Walked into the Apple Store on Saturday to check out the new track pad thingy, and ended up with a new iPhone 4. I had been planning to upgrade, but wasn’t going to order and wait for the phone, and wasn’t planning on getting onto a waiting list to come back 1-2 days later to get the phone. But, since I was there, I asked. They had them in stock, and upgrade I did. The biggest reason for the upgrade was the camera. The new camera is light years ahead of any of the previous iPhone cameras, and it really good enough to actually use day to day. The HDR capabilities being added next week in the new code upgrade should make for a truely wonderful camera to always have in your pocket.
Another new toy we recently got was the upgrade to Plex for our Mac Mini media center. Plex is our main application we use, for watching downloaded movies and TV shows. About the only other things we is Safari for watching NetFlix movies. Well, Plex upgraded to their new release v.9, and it’s a ground up rewrite of the software. Originally forked from the XMBC software, it’s come a long was since then. One of the big things was splitting the main application away from the Media Manager, so now new files are able to be scanned, and metadata downloaded without the application being open and running. The part of the software that monitors and scans for new content stays running all of the time, and has a status icon in the menu bar. There were some issues at first getting TV show data from TVDB, because they were being hammered by people upgrading to v.9 of Plex, but they’ve addressed that.
Also very cool with Plex is a new iPad/iPod application they’ve released ($4.99 for this app, which is fine, because the main app is free). This allows you obviously control Plex, but also will allow you to stream content from the Plex box back the the iDevice. So, you can watch something on your TV, then stop in the middle and pick up where you left off watching on your iDevices in bed, or elsewhere. Very nice.
The new Plex also supports h.264 decoding using the GPU on newer hardware, so I may consider upgrading the Media Center to a newer Mac Mini in the near future, to allow better performance and lower CPU utilization.
Between the Plex iDevice app, and another iDevice/Media Center software combo we have installed called Mobile Air Mouse Pro, we are starting to eliminate the usage of our USB/wireless keyboard altogether. The keyboard we have is nice, and has served very well, but it’s not perfect. It seems to lose connection once in a while, and needs to be reset to resync with the media center. It also is just on the edge of usable range, and thus sometimes won’t work when you’re setting back on the couch. Combined with the tendency to burn thru batteries like a single girl with a boyfriend, and it just wasn’t being the final solution we were seeking. Now, with both of our phones and the iPad having the mouse software installed, there’s always something around to control the media center. If having a device with us at all times ends up being a problem, I may look into grabbing a cheap iPhone Touch for a dedicated living room remote.
Oh, the iPad just finished it’s software update, so I think I’m going to get a coffee refill and watch some podcasts.