Wireless Speakers: Bluetooth vs. AirPlay

We're on the verge of seeing several new wireless speakers enter the market place. The question though is which wireless technology is going to be right for you? The two formats that will likely be competing for our attention (and dollars) are Bluetooth and Apple's New AirPlay technology found in iDevices running iOS 4.2.

When AirPlay was first announced iHome teased us with a pre-announcement of an AirPlay speaker iW1 they were going to release. No real details were given at the time. So we continue to wait.

In the meantime Jawbone just announced their new Jambox Bluetooth wireless speaker. This one got my attention because in the iOS 4 Apple finally brought "full" Bluetooth Stereo support to iOS. You might remember my review of the Sony Bluetooth Stereo headset and using it with the iPhone. Back then I was able to use it to listen to music and make/receive calls, but the skip forward/back buttons on the headset were non-functional with the iPhone. Now they work fine with the latest iOS.
 

Advantages of Bluetooth Speakers

Bluetooth has been around a lot longer and is built-in to lots of devices. If you get a Bluetooth Speaker chances are you'll be able to use it with more than just your Apple gear. Bluetooth is also peer to peer which means you don't have to be on a network to use it. Once your device is paired to the speaker you can just use the speaker wirelessly anytime you're within 30 feet of it regardless of whether or not a Wi-Fi network is within range.
 

Advantages of AirPlay

AirPlay is new so the performance is yet to be seen. However, seeing how it's built on AirTunes that has been around for a while I'm not expecting any major issues. Video performance will be the only unknown factor at this point. AirPlay has the advantage of distance. While Bluetooth has a limited range of about 30 feet, AirPlay is based on Wi-Fi and therefore can go several hundred feet. You could fire up your iPad that is docked in the living room and pump music out to a speaker on the deck. AirPlay is also not limited to just audio. With AirPlay in theory someone could build a speaker with an LCD in it to be able to watch video content on, in addition to listening to audio content. I don't think we'll see a lot of devices in this category because in order to make sense the device would have to be the size of a TV. However, that does beg the question: will we see big screen TV's with AirPlay built-in? Now that would be cool! Lastly AirPlay has the advantage of being able to stream audio to more than one AirPlay speaker at a time. With AirTunes the current limitation is 3 devices. I use this ability now all the time by sending music from an iMac to the stereo in the living room and the Bose speaker in the Kitchen.

 

The Bottom Line

While I'm tempted to get the new Jawbone Jambox Speaker just to play, the $199 price tag is a bit of a show stopper for me. While I'm sure it sounds great, I just don't have enough of a need for a "Bluetooth" wireless speaker to drop $200 on it. However, if an AirPlay speaker hits the market soon I'd be more willing to spend the money on it to replace my current setup in the kitchen (a Bose SoundDock connected to an AirPort Express). While the Bose SoundDock has amazing sound, I'd replace it for something that was self contained. (Bose are you listening?) The only reason I have an AirPort Express in that room is to drive that speaker. We should also see some Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi devices in the coming months that will allow streaming without the need of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Ultimately this technology may surpass Bluetooth if it catches on because of the increased range. Things are going to heat up soon and you're going to have lots of choices. Stay tuned!

The Adobe CS5 Pharaohs Tour in Cairo – Photo Trip Report

I'm headed back from Cairo as I write this quick post to thank everyone who showed up and supported the CS5 Pharaohs Tour in Egypt! It was an amazing turnout with standing room only. I had a blast, took lots of pictures, met some great new friends and was photographed more in one day than I have been in 10 years 🙂 I'm totally wiped out and therefore I decided to wrap this trip up with more photos than words. Enjoy…

click the images to enlarge

 

Yes I managed to work in a Fashion Shoot 🙂 – ok back to work!

 

The turn out was absolutely incredible with some traveling as far as South Africa to see this event!

 

They treated us like Rock Stars! I was floored by the number of fans that were on hand to have the photos taken with us and to take photos of us. I'm truly humbled by the response!

 

Yes we made it to Historic Old Islamic Cairo. This is a "must visit "if you're in the area.

 

Special thanks goes out to the Adobe User Group Managers in Cairo! You guys are awesome. Thanks for making me feel so welcomed.

