State of AirPlay Speakers

AirPlay is Apple's wireless technology that let's you stream audio and/or video to AirPlay enabled devices. AirPlay (formally known as AirTunes) first appeared in the original AirPort Express Base Station. The AirPort Express has a standard digital audio out jack on the bottom of it that lets you plug in a set of speakers or jack into an existing stereo system. Once you have the speakers plugged in you can stream music to them from your computer using iTunes or from your iOS Devices. Apple TV is also an AirPlay enabled device. With the Apple TV 2 you can also stream video to your TV wirelessly from your computer or iDevice. 


Setting up a multi-room AirPlay System

When I moved into my new studio I knew that I'd want music throughout the space. This meant have speakers in at least 3 areas. I've been patiently waiting for more AirPlay enabled speakers to hit the market. While I love my Bowers & Wilkens Zeppelin Air at home, I didn't want to spend that kind of money in this situation for all three rooms! I did get one Zeppelin Air for the largest area, but still needed something for the other two.


The folks at iHome have been teasing us with their $299 iW1 for over a year. As of the writing of this it's still out of stock (did they ever ship any?).


I also tried the JBL On Air Speaker. I usually don't waste time here writing about how bad something is, but the JBL On Air was probably one of my worst out of box tech experiences of all time. It just flat out didn't work! I made sure it did in fact have the latest firmware update, but it couldn't get through a single song without crashing, rebooting or skipping. I boxed it right back up and sent it back. Although I really liked the design of it and the nice color display for album art, I couldn't deal with that many issues on playback. Now keep in mind I may have just gotten a bad one. It happens, but I wasn't willing to go through shipping back and getting a replacement at this point.


Tired of waiting

Since the iW1 wasn't shipping yet and the Zeppelin Air is out of my budget range for this multi-room setup, I went with something that has always worked well for me. I bought a couple more AirPort Express Base Stations and plugged regular powered speakers into them. I'm a fan of the Bose Sounddock II and went with a couple refurbs on those. The system works flawlessly! I can push music through to all three systems simultaneously and even control volume levels from my computer or the speakers themselves. Using the Sounddocks also means that in any room an iPod/iPhone can be plugged in on the spot to play something that someone brought with them and wants to hear.


What about streaming other source besides iTunes

While I have a rather large iTunes music collection, there are times that I want to stream other music sources such as Pandora Radio or Sirius XM. This is where the software AirFoil comes into play. AirFoil is a 3rd party utility for your Mac or PC that lets you stream just about any source from your computer to your AirPlay speakers. With AirFoil I can fire up Pandora Radio and have continuous music throughout the day from just about any artist for just about any model or client's music tastes. 

You can check out AirFoil here.

Another reason to go with a computer and AirFoil is that while iOS Devices can stream to AirPlay enabled systems, they can only stream to one at a time. AirFoil and iTunes allow you to stream simultaneously to multiple systems. 


The Bottom Line

Even at the relatively low price of $299 for an iHome iW1, it's still hard to beat the AirPort Express Base Station for an AirPlay setup. You can plug in any powered speakers you want or already own and will probably save money. I'll probably still get an iW1 to review and if it works out I'll use it in a 4th location up stairs or in my office. There are more AirPlay enabled speakers and receivers on the horizon. While it's nice to have this technology built-in, unless they become much more reliable, stable, easier to setup and lower the prices I'm going to stick with the AirPort Express/Regular Speakers Combo. It just works!

A Software Update To My Watch


Along with the iPhone 4S introduced this week, Apple also did minor updates to the iPod line too. With the iPod nano Apple added additional clock faces. The original iPod nano 6th gen only had a black face and a white face for the clock. There are now 18 clock faces for the iPod nano including Kermet, Mickey and Minnie Mouse as well as some digital faces and even faces with moving gears. The good news is that you don't need to buy a new 7th gen Nano to get these faces. Apple also released a software update for the existing iPod nano. I installed it Tuesday and got all the new goodies. 


It could be better

There is one thing stopping this from being near perfect and that's the fact that you still need to press the physical button on the side to see the time. I wish there was a way to set it so that it stays dim until you touch the screen or perhaps use the accelerometer to shake to see the time. Other than that, it's great having so many clock face choices that I can change anytime I feel like it.


