January 29, 2010

Demo: Touch keyboard on the iPad

Posted: 09:10 AM ET

After Apple unveiled the iPad on Wednesday in San Francisco, I squeezed into a crowded room of journalists to demo the lightweight computer that looks rather like a stretched-out iPhone.

My No. 1 goal: Try the keyboard.

The full-size, touch-screen keyboard on the iPad could make or break the device.

The iPad doesn't come with a hardware keyboard, like the one you probably have on your laptop or home PC. Neither does the iPhone, and it's worth noting that many people type on that device with relative ease. But, if, as Apple CEO Steve Jobs says, the iPad can be a device for reading and creating documents, spreadsheets and office presentations - if it aims to replace the laptop and netbook - then it has to be easy to type on.

The problem: It's not, at least not at first.

In a demo at Apple's invite-only event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs tapped away on the iPad keyboard using all of his fingers. He said typing on the device is "a dream." I found typing on the iPad to be rather cumbersome. Hardware keyboards are tactile. Your fingers can feel where they're supposed to be.

But if you're not looking at the iPad screen, then there's no way to know what you're typing until you see the errors popping up in your documents. I found myself choosing finger-strokes with anxious care, which slowed me down considerably - more than the iPhone keyboard does.

I chatted with some other tech reporters to see what they thought. Jacqui Cheng, associate editor at Ars Technica, said she had some similar issues and overall described typing on the iPad as "very frustrating." She's an adept iPhone typist, but said the iPad screen is too large to let users type with their thumbs, as many do on the much-smaller iPhone.

Other people said they found the keyboard on the iPad to be unexpectedly comfortable. It is large enough for average-sized hands when the 9.7-inch device is turned horizontally, which is rather unique. "I think it's amazing," Stephen Hutcheon, of the Sydney Morning Herald, said of the device in general. "It just sits really nicely in your hand. It's just a very intuitive feel."

The typing issues may work themselves out over time as people become more comfortable typing in this new way. And, according to one product rep, Apple will offer a $69 hardware keyboard that plugs into the iPad. (When Jobs announced the hardware keyboard at the press event, the man sitting next to me, a business-dressed market analyst, literally screamed with joy).

Still, the iPad is definitely a product you'll want to touch before buying.

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Filed under: Apple • iPad

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January 28, 2010

Apple Fanboy 2: Not impressed with the iPad

Posted: 03:58 PM ET
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Leading up to Apple's Wednesday announcement, I was pretty giddy. I’m in the market for a new laptop - or really a sub-notebook or netbook - so I was hoping this would fit the bill.

And hey, the iPad tablet computing device that Apple unveiled is pretty cool. It has a nice, big screen, a new and seemingly zippy processor, a new bookstore (the iBookstore) and even new iWorks apps to help you get stuff done. With the full-size, touch-screen keyboard and the Pages word processing app, I could easily take notes in meetings or even write blog posts with ease.

But I'm not sold. Apple's first-generation products are infamous for glitches, and there are some key features missing in the iPad Apple CEO Steve Jobs debuted this week.

So I’ll wait to see the next-gen device before I decide to buy or not.

Here’s why:

1) No camera. Um, what???

2) A 3G data connection is $129 extra plus $30 a month for unlimited data? No thanks.

3) The price. Sure, others are excited about the starting price of $499. But the high-end model, which I would want, doesn't seem worth it.

But what do you think? Did apple hit the mark, or miss it completely? What features were you surprised by and what are you annoyed isn’t there?

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Filed under: Apple • iPad

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Apple Fanboy 1: Why I (really!) need the iPad

Posted: 03:57 PM ET

After the Apple press event Wednesday, I sat back and watched Twitter and Facebook. I saw what we always see after one of these big gadget announcements: Two-thirds of the people who followed the event complained because the item that Apple announced, the iPad, did not live up to the hype.

The iPad was never going to live up to the hype for them.

Unless it was 100 different things to 100 different people, the item would always have some level of fail.

