Christmas Gadgets: GoPro, Olloclip, and Kindle Fire

This holiday season was filled with another round of cool gadgets. If most people know me…I love gadgets and love playing with new toys. So this year, the three presents that come to mind are the GoPro Hero2 camera, Olloclip lens adapter for the iPhone4(s), and the Kindle Fire. Sarah gave me the GoPro Hero2 and the Olloclip for my iPhone4s and I gave her the Kindle Fire. So here are some first thoughts after having this gadgets for a short period of time after the Christmas gift exchanges.

GoPro Hero2
This is a great little video camera for those of you video enthusiast. You can purchase this item anywhere from BestBuy, B&H Photo Video online, GoPro.com, or numerous other places online or brick and mortar stores. This will be the one gadget in my “Go Bag” for video shoots this year providing new perspectives as a second camera during interviews and/or when trying to grab interesting shots. GoPro is most famous for being used in extreme sports like surfing, sky diving, snow boarding, and even on planes for interesting shots.

What I Like:

  1. LOVE THE WIDE ANGLE – 170 degree view!
  2. This is a compact camera about the size of a D Battery and can capture video and still images.
  3. Records video at 1080p 30 frames per second and numerous other smaller resolutions.
  4. Captures still images with at 11 megapixels.
  5. I love the waterproof case (up to 197 feet), perfect for recording white water rafting.
  6. The mount with sucution cup…already used it on the front of my car.(CLICK HERE to watch)
  7. Comes with built in microphone.
  8. Has an audio input.
  9. Has a built in HDMI out.
  10. The digital still camera can take pictures in intervals over a period of time for time lapse.
  11. Makes for great second camera in video shoots for wide angle perspective.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. Wish the LED Screen was not an ad-on but a standard part of the camera.
  2. Wish the actual camera had a mountable connection, instead of having to put camera in case to be mounted.
  3. Low light is always going to be an issue with these small image processors. But it still does a decent job.
  4. The waterproof case does not allow you to plug in a a microphone into the audio input.

If you would like to look at the complete description of the camera, CLICK HERE.

Olloclip for iPhone
For you camera/video enthusiasts, the Olloclip is a great addition to your iPhone4 or 4s. This attachment allows you to take the iPhone camera to the next level. It is a wide angle and fisheye adapter that allows you to take images and capture video from a wider perspective. I have been searching for something like this, then I found it in my stocking this year.

What I Like:

  1. Easy slide on and off of the attachment.
  2. Two lens in one attachment. You can flip the attachment around from wide angle to fisheye.
  3. Clear images with this simple slide on attachment as a lens.
  4. Makes the iPhone4(s) a great second camera in video shoots since it acquires the image at 1080p.
  5. The wide angle lens can be removed to make provide a macro lens.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. You have to remove your case of choice to use this attachment. Love to see this company make a case where this attachment integrates as a part of a bigger offering.
  2. Easy to accidentally grab the iPhone in a way where you can get finger prints on the lens.
  3. The adapter slides around sometimes which can distort the image and/or create some artifacts.

You can check out the FAQ’s about the Olloclip by CLICKING HERE.

Kindle Fire
I bought this e-reader for Sarah this Christmas, she loves my iPad but wanted something smaller to read books. Bottom line, this is and e-reader built around reading books from Amazon. If purchase as a tablet like an iPad, you will be annoyed. The tech community might “root” this device and install the complete Android platform, but for the non-tech users…this is not built to be a tablet. I would say this is similar in size to the Samsung Galaxy Tab. So here are some of Sarah’s first impressions. By the way, many of her comparisons stem from my “original” iPad3G.

What she likes:

  1. Size – she likes the ability to hold it in one hand.
  2. Convenience of being able to buy/purchase book and read immediately.
  3. The rewards program – Her Amazon Prime membership allows her to “borrow” one book a month which they term as the “The Lending Library”.
  4. It is backlit to read book at night with no bed side lamp.
  5. It comes with install apps like Facebook, Amazon, and Pulse news reader.
  6. When you go to the “store,” it provides recommended books across the top…similar to the Amazon.com experience.

What she dislikes:

  1. Battery life seems to dwindle fast.
  2. The power cord is not that long (4 feet long). Need to be close to an outlet if the battery dwindles down fast.
  3. The power button is on the bottom, so unwanted bumps cause it to shut off.
  4. The power cord plugs in the bottom and can get in the way when holding.
  5. Not as responsive as the iPad when touching hyperlinks.
  6. Web browsing is not as responsive as the original iPad.

So there ya go…love to here your thoughts!

“Social Media Return On Investment” – The Mobile Device Industry

With the iPhone4S to be released tomorrow for millions of Americans…we cannot wait to tap into this new device. As we look through the specs of this new, faster mobile device…we see that has the HSDPA technology built in stating that it can leverage up to 14.4Mbps download speeds. Now, there are many that have tested this feature in large, metro areas stating that these speeds in reality are not half this speed. But there are Android phones like the Droid Bionic that are tapping into the Verizon 4G LTE network with faster download speeds.