The Bottom Line

At the end of the day the iPod nano is an iPod first that just happens to have a clock display. If you need a watch that you can just look at and see the time, then this is not for you. However, if you want to carry a sizable music collection, some photos, have a way to track your runs/walks and have a stylish watch, then check out the new lower priced iPod nanos. Here's the band I use.

Ever hear someone say “I should have backed up my Music!”?


I have had both friends and family members lose data over the years due to crashed hard drives. In almost all those cases they didn't have a current backup or a backup of any kind. In the case of my sister we were able to at least get her music back using a 3rd party App that allowed me to recover it from her iPod. Although Apple has allowed us to freely re-download our iOS Apps as many times as needed, iTunes music content was always a one-time download. Of course in some cases pleading your case to Apple directly would get you a special one-time re-download of all your purchased content curtesy of a caring human being at AppleCare. If this has ever happened to you, you'll be happy to know that you can now get it all back!


iTunes in iCloud

Yesterday Apple turned on a few of the iCloud (beta) features that allow you to grab any of your purchased Apps, Music and iBooks on any of your iOS devices. If you grab the iTunes 10.3 beta you'll be able to do the same on your Mac or PC too. Since Apple keeps a history of all your purchased music, it should all be there and available for download.


What Else Is New?

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, iOS 5, iCloud and more…

A lot of things were shown off yesterday and it will take a little time to make sense of some of it. While iOS 5 doesn't give me all the things I wanted from my wishlist, here are the things that got my attention and that I'm most excited about.

Watch the entire Apple/Steve Jobs Keynote here.

Learn the Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White on your iPad

Oh happy day! I'm pleased to announce that my "Learn The Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White" App has just been updated to be a Universal iOS App, which means that you now get to see the videos in all the iPad 10" glory without having to screen double them. The App is now available on the App Store and is of course a FREE update to anyone who already had it.

If you're new to the App, the advantage here my regular podcast is that many of the episodes have Exclusive Bonus Clips. These clips can only be seen in the App and aren't published anywhere else. Often the Bonus Content includes additional tips and techniques or expands in an area where the regular episode left off. On the iPad these Bonus Clips are highlighted right below the regular episode so you'll more easily be able to identify the episodes that have Bonus Content.

There are literally hundreds of videos available on the various Creative Suite Apps all the way back to CS2. Thankfully the App has a built-in Search feature as well as the ability to Star your favorite episodes and download the ones you want to be able to watch offline.

I want to personally thank you for your support in my podcast as well as my App!

See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here for $1.99:

Learn Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White - Wizzard Media


Continue reading “Learn the Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White on your iPad”

Eye-Fi to Send Photos Direct to iOS and Android Devices without a WiFi Hotspot

In case you haven't been following me on this story you can start with my "Shoot Tethered (wirelessly) to an iPad" from a couple of weeks ago here. Back then I decided to try out the Eye-Fi Pro X2 Card in my D7000 shooting wirelessly to an iPad 2 via my MiFi mobile hotspot and I was pleased with the overall workflow. Today Eye-Fi just announced a new card (yeah that happens in technology, deal with it!), the Eye-Fi Mobile X2 which is a cheaper card that offers Direct to iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) and Android mobile device shooting WITHOUT the need for a WiFi hotspot. Removing the WiFi hotspot requirement and going direct in an AdHoc fashion makes this solution even better. However, don't fret if you bought the Pro X2 card like I did. They are going to release a firmware update to the existing cards next week. Keep in mind that the Pro X2 card does handle RAW and Geotagging. The new card does not.

This should open up a whole new world for people that want to shoot with a decent camera and share those images even with some minor retouching/adjustments, from a tablet device directly. I'll be shooting RAW to my regular SD card in slot 1 and BASIC JPG to my Eye-Fi card in Slot 2 on my D7000. Life just got a little more fun.

If you don't have an Eye-Fi card yet, you can get the NEW Mobile X2 8GB card with the Direct Mode love built-in here.

Sorry, still not Compact Flash joy.

As soon as I have the yet to be released iOS App and an updated card you expect a review here.

Promo Video:


Amazon MP3 Beats iTunes to the Cloud

One of the rumors that has been floating around for several months now is that Apple will take an upcoming version of iTunes to the cloud. Perhaps even ship new iPods (normally released in September) that have no storage or very little storage and simply stream YOUR music over the internet to these devices. Music and video streaming is not a new concept. Just look at apps like Netflix and Pandora Radio and you'll see these kinds of services in use everyday. What is a fairly new concept is streaming YOUR music collection over the internet. It seems that Amazon decided not to wait around for Apple and therefore they released their own version for the Amazon MP3 Store.