So, do I think the iPad perfect? Not even close. Is it what I thought it would be - and what I had hoped for?

Yes it was!

It is the perfect device for the person who uses his or her iPhone as their mobile computing device. But the iPad is better because it has a larger screen, more storage space, a faster processor and better graphics.

It doesn’t play Flash-format video. OMG! The iPhone has no Flash capabilities and we have dealt just fine with that. Besides, with the advent of HTML5 it will become less and less of an issue.

I do see the lack of a forward facing camera as a downside. I would think that the iPad would be perfect for video chatting.

I also don’t like that I cannot run multiple applications at the same time, but that’s also an issue we have dealt with on the iPhone. I am sure Apple will address it when they think it will not have an adverse effect on the user experience.

Will I buy one? Not sure yet. The price is not bad for the Wi-Fi only versions, but I’m not sure about it for the 3G/Wi-Fi ones. This really is one Apple device I’ll wait until I can play with before I try to convince my wife that we have to have it - or the world will come to an end.

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Filed under: Apple • iPad

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Everything you wanted to know about the iPad

Posted: 12:39 PM ET
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Maybe you missed Steve Jobs' announcement Wednesday about the iPad because you were, well, at your job. Maybe you still have questions about the tablet-size device, like why the name iPad? Maybe you want one place to get all your news about the much-hyped device, because you just can't get enough of it.

Well, here's a roundup of our latest coverage:


Filed under: Apple • computers

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January 27, 2010

Follow our live Apple iPad coverage

Posted: 02:35 PM ET
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CNN is filing updates from Apple's invite-only event in San Francisco, where Steve Jobs just announced the company's mysterious tablet device will be called an iPad.

Jobs: "It's the best browsing experience you've ever had. Way better than a laptop. Way better than a smartphone."

Follow along with CNNMoney's live blog or CNN Tech's Twitter feed.

Filed under: Apple

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January 26, 2010

Hacker says he's unlocked the PS3

Posted: 03:35 PM ET

More than three years after its initial release, the PlayStation 3 has allegedly been hacked.

George Hotz, aka "GeoHot," recently announced the feat on his blog. "I have read/write access to the entire system memory, and HV level access to the processor. In other words, I have hacked the PS3."

The practice of hacking or "modding" a video game console is fairly common. Directions to modify the Xbox and Xbox 360, and even instructional videos, can be found online. But the PS3 has remained largely secure.

"It's supposed to be unhackable - but nothing is unhackable," Hotz told BBC News.

Hotz, a 20-year-old American who is famous for his iPhone jailbreaking and unlocking software, has not yet released the PS3 exploit, but claims updates are coming.

Unlike cell-phone unlocking (which receives an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act), bypassing the DRM security of a video game system can be considered a violation of the DMCA, and "modders" have been arrested for circumventing anti-piracy measures in the past.

While speaking with BBC news, Hotz admitted the hack could allow people to run pirated games or homemade software, but says his motivation was primarily curiosity at "opening up the system."

"To tell you the truth, I've never really played a PS3," he said. "I have one game, but I've never really played it."

Update (1/27/10):

Hotz has decided to release the PS3 exploit on his blog:

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Filed under: DRM • Gaming • iPhone • piracy

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January 21, 2010

Data mining can help you get a date

Posted: 04:58 PM ET

If you think online dating profiles with self-shot camera-phone pictures that scream "Check out my MySpace!" look ridiculous, well, you are probably right, but, according to a statistical study by the dating site OKCupid, these comical self-portraits work.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="My impromptu attempt at a 'MySpace pic.' Note: Works better with women." width=292 height=282]OKCupid analyzed over 7,000 profiles of "average-looking people" to determine which pictures most successfully attracted other users.

In looking closely at the astonishingly wide variety of ways our users have chosen to represent themselves, we discovered much of the collective wisdom about profile pictures was wrong.