 

That's all I have time for now, I'm about to board my next flight. See more of my photos here and once again THANK YOU CAIRO! I shall return 🙂

Nikon D7000 First Impressions

This is going to be an easy one! First off I've been waiting for this camera for a long time. I was waiting for it before I even knew it existed. What I was waiting for was a camera that met the specs I wanted for a second body that I would use primarily for travel and DSLR video. When I saw the rumors of the D7000 I salivated because if those rumors were true I would have the exact camera I wanted. When the D7000 was officially announced I almost couldn't believe it. Although my needs are actually quite simple for this camera, this is the first time that Nikon has shipped a model meeting those requirements. I love my D700 for my studio work. It's a full frame body and I get fantastic results. I got the NEW D7000 for use as my travel camera and for DSLR Video. 

 

What I wanted

Like I said, my needs for this camera were pretty simple. I wanted a Nikon body to support the lenses that I already have. Canon makes great DSLRs and their DSLR video features are legendary (I've never shot Canon so I can't compare this one to a 7D – sorry). However, in order for DSLR video to make sense it's best if you can use the lenses you already own. That means I need great DSLR video from Nikon. While I originally got the D5000 for this need it fell short in one important area. The audio on the D5000 is,…well….awful! It has a built-in mic that only supports 11hz mono audio. While that might be ok for a simple interview (talking head), it's not good for events, live shows/concerts, anything loud with bass, etc. The built-in Audio on the D7000 probably isn't much better, however it has the one thing you need to over come this and that's an audio/mic input! This way you can plug in whatever mic you want to get great audio. The next thing I wanted was 1080p HD. The D5000 only supported resolutions up to 720p for video. Not only does the D7000 have 1080p 24fps video, but it also supports face detection/auto focus to keep the shot in focus automatically. I was skeptical at first, but this actually works well as long as the subject isn't moving around frantically in the shot.

 

Here's a sample clip

I shot this clip in Cairo with the D7000 and 28-300mm VRII lens. There was no post production or editing applied to this. In other words shot, transferred to the computer and uploaded to YouTube (as is) as a 1080p clip.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg_71brozxU

 

What about the camera?

Oh yeah, it's a great camera too 🙂 That almost goes without saying. While video is important to me I will most likely always be shooting stills more than video with this camera.  The minute I took it out of the box I smiled because it had a GREAT FEEL to it. Bigger than my D5000 and smaller than my D700. Probably more in line with the D300s. It definitely feels less "consumery" than the D5000. The next thing I appreciated was the dual SD card slots. You can configure these to work in a few different ways. For me I set it to capture the stills to card 1 and the movies to card 2. Also by default if card 1 fills up it will start capturing to card 2. After about 15 minutes of tinkering with the settings I was all set with how I wanted the camera to work. Another new feature that I absolutely love is the user customizable settings "U1" and "U2" are on the main dial. You can set those up anyway you want. For example, to go into Bracketing Exposures on the D5000 was 2-3 steps. Now I just switch the dial to U1 and I'm all set! When I'm done taking the shot, I switch back to manual or aperture priority. While the megapixels have gone up to 16.2 from 12mp, that really doesn't matter a lot to me. I was quite happy with 12mp images. However, for those in the megapixel race, you'll be happy to have more. 

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My New ThinkTank Streetwalker HardDrive Backpack

While planing my trip to Egypt I figured I'd be carrying a little more camera gear than usual to capture this amazing location and while I love my Kata backpack it just wasn't big enough for this trip. My need was to have a backpack that would carry two camera bodies, all the lenses I wanted, my Wacom Intuos 4 Small Tablet, accessories and oh yeah my MacBook Pro 15" and my iPad. I HATE checking luggage and I would never check my gear anyway. However, if I can carry one bag of gear (my smaller personal item that must fit under the seat in front of me) and the larger bag for clothes (going in the overhead bin, wheels inward) then I'm a happy guy. Having been totally satisfied with my larger ThinkTank Airport International 2.0  Roller bag I decided to look to ThinkTank for a backpack this time. I ordered the Streetwalker HardDrive Backpack and when it arrived I was a little freaked out at how long it was. Sizewise it was perfect in that it could hold everything I wanted to take on my trip. However, I just wasn't sure if it would fit under the seat of a domestic flight. I took the chance and headed out with the bag figuring worse case scenario would be that I would check my clothes/suitcase. 