Introducing Cloud Drive


Amazon's Cloud Drive gives you 5GBs of FREE space for your music collection (or any other documents) to reside in the cloud. You can even get 20GBs for a year by simply buying one of their Albums. I bought a $9.99 MP3 album last night and my space was immediately increased to 20GBs with an expiration date of next year on this same day. At that time I can choose to go back down to the free 5GBs of space or pay $20/year to keep the 20GBs of space. When I bought the Album I was given the choice to either download the songs to my hard drive on my computer or just leave them on my Cloud Drive. Had I chose to just leave them there I could download them at any time in the future if I choose to do so. The purchased Album was available for immediate streaming via the Amazon Cloud Player in my browser and the sound quality was good. 


It works with your music too

Cloud Drive not only works with music you buy from Amazon's MP3 Store, but it also works with music in your existing iTunes library (yes including Non-DRM'd AAC files). As a matter of fact you can download the Amazon Uploader and it will automatically sniff out your music collection and offer to upload your music and playlists to your Cloud Drive. I did this with a subset of my collection. I uploaded 396 songs from my iTunes Library on my MacBook Air including all the playlists. The process took about 2 hours to complete, but once it was done it was all there and available for streaming. The 408 songs I have there now only take up 2.8GB of space. The 5GB of FREE space will probably be plenty for me at least for now.


The benefits

The benefits of this service are pretty clear. I've often complained that iTunes needs to be able to sync your library between computers. I have this solution, but this should be something that is built-in. By having my most played music in my Cloud Drive including playlists (a must have) I can now access my favorite tunes from any computer with a web browser. If you're an Android user you can grab the Amazon MP3 for Android App and have instant streaming access on your mobile device as well. It will be interesting to see if we see (and if Apple would even approve it) an iOS version of this App. The other benefit is that this serves as a offsite backup of your music. Granted my music collection is larger than 20GBs and Amazon will sell you more, but it's nice for people with smaller collections to know that their music is backed up offsite in case of a drive failure.

The only downside in streaming is you need to have an internet connection to do so. In the Android App there is the option to download any of your music/playlists to the device so that you can enjoy it offline. That is truly the best of both worlds. You can have all or most of your music in the cloud for streaming and perhaps a playlist or two on the device for those times when you don't have a connection.

Apple, your turn!


Check out the NEW Cloud Drive and Cloud Player here:

Review: Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air with Built-In AirPlay Support

I've been a long time user of Apple's AirTunes (now called AirPlay) technology. As a matter of fact I bought the AirPort Express the day it was introduced, to be my travel WiFi hotspot, but then I quickly saw the benefits of wireless music streaming and set them up throughout my home. Each AirPort Express I have is either plugged into a powered speaker system like the Bose SoundDock or a surround sound system. Life has been good with this setup and it continues to get better now that Apple is putting AirPlay technology into more things. I also like steaming to audio to multiple rooms. I was really curious though what it would be like to have an AirPlay device that had this support built-in as opposed to having to tack on an AirPort Express to each speaker system. While the AirPort Express provides audio AirPlay support to any device with an audio-in jack, it is an extra expense and requires a cable to the audio device. 


Bowers & Wilkins shipped one of the 1st Speaker Systems with built-in AirPlay support

During last weekend's iPad 2 madness I noticed that my local Apple Store had the Zeppelin Air in stock. These speakers are sold out just about everywhere and even the Apple online store quotes a 3-5 week wait. It's not everyday that I plunk down $600 for a new sound system, but I was willing to give this one a shot. AirPlay is a great feature, but it has to sound amazing too. Bowers & Wilkins has a long standing history of making great sounding audio gear. I wasn't really worried about it not sounding great.


Setup could have been easier

The Zeppelin Air is beautifully packaged and unboxing it only takes a few moments. They supply a wireless remote, power cable and ethernet cable. The ethernet cable is really only needed for the initial configuration and this is what could be improved. In order to set it up (following the directions) you plug the ethernet cable into the speaker and into your Mac or PC. Then you fire up a browser and go to However, you would have to know that the only way this will work is if you have disabled your Mac/PC's WiFi connection and the only connection you then have is via the Ethernet cable. Luckily I knew this going in. Also it takes a few moments for your computer to realize that this is the only connection you have before it brings up the page. This may cause some users to think that it's not working.