According to OKCupid, the statistical data reveals four myths about successful profile pictures. Perhaps most surprising of these myths is the discovery that "the universally maligned 'MySpace Shot,' taken by holding your camera above your head and being just so darn coy" actually works.

Christian of OKCupid writes:

We were sure that everyone thought these pictures were kinda lame. In fact, the prospect of producing hard data on just how lame got us all excited. But we were so wrong.

In terms of getting new messages, the MySpace Shot is the single most effective photo type for women.

Before you break out the camera phone for your personal glamor shoot, recognize that OKCupid did not rate the type of attention these images received, only the frequency of communication between users.

For a full description of the data analysis and the four myths check out The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures.

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Filed under: computers • Facebook • Internet • mobile phones • MySpace • online dating

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January 20, 2010

Sony delays its new PS3 controller

Posted: 12:51 PM ET
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 3

Sony has delayed the release of its motion controller for the PlayStation 3 until this fall.

The electronics company announced Wednesday it will release its new controller, originally promised for spring 2010, with games that can actually use the device. Those games will also need the PlayStation Eye camera, which will detect the movements and reflect them in the game.

A statement from Sony said the yet-unnamed controller will be released “in fall 2010 in Japan, Asian regions and countries, North America and Europe/PAL territories together with an extensive line-up of exciting software titles.”

The delay will no longer give Sony the jump on Microsoft’s expected release of its Project Natal system. The new motion-sensitive controller for the Xbox 360 is due to be released in the fourth quarter of 2010, in time for the holiday season.

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Filed under: Gaming • Sony

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January 13, 2010

Nintendo joins the movie-streaming party

Posted: 06:50 PM ET
Nintendo Wii
Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii becomes the latest gaming console to begin streaming films from Netflix.

Nintendo announced Wednesday that starting this spring, users will be able to stream movies from Netflix and watch them on their Wii. To start, Wii owners will need an instant-streaming disc for their console, which can be reserved now at The disc and the service are offered at no additional cost to Netflix subscribers.

Nintendo joins Sony and Microsoft in offering the service for their gaming consoles. Netflix said it has 11.1 million U.S. subscribers and is looking for more ways to let its customers watch movies and TV shows.

Cammie Dunaway, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Nintendo, said the partnership is a natural because of how Wii owners use their consoles.

“Eighty-six percent of the Wiis are in the living room,” Dunaway said. “The Wii is the only console where friends and family gather to play games and have fun.”

Dunaway said Nintendo sold more than 3 million Wiis in December and have over 26 million registered users. She said a significant number of Wii users were also Netflix subscribers, but didn’t want to say specifically how many.

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Filed under: Movies • Nintendo

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Conan vs. NBC online: I'm with Coco

Posted: 12:33 PM ET

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Artwork by Mike Mitchell" height="459"]Conan O'Brien issued a statement Tuesday criticizing NBC's decision to move his show back to 12:05 a.m. ET. The move, which will free up the 11:35 time slot for a half hour of Jay Leno, is seen as a slap in the face to O'Brien who took the reins of "The Tonight Show" just seven months ago, and his fans are responding online.

Earlier this week, O'Brien joked he may be performing "the show live every night from Zanies Comedy Club" where the audience would receive 1/2 price drinks if "you tell 'em "Coco" sent ya!" The sketch became a hit and spawned the Internet meme "I'm with Coco."

Pro-Conan artwork by Mike Mitchell is appearing on personal blogs and social news aggregators like Digg. #teamconan is topping Twitter's trending topics. has incorporated Conan's image into its ads. And the Reddit alien has been given Conan's signature gravity-defying haircut.

O'Brien can probably thank his younger audience and their proficiency with social media for his vocal online support, but Jay Leno reached a larger audience when he hosted "The Tonight Show."

Where do your loyalties lie?

Are you a die-hard Leno fan, or does NBC's decision to move "The Tonight Show" have you shouting "I'm with Coco!"

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Filed under: Digg • Internet • online news • pop culture

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Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

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