The ultimate Apple remote control

More wishful thinking. More Apple rambling. And a description of the ultimate remote control. No doubt about it. I was disappointed in the remote control that Apple made for Front Row experience. For a second I was thrilled. Fantastic! A remote control with a scroll wheel! But no, it has six buttons. Period.

It looks like this:

Apple Remote

It’s IR. It’s one way. It has no screen. It has no scroll wheel.

Throw this away. Apple has already designed the ultimate remote. They only have to change some parts inside the iPod Nano.

In other words, the ultimate remote looks like this:

Apple iPod Nano

Remove all the memory. Remove the audio part. Throw in a bluetooth chip. Make a two way communication with Front Row Experience.

Voila. The coolest remote ever built. For listening to music from your Apple media box in your living room you don’t have to turn on the big screen. Just navigate with the remote and music plays from Front Row. When watching movies etc. you turn on the big screen. The LCD on the remote still gives you navigation info etc…

Then Apple makes an add on for the existing iPods. An accessory like the photo connector. A little something that you clip onto the bottom of your iPod Video or iPod Nano that turns it into a bluethooth remote for Front Row.

Dream on…

The ultimate Apple remote control

The Apple Mobile Phone

CyberShot iPod Nokia 6630

Apple, please! Giving us an FM radio for the iPod in 2006 is an insult. Why? Why can’t you understand that it’s not the “iPod Radio Remote” we want. We want the “iPod Cellular Remote“. This product should have been a cellular attachment for the iPod. Same idea. Use the screen and the battery in the iPod. Just add a little external box with some keys, a cellular chip and preferably also wifi.

Wired had lots of coverage on what people want and why they don’t get it in issue 13.11. Seems like the biggest problem is the download service that should let you buy music directly through the cellular network. Crap.

30GB and 60GB iPod compared

This is what I want:
The 30 GB iPod is slightly thinner than the 60 GB. So, give me a device that is the size of a 60 GB iPod but with a 30 GB disk and use the available space to fit in a 3G cellular and wifi. Let me update my podcasts and buy music from iTunes music store when on a WiFi network or through my computer and let me use it like I use my cellular today when on a mobile network.

The main point here is not to be able to buy music on the go. It is the possibility to bring only one device and one set of headphones. And to own the most sexy cellular ever built.

My current mobile is close, but it lacks the storage space and the software to make things easy enough. That will be fixed at some point.

Right now I carry this around:

Nokia 6630
– Excellent phone
– Excellent calendar and adress book
– Camera (but not very good)
– Music player (but not very good)
– Video player (but not very good)

iPod 60GB Video
– Excellent music player
– OK video player
– calendar and adress book

Sony CyberShot DSC-P150
– Excellent camera

When Nokia removes the three “but not very good” from camera, music player and video player it’s good bye iPod and CyberShot.

Or, if Apple makes the perfect iPod Phone:
Apple’s Trademark Applications Hint At IPod Phone. It’s good bye Nokia…

The Apple Mobile Phone

How to connect your iPod to your car

Toyota Rav4 Norwegian Mountains

…or rather how to connect your iPod to your 2001 Toyota Rav4
So, time has come to find a soultion that gives me an ability to listen to my iPod in my car. It’s a 2001 Toyota Rav4 with a standard Toyota factory mounted stereo. And a 60GB Apple iPod Video.

Using one of the several FM Transmitters out there is not an option. That’s just not good enough. I want to connect the iPod to the car stereo through wires. I want the best sound quality possible with the combination of a car stereo and an iPod.

Someone out there would immediately say: “Then you have to start by getting rid of the factory mounted Toyota stereo.“. I know. It’s not very good. With the original speakers only it’s actually close to terrible. But after adding a subwoofer and an extra set of tweeters it’s much better.

The options
It cooked down to these two:
Continue reading “How to connect your iPod to your car”

How to connect your iPod to your car

How to get video out of your iPod

Apple AV Cable

Update:
Having a blog with a bit of readers is a wonderful thing. You can post articles about stuff that makes you angry. And then realize that you are completely wrong!

Have a look at the comments. Thanks, Magnus and Tor Erik.

Apple should still consider their strategy concerning FairPlay and a couple of other things. Regarding their AV cable they did the right thing.