 

It fits!

I had no problem fitting it under the seat. As a matter of fact it even fit in that skinny area under the seat that my normal laptop bag never fits in. I was also able to fit the MacBook Pro and iPad in the laptop area. However, had it been an inch longer the flight attendants may have complained of it being a potential tripping hazard. Although this backpack can accommodate a tripod on the front I didn't push my luck 🙂

 

What's in it this week?

I brought along a few goodies for the trip 🙂

Yes I can still lift it and wear it comfortably on my back. 

 

How would I redesign it?

No product is perfect for all users. Although I'm really digging this bag I would make a couple of changes in the next version (again to fit my needs). First off tablets (both computer and graphics) are becoming more and more popular. The outside pocket on the front would be perfect for an iPad if it were just a little wider and deeper. Although the main camera compartment zippers can be secured with a lock (optional), the computer area doesn't have any security features at all. Granted I'm traveling with more valuable photography gear this time than computer gear (and I never let it out of my sight anyway), but that doesn't mean that my computer gear isn't valuable and crucial to my trip. 

 

The Bottom Line

If you need a well made backpack that can hold quite a bit of camera gear AND your laptop, look no further. The ThinkTank Streetwalker (the name sounds so…) HardDrive is available here for $179.

 

P.S. many of you are waiting for my 1st impressions/review of the Nikon D7000. In a word it's AWESOME! More later, but here's my first shot taken last night after walking into my hotel room in the dark at ISO 6400. I'm doing the happy dance with this camera! It's everything I wanted it to be. More  later as I have more shooting to do 🙂

If you need a gadget mount Arkon has you covered

My first experience with Arkon mounts was their Vent Mounts for iPhone and later a vent mount for my Garmin Nuvi GPS (R.I.P. now that I use my iPhone for GPS navigation). These initial reviews led to a great relationship with the manufacturer and being one of the first to play with their latest and greatest mounts. I must admit being a little overwhelmed (in a good way) by the vast variety of choices they offer. Arkon makes a mount for just about everything that you would want to mount in your car or on your desk. 

 

So what's New?

A new portable stand for your iPad or other tablet computer! When I opened the box, I didn't know what it was (there were other mounts in the box too). I knew they were sending me their new iPad stand, but it was so compact and light weight folded down that I didn't recognize it right away for what it was. As a frequent traveler "small" and "light weight" means that it stands a good chance of going in my bag. This new stand is so simple. Folded down it easily fits in a pocket in my laptop bag. However, it's both rigid enough and strong enough unfolded to hold the iPad with ease!

You can get this new iPad/tablet stand here for $16.95. See it in action in this short clip:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ySZx-GWDEU

 

Don't have an iPad?

No worries. They have something for just about everyone!

 

 

These guys are GREAT to deal with and they are always inventing new mounts and holders for our favorite gadgets. See all of their various solutions here.

I’m headed to Cairo next week!

It's time to head to the Middle East/Africa for my CS5 Masters Tour! Of course I'm looking forward to seeing all the Adobe Creative Suite users in Cairo as well as the numerous photo ops. So I'll be blogging on location throughout the week with a hectic schedule. If you're in Cairo I look forward to seeing you there. It's my first time back to Egypt since 1990.

If you're going to be in the area register here.

Thanks for a Great Adobe MAX 2010!

I wanted to take a few minutes to thank those of you who attended my "Creating Interactive Content Without Writing Code" session at this year's Adobe MAX. This session was sold out and I apologize to those that wanted to attend that couldn't. Based on the evals this content was right on the mark. I must admit that MAX isn't necessarily a show that I look forward to based on its traditional "Developer" focus. However, as a Design Evangelist I was jazzed by the creatives in the crowds and I was really inspired by everything that was shown during Monday's keynote! If you want to see where Adobe is headed around publishing to multiple devices, Flash, AIR, HTML 5 and more, you definitely owe it to yourself to watch the Keynote replay here.