Once the built-in web page comes up you use it to select your WiFi network and enter the password for it. You can also use this opportunity to name the Zeppelin Air whatever you like. This name will show up whenever you go to choose it in iTunes or other AirPlay compatible Apps. While this seems straight forward you get a big warning message that unless you read it slowly, it will sound like the setting you just made didn't work. What the message is really warning you about is that "if" you entered the wrong information on the "previous" screen, it may not connect to your network. Duh! This warning should be on the screen where you're actually keying in the info. I did it 3 times before realizing that the message wasn't saying that it didn't work, it was saying that it may not work if I keyed it in wrong. After you click OK, you disconnect the ethernet cable. The flashing LED will turn a solid dark red if it worked and connected to your network. It also takes a few moments for it to connect, causing a bit of anxiety.

I also took this opportunity to download the latest firmware update from the B&W site and install it. This is when I knew that the process above could have gone better. The firmware update installs via a USB cable. Yep, there is also a USB port on the back of the speaker too. They don't supply the cable, but it made me think how much easier this whole setup could have been had they allowed it to happen over USB instead of Ethernet. There would have been no need to screw with your Mac/PC's network connection at all.  Oh well, it's up and running now!


The Zeppelin Air is Live on my Network

Once I got through the setup and Firmware update the next thing I obviously wanted to do was hear my new investment. While I could have simply docked an iPod or iPhone on the built-in dock, I wanted to hear it via AirPlay. So I fired up iTunes 10 and started streaming music to it over the air As I expected/hoped the sound was AWESOME. Nice bass response and just and overall great sound. I've often professed NOT to be an audiophile. I'm not one! However, I can definitely tell the difference between this speaker and other lesser speakers that I have around my home. It easily fills the room I have it and then some. No hiccups or other delays in streaming.


AirPlay from Devices

Since AirPlay is built-in to iOS 4 I can pickup  any of my iOS devices (iPad, iPhone 4 or iPod touch) and start streaming audio directly to this speaker. Besides having the ability to stream iPod content I can stream audio from Apps like Mobile Safari, Pandora Radio, YouTube, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone, etc. See more AirPlay Enabled Apps Here.



The Bottom Line

There really isn't anything "special" about this speaker system. It has AirPlay built-in! However, and I stress this again that the same exact thing can be accomplished with an AirPort Express Base Station and ANY speaker system, including other Bowers & Wilkins Speakers via a line out of the AirPort Express and into the speaker's audio-in jack. If you are starting from scratch and looking for an all in one solution that only has a single power cable once it's setup and sounds great, this is it! Audio streaming has been flawless so far.

I expect a flood of these kind of devices in 2011. I'm also hoping to see some video displays with AirPlay built-in for wireless streaming of video and audio. This is just the beginning.

You can get the Bowers & Wilins Zeppelin Air here for $600 or less.

My New Watch is an iPod nano

Although I love gadgets, when it comes to my watch I've always gone with something pretty simple. It's not even digital. I've worn an analog watch for years and have been happy. I remember when the 6th generation iPod nano was released and Steve made the joke about it being warn as a watch I smiled and really didn't give it a second thought. Actually I had no plans of ever buying the new nano simply because I didn't need one. My personal iPod is my iPhone 4. If I want to watch a movie on the go I usually do that on my iPad. I just don't need to carry around another iPod. The only other iPod I use is an iPod touch in my studio during photo shoots. I do own some of the older nanos and there is one dedicated to the glove compartment in my car. The only reason I would ever upgrade that one is if I needed more space or if Apple ever saw fit to provide WiFi syncing of media (that one I'd buy in a heartbeat). Nope, the new nano just never appealed to me.


I got a gift!

My buddy Bruce bought me the New nano as a belated Christmas present. The only reason the gift was delayed because he didn't just want to give me a nano (that I didn't need) he wanted to give me a cool tech watch! In order for that to happen he had to wait for the shipping of arguably the best wristband solution for the new iPod nano. It's called the TikTok. This was actually a Kickstarter seed project that got off the ground by individual donations/investments to the project and Bruce invested in them. The interest in this product was staggering!  They originally only wanted to raise $15,000 to do the project and to date they've raised $941,718! While the concept of wearing an iPod is certainly not new, it appears that there are lots of people that want to wear one as a watch.