The original post:
Apple is a company that makes wonderful software and hardware. Still, sometimes they do their best to make their products difficult to use and annoying for the consumer.

The connector on top of the new video iPod can also be used to deliver video to a television set. Video cameras and other equipment use standard AV cables to deliver stereo sound and composite video out of a mini jack like the one on top of your iPod.

However, Apple has decided to make it difficult for their users by making the connector on top of the iPod non standard. They say that you have to buy Apple’s own cable if you want to connect your iPod to a television set.

For starters, that’s a lie. You can buy a standard AV cable. You just have to connect it in a very stupid and non logic way. Someone at some point made some thinking and managed to make some kind of standard out of the typical RCA connectors you use for audio and video. White and red for left and right audio. Yellow for video. Great.

If you buy a standard AV cable for your iPod you have to connect it like this:
* Plug the red RCA plug into your TV’s yellow RCA jack
* Plug the yellow RCA plug into your TV’s white RCA jack
* Plug the white RCA plug into your TV’s red RCA jack

Detailed description here.

How stupid is that? Yes I know, Apple think they’re going to rule the world and get stinking rich by selling the special AV cable where the connectors have been messed up to match the iPod.

Well, this is amazingly stupid thinking:
1. It gives great room for confusion
2. It is a classic example of bad usability
3. Last but not least:
Apple, please start trusting yourself. I bought your expensive and special cable. Not because I was unable to connect the red to the yellow, using a cheap standard cable. I knew that already. I did it because Apple’s original cable is one of the best built, wonderfully designed and sexy AV cables ever made. I would buy another one for my video camera as well if it had been built using the standards.

The reason why I bought this cable is the exact same as the reason for buying an iPod in the first place. It is more expensive than the competitors, but it is also better built, in a league of its own when it comes to looks and in general a pleasure to use.

This is a tiny issue and not a very important example on its own. Still it illustrates an unintelligent strategy from Apple.

Apple, I love your products. Now please, open your FairPlay DRM. Open the Firmware in the iPod. Open your Front Row Experience for third party content providers…

How to get video out of your iPod

iPod Photo Connector quick review – useless!

iPod Camera Connector

What it should do:
Give you a possibility to upload pictures from your digital camera directly on to your iPod. Fantastic! For the people that take large amounts of pictures, maybe with a high resolution camera the cost of memory cards will be huge if you want to bring enough of them to keep you going for a whole vacation.

Having the possibility to transfer them to your iPod and even review them on the iPod screen is a very good idea.

Unfortunately, the iPod Photo Connector fails to help you out…

Sony DSC-P150

The first quick test
I have a Sony DSC-P150 digital camera. It’s 7.2 megapixels. Pictures that I take are around 3 MB and I also use it to record quick video clips.

I didn’t find any information about people that had connected this particular camera to the iPod, but according to the information on Apple’s website it should work.

So, I snap a couple of pictures and a short video clip and connect my camera to the iPod with my original Sony USB cable. Great! The iPod recognize the camera connector and the camera and automatically shows information about what’s on the memory card in the camera. 5 items, 23 MB.

I choose to transfer them to the iPod. Great, a nice screen showing progress and the pictures as they are transfered. It takes quite a bit of time to transfer this small amount of pictures, but everything works out fine.

I can then look at the pictures on the iPod and it shows a small icon for the video clips as well. Kindly telling me that the iPod can not play this video clip but it will play when I transfer it to my computer.

Great. This looks like a useful little device. At $24 it wasn’t even very expensive.

Then the real test
I shoot pictures for one day, and have now a 1 GIG memory stick that is filled with 472 MB worth of pictures and video clips. Not even half way full, but I decide to test the transfer anyway.

This is when I realize that the Apple iPod Photo Connector is completely useless.

I start the transfer. Wow, it is really slow. It takes about 15 minutes and half the battery of the iPod to transfer these 472 MB. And, because the camera connector don’t let you charge the iPod while you transfer I guess transfering 1 GIG or more would be impossible.

The iPod is USB 2.0, my camera is USB 2.0, the cable is USB 2.0. What is this camera connector doing?

OK. It might be useful if I am traveling and has charge possibilities for the iPod and never fill my 1 GB cards.