I've taken the liberty of embedding my favorite part of the keynote below. We had a surprise guest Martha Stewart and she took the wraps off her NEW special digital edition of Martha Stewart Living running on an iPad and created using the NEW Adobe Digital Publishing Suite:

 

My New Google TV: A Work In Progress

A little bit about my habit

I admit it. I'm a TV junkie. Yes, I'm one of those guys that actually enjoys TV. Now while you may be picturing this guy laying on a couch with empty potato chip bags all around, I'm not quite that bad. I use TV as a form of turning my brain off. I work long hours every day. I travel for a living and that in and of itself adds layers of stress on my life. I'm constantly on my computer working or reading up on the latest things in tech. When I've had enough! It's time to veg in front of the TV. This means that I'm not looking for inspiration. I'm not looking for a message on life. I'm not looking for controversial issues. I'm looking for simple entertainment. That's it. 

With that said, I've got all the latest TV gear in my home. HDTVs, a theater room, TiVo HD, Apple TV, Comcast HD Cable Service, Slingbox, Playstation 3, Nintindo Wii, Xbox 360 and a Netflix account. At one point I even had both DirecTV AND Comcast until DirecTV all but accused me of lying about a pay per view that I didn't order (as a result I'm no longer a DirecTV customer, their loss!). There is no shortage in ways to watch TV in my life. 

 

When do I find the time to watch?

I almost NEVER watch a live broadcast. I just don't have the time to sit in front of a TV on someone else's schedule. That's why TiVo HD is my favorite piece of gear out of all of the above boxes. I set up the Season Passes and one time recordings for the shows I want to watch and when I'm home and done with work for the day, I can usually get 3-4 shows in (fast forwarding through commercials) in one sitting. My second favorite box is my Slingbox. This allows me to stream my own TiVo recordings anywhere I happen to be traveling on my computer or my iOS devices. Lastly I also like to watch on those long flights. Therefore I either bring Netflix DVDs or rip the TiVo'd shows to my laptop or my iPad. That pretty much covers that ways that I watch content. I'm not a regular Hulu user and I rarely if ever watch shows on the network websites. The biggest reason for this is that I'm either watching at home and using TiVo or I'm in the air and don't have an internet connection to stream content. So streaming shows to my computer is the least interesting option for me.

 

The road to Google TV

I was intrigued by Google's initial teaser video on the upcoming Google TV and put it on my list of gadgets to check out. At the same time I was looking to replace the HDTV in my bedroom. The one I had was a Sony 32" 720p lower end Bravia. While this TV worked fine, I wanted a few more HDMI ports, Full 1080p resolution and the power saving aspects and clarity of the new LED sets. I was in no hurry and was just waiting for the right deal to come along. Also I had no particular brand in mind. I have no love or hate for Sony. I have several Sony products, but if a better set came along by another manufacturer I'd consider it.

Then I got an email from Sony announcing "the world's first HDTV powered by Google TV". I thought "perfect timing"! I was in the market for a TV and I wanted to tryout Google TV and this would kill two birds with one stone. 

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Adobe Project ROME is here! All-in-one Content Creation & Publishing Tool

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtm3Ahx_paY

In case you missed the announcement over the weekend Adobe released a public beta of Project ROME. Project ROME is unlike any other app out there in that it's an all-in-one content creation tool for vector/raster images, video and animations as well as web sites. On the surface ROME appears to be a simple easy to use basic program and that's a good thing. This product is aimed at casual users. However, unlike most basic programs, ROME allows you to go deep if you need to. I was floored with the number of options available.

You can download your copy of ROME here or just use it in your browser! That's the beauty of ROME, it was built entirely as an AIR app.

 

To get you started I recorded these 5 very short videos:

 

Working with Vectors

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LRoEBV9NAY

 

Working with Photos

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcm55I0ZWYo

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Adobe Launches Its Digital Publishing Suite: InDesign CS5 to iPad

It's been talked about since the release of the Wired iPad App, and now it's here for you to see and explore. Adobe is taking the wraps off the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution today that will allow Magazine publishers to publish electronic versions of their publications as iPad Apps/Issues. Rather than talk about it, I recorded this video to walk you through the process:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlxqsN7HZyU

 

You find out more as well as download the necessary components for InDesign CS5 to get started here.

Download the Adobe Preview Tool for iPad for Free here from the Adobe

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