-strain a probable issue when reading ebooks. And it doesn’t have the ability to multi-task or the extensibility of a mini-laptop. The iPad only has one port and it’s not standard. If you want to plug anything into it, you’ll need a handful of adapters.

ipad_hero_20100127

So, it’s not the best eBook reader and it’s not the best mobile workstation. At the end of the day, it just comes across as a big iPod Touch or iPhone, right?! Another window to consume media. Well, here’s where Apple missed the boat. They focused on functions that we see everyday on our phones, and functions that other, cheaper devices do better. They spent their keynote speech demonstrating the devices ability to read text and create spreadsheets. They should have shown us new things. Things that this device can do better than anything on the market. Like comic books. Like magazines. Any two-bit e-reader can handle text. There isn’t anything on the market at the moment that can allow a comic or magazine as printed to resonate with a reader in digital form. The iPad can do that. It can display full, large coloured pages as they were designed. As they were meant to be read. And I’m certain it will, through applications like ComicZeal, Comixology and iVerse.

But more exciting to me is the potential for this device to become something new in my home. Like, for instance, to become my media controller. I can envision myself sitting on the couch, leaning back with my iPad, scrolling through all my music, movies, TV, books, comics, magazines. The access is all there in my hands. But I imagine some of this content living on my Macbook Pro hard drive, on an external HD networked through my Airport Extreme or on another dedicated media device like Apple TV or PS3. I should be able to find a movie, no matter where it’s living in my house and click play on my iPad. And when I want to share it with others in the room, the iPad should be able to move the film to my 40″ LCD display, whether through a media centre like the Apple TV or directly through a wireless DLNA connection. All of these things are possible with the hardware built in to the iPad.

When I say that the iPad misses the mark, it’s really in relation to our expectations of the product. We were hoping for something revolutionary and transformative but were shown more of the same. Only bigger. In hardware terms, it fails to make the grade by not including a more universal port (like USB) and a webcam to video chat. I’m not sad that it doesn’t include a Blu-ray drive. I think it’s ridiculous to expect a thin, handheld device to contain a spinning optical drive. I got over carrying my discman around with me about fifteen years ago.

In terms of the software, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible. So, to my mind Apple really missed out on impressing its consumers and critics by failing to provide an example of the potential of the product, leaving it up to application developers to dream of new directions for the product. It could be so much more if Apple will only allow it to be. If they have the vision to take it there.

Will I buy an iPad this year? I’m still undecided. Do I hope it succeeds? Absolutely. I look forward to owning an iPad that proves itself to be more than my iPhone. And more comfortable on my lap and in my hands than my Macbook Pro. And if it manages to somehow become interoperable with my Blu-ray player so much the better!

Read More
Snow White "Magic Mirror" iPhone App Giveaway Contest (UPDATE – Winners Announced!)

Snow White "Magic Mirror" iPhone App Giveaway Contest (UPDATE – Winners Announced!)

Did you get a chance to watch Disney‘s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray yet? Isn’t it amazing? You might recall how I gushed about it in my review. Well, my feelings haven’t changed. I think it’s in the running for disc of the year. Great feature, great transfer, great extras. All available for a pretty great price (still only $19.99 at Amazon.com!) They’re practically giving the disc away over there!

And speaking of giveaways, I’ve got a nice little Halloween present to offer a couple of you Snow White fans with iPhones. Disney’s reps have been good enough to offer me a couple of codes for the “Magic Mirror” iPhone/iPod Touch application and I’ll be giving them away tomorrow! No trick necessary for this treat. Just leave a comment below before the Witching hour tomorrow night (uh…that’s 12 midnight, I think…and let’s say Pacific time, just for s#!&$ and giggles, ok?) and I’ll pick two winners at random, to be announced early Sunday morning. Here’s the catch – the codes expire on Monday, Nov. 2nd!!! So, winners, you’ve got to get on it quickly and redeem those bad boys in the iTunes app store ASAP once you claim your prize.

CONTEST RULES:

1. Leave comment below (say anything you like)
2. 2 winners will be chosen at random from comments below
3. Contest open to all
4. Prize codes will be awarded Sunday morning, Nov. 1st!
5. Prize codes expire on Monday, Nov. 2nd!

magicmirror

PLEASE NOTE: iPod Touch users will need external earphones and microphone for speaking your questions to the Magic Mirror.

Inspired by one of the most iconic scenes from Walt Disney’s Original Animated Classic SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS comes Disney’s Magic Mirror for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Receive advice and answers to your questions from the all-knowing Magic Mirror by speaking or typing into your device.

******************************************

• The Magic Mirror bestows sage advice with dispassionate truth and poetic rhymes!
• Ask any question, future or present — romance, friendship, school, or work!
• Dazzling animation — just like the film!
• Type or speak your questions (microphone required for iPod touch)

******************************************

This fun and entertaining application includes state-of-art animation, official character voice and answers to almost any question!

Read more about the application or purchase it in the iTunes app store.

******************************************

UPDATE: AND THE WINNERS ARE…

Jack!

and

Lisa Morgan-Long!

You’ll both be contacted soon via email with your “Magic Mirror” code. Remember to redeem the codes quickly as they expire tomorrow!

Read More

Universal to release iPod Touch/iPhone apps that control Blu-ray players, PS3

I’ve been waiting for this to materialize in some form or another. I knew it would happen some day. I just didn’t expect to be able to control my PS3 with my iPhone via a Fast and Furious movie related application.

So, it turns out that Universal Studios Home Entertainment has beaten all the iTunes App Store developers to the punch and come up with a way for us to control our Blu-ray players through an application downloaded onto an iPhone or iPod Touch. The bummer of it is that it’s such a specific and limited control that we’re offered through the device that it’s almost not worth the bother, at this point. But I see a lot of potential here. On July 28th the studio will release the film Fast and Furious on Blu-ray with a “Virtual Car Garage” bonus feature that uses BD Live technology. If your player is connected to a network, you’ll be able to manipulate this content on-screen by using a free app you can download onto your iPhone or iPod Touch through the iTunes store.

According to the article at Home Media Magazine, Universal intends to broaden their reach into our set-top boxes and connectivity through mobile devices,

    “On subsequent Universal Blu-ray Disc releases coming later in the year, consumers will be able to access bonus content found on their Blu-ray Disc releases and download it onto their iPhone or iPod Touch. They’ll also be able to use the devices as a virtual remote to control their Blu-ray Disc features and access additional information while watching the movie.”

I don’t know about you, but while I find this kind-of cool and all, I’d much rather just have an app on my iPhone that works as a full-on PS3 remote control! Why has no-one developed this yet?! I mean, Sony could have released one themselves and, at $0.99 probably made back all of their losses on the console. Why is Universal the first one to take advantage of this obvious hole in the market?

Read the full article at Home Media Magazine: Universal Bows iPod Touch/iPhone Apps for Blu-ray

Read More