Well, no. As mentioned. It is completely useless. Why? After the 15 minutes of transfer the iPod tells me that it has transfered the 143 pictures and 472 MB. But this time it won’t let me review the pictures. When I connect the iPod to my computer and check the folder with the pictures it has only trensfered 120 pictures and 350 MB. I try again with my wife’s iPod and now it only transfers 56 pictures! In other words it’s not only a huge battery drain but it is unstable as well. Transfering the same pictures directly from my camera to my computer and directly from a memory card reader both work out fine.

So now you have been warned. An iPod, a camera connector and a Sony DSC-P150 is a completely useless combination. Feel free to try with other cameras. I will keep the connector, and I hope that Apple can solve parts of these issues with new firmware for the iPod. Time will show.

Portable Hard Drive

So what do I do while I wait? I keep using my 80GIG combined memory card reader and battery powered portable hard drive. The eMagic USB 2.0 Data Storage Bank. Yes, crappy web page, crappy design. Not very well built.

But it is cheap, it empties my full 1 GIG card in a couple of minues and has enough battery power to empty several full 1 GIG cards.

Can’t watch the pictures on it, but it has not let me down one single time. Fast, reliable transfers.

iPod Photo Connector quick review – useless!

How to get video on to your iPod

iPod Video

The iPod with video playback is not the most impressive portable video player out there. Archos has devices that support both recording and more commonly used video formats. The lovely screen on the Playstation Portable is 16:9 and way better for video. Creative has a nice device as well…

However, the iPod is smaller, more portable, more sexy and something that I actually bring with me. Of course you won’t think of buying limited, low quality television shows from the iTunes Music Store when you can record them with no limitations in high quality for free. You just have to do a quick conversion to get them on to your sexy little player.

I’ll use a DVD as an example.

These are solutions for Windows only. Head over here for a Mac solution.

The free, but a bit slow method:

Convert Video to iPod

Rip the DVD with DVD Decrypter in IFO mode. Encode the movie to high quality Xvid using AutoGK. Transcode the Xvid to QuickTime H.264 using Videora iPod Converter.

Pros:
Free. You also get a high quality Xvid Rip.

Cons:
Slow. Not perfectly user friendly.

The around $30 and fast method:

Convert Video iPod 2

Buy and install PQ DVD to iPod Video Converter. Pop the DVD into the drive. Navigate to the movie and hit the “Record” button. Then PQ DVD to iPod Video Converter will convert the movie remarkably fast. This solution will also directly convert the DVR-MS files you record on your Windows Media Center Edition and a lot of other formats as well.

Pros:
Fast and user friendly. Supports DVR-MS.

Cons:

Not free.

Update:
This one looks promising: DVRBox (Thanks, Mark)
And, I am going to test the new CloneDVD Mobile from the excellent people at SlySoft.

Update2:
And here is another one that looks promising: ConvertMovie

Update3:
Pegasys had made another one: TMPG VideoSync

How to get video on to your iPod

Flying 8 hours with a video iPod and a kid

iPod in a plane

To stay 8 hours in a plane isn’t fun for anyone. Especially not for a kid. To stay sane on a direct flight from Oslo to New York you have to bring every possible time killer available. No comparison necessary, the winner was the new iPod with video playback. Loaded with lots of Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Teletubbies etc.

Griffin iPod Juice

Only one problem. It gives you 4-5 hours of video playback on one charge. As mentioned earlier – I’m in the US. It’s gadget time. CompUSA to the rescue. A little external box from Griffin Technologies. It’s called TuneJuice and is yours for $14.90 right now. One standard 9V battery gives you about 4 hours of extra juice.

I also considered a box from Belkin running on four AA batteries giving more power, but went for the small Griffin box after reading some reviews. Of course I can’t give you a proper description of my experience yet. You’ll have to wait until I have done the hard test: 3 + 8 hours on a plane on my way back from Florida to Oslo…

Coming up soon on eirikso.com:
- My experience in converting DVD and video to iPod files
The Griffin PowerMate – why I love this little wheel
Sleeptracker – does it work?

…and other stuff that I for some reason want to share. :-)

At the same time I recommend you to subscribe to my email updates or RSS feed. As you may have noticed, I don’t post huge amounts of articles. Checking back and checking back just to find nothing new is boring. An update subscription solves that!

Flying 8 hours with a video iPod and a kid