Using the nano as a watch

First off while the band totally rocks! There are a couple of pros and cons to wearing an iPod nano as a watch though. The first one is that while the nano is a small iPod, it's a fairly large watch. I have large wrists so I can pull it off 🙂 The iPod nano has a multi-touch screen. This is cool because you have instant access to your music, pictures, FM radio, and other features like a pedometer, stopwatch and of course a clock. Speaking of the clock that's built-in to the nano you would think that the options to customize it would be endless. However, there are only a couple of choices. You can choose a black or white face. You can, umm….that's about it. There's no choice for a digital display or any other visual features. I'm fine with an analog display because that's what I was using anyway but it would be nice to have more options. The nano also offers an option to display the time upon touching the button no matter what App you are running. Again, this is an iPod that has a clock, not an Apple watch. It's clear that Apple didn't spend a lot of time trying to make this the ultimate "watch." The only real downside is having to press the button to see the time. Like all Apple multi-touch devices you can't just tap the display to wake it. You have to press the hardware button. I'd love to see a "shake" to display the time feature or a low power OLED continuous display. Although the nano doesn't run iOS, it's begging for Apps. I could see developers going nuts making "mini" or nano Apps for the wrist. Lastly even as an iPod the one other feature that is painfully missing is Bluetooth. I would LOVE to be able to use wireless headphones with this "watch". That would be killer!

All-in-all I'm happy with my gift! Thanks Bruce! It's my main watch now.


You can get the iPod nano here on sale starting at $134.

You can get the TikTok band here starting at $34.95.

Continue reading “My New Watch is an iPod nano”

iTunes 9.2: Why can’t we sync playlists yet?

It was Wednesday afternoon last week and I was packing to head out on a business trip. This usually involves syncing my iDevices so I have the latest tunes, Apps, movies, etc. that I want to take with me on the road. All of this syncing works great between devices, except when those devices happen to be computers! My main music library is on a shared family iMac in a central part of the house. It has music on it from each family member according to their tastes in music. As you might imagine I really don't want to bring a bunch of music with me that I have no interest in listening too. This isn't a problem on an iPod, because you simply sync only the playlists you want to take with you and only those songs will go onto the device. 

So why does Apple exclude computers from all this syncing "magic"?

I have iTunes 9.2 on my MacBook Pro. I have iTunes 9.2 on my iMac. Both Macs are authorized on the same iTunes account and therefore can legally play the same songs. However, when it comes time for me to get songs from the iMac onto the MacBook Pro it's a very MANUAL process. iTunes 9 introduced Home Sharing. However, Home Sharing is essentially just a network copy feature and nothing more. Although Home Sharing DOES automatically add purchased songs to the other computer, there's no syncing and no duplicate management for playlists or anything else. Grab 10 songs and drag them over and 5 minutes later you can grab the same songs and drag them over again. iTunes will not warn you about any duplicates and it will just copy them AGAIN. This problem got a little worse back when Apple moved to iTunes Plus because although you could "upgrade" your songs and iTunes would replace them with the new DRM free versions at a higher bit rate (keeping your ratings, metadata, play counts, etc.), your other computers would be out of luck for this automatic replacement. You would have to do it all manually.  I guess from time to time you could wipe your library on one computer and copy over again, but the question becomes why is there no automatic way of keeping two iTunes libraries in sync?


Is there a 3rd party solution out there?

I've looked and so far I haven't found the perfect app yet (or even one that's close). Sure there are some Apps out there that will attempt to keep your iTunes libraries in sync. However, from what I've seen so far either the user interfaces are HORRIBLE and overly complicated or they simply don't do enough. For example, I haven't found one yet that syncs "Smart Playlists". Let's say I have a Smart Playlist of my "Best of the Best" songs. They are the ones I've rated 5 stars. So technically it's not a "real playlist", it's a dynamic one that updates automatically based on the song ratings. None of the Apps I've tried to date will handle this. Yet Apple has been able to sync Smart Playlists to the iPod since day one.

Ideally what I want is pretty simple – I want to be able to choose a few playlists on my iMac (including Smart Playlists) and have those SAME playlists sync to my MacBook Pro. If I change the rating of a song on the iMac, then that song's rating should get changed on the MacBook Pro too and therefore it would appear in the proper playlists automatically. If I have manual playlists that I move songs in and out of, this should happen on the MacBook Pro too. 

Yes, I'm very willing to pay for such a solution. Have you guys seen anything out there that really works? It's sad that Apple hasn't built this in directly to iTunes for computers like they have for iDevices.