Yes…our mobile devices can access the network faster and faster and faster. Reading through the OnQ blog by Qualcomm as they address this explosion of social media technologies:

“With all this expansion, one lingering question on everybody’s mind is ‘will the wireless networks be able to keep up with this growth?’ The obvious answer is a resounding YES. As I have explained in these blogs, 3G/4G networks are well equipped now, and evolving in the future, to address the massive increase in the sheer volume of data growth.”

Nielsen release their 3rd Quarter 2011 Social Media Report with some interesting stats on mobile device usage: “The ability to access social media is a commonly used feature among mobile owners. According to a recent study by NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey Company, nearly 2 in 5 social media users access these services from their mobile phones.”

Here is how social media access ranks against other features offered on their mobile devices (from Nielsen’s 3rd Quarter 2011 Social Media Report):

The above statistics suggest we are access social media outlets on our mobile devices more than access the web. WOW!

In Steven Van Belleghem presentation “Social Media Around the World” on slide 140 states, “56% of smart phone users follow a brand on social media.”

What does all this mean…people are accessing information via smart phones. People are heavily using social media outlets on their smart phones, creating data transfer which demands more bandwidth. The more the usage, the more the demand. This demand is fueling the growth of the mobile network. You think you see a lot of advertisements between the major carriers talking about 4G, 4G LTE, unlimited data, throttling…you need to start researching this information. We are data transfer hogs and connecting to others via our smart phones. This is fueling the growth in our networks, which is leading to large investments in the mobile infrastructure and mobile gadgets like iPhones and Droids.

Prakash Sangam, Senior Manager, Technical Marketing at Qualcomm, continues his explanation on the OnQ blog post:

“As has been very well established by now, smartphones are the key drivers for this increase in data demand. When you take a close look under the hood, interesting facts emerge about smartphone usage behavior and the corresponding network resource utilization.

Unlike the connected laptop or computer, smart phones connect intermittently to the network, and generate very small amounts of extremely bursty traffic. For example, when you check for updates from email programs or from social media apps (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), check weather, use location based services, send presence updates for IMs… and many more activites — often described as “chatty apps.”

Every time these apps get updates, the smartphone has to establish the connection, do the data transfer and tear down the connection, which means lot of signaling. Often that means more signaling than actual data transfers. There have been many studies on this, validating the fact that smartphone-generated signaling overwhelms wireless networks. The trend of vastly popular social media going mobile will only further amplify this effect.”

Our smart phone usage combine with our social media usage via these devices is fueling the growth of these data networks. These major carriers are banking on social media usage, connectivity, and ultimately our desire to continue to want to purchase the newest gadget for the faster speeds.

So, why did Apple release the iPhone 4S instead of the big jump to the iPhone 5? Well, many speculate…but here is an interesting perspective from Business Insider:

“If Apple had launched a radically new iPhone 5, more of the folks who currently own iPhone 4 would have upgraded, so Apple would have sold some more 4S units. As it is, the iPhone 4S is likely to appeal primarily to iPhone 3G and 3GS owners, non-smartphone owners, and non-iPhone owners, most of whom (like me) are presumably stoked to buy the iPhone 4S.”

Here is the game…get more people on faster networks, faster infrastructure, and newer technology. These mobile devices, their speed, their apps, and their access  to faster networks fuels consumers to access social outlets like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social applications. The real social media return on investment is the mobile technology and infrastructure that supports the connectivity.

*Blog header image from Yugatech.com.

The iPhone4S Conundrum: iCloud and Final Cut Pro Conflicts

Yes…all of us Apple devices addicts, we are excited about the iPhone4S release. I have already pre-ordered my new little device…I am a gadget freak. I think I am going to give Sarah (the wife) my iPhone4. I ordered the white version so we can distinguish the two. But, here is where Apple has me pinned…and what makes Steve Jobs a brilliant business man and entrepreneur.

My iPhone4S probably, maybe will not integrate with my Contacts and Final Cut Pro workflow. You are saying what? Well, if you are a video professional like me, you will read more!

So here are the Apple Products I use:
1) MacBook Pro 15″ purchased this summer (2011) with Snow Leopard (10.6.8)
2) MacPro from 2009 with Snow Leopard (10.6.8)
3) iPhone4
4) iPad 3G (First Generation)
5) Final Cut Pro 6.0.6
6) MobileMe (Sync Contacts & Other Preferences)

So the two things that are messing me up with this new upgrade to the iPhone4S, the fact it will be delivered the same day the iCloud product is released, which will also replace my MobileMe account. In order to use iCloud, the service that will now replace MobileMe account which syncs my contacts between devices…I have to use the new operating system on my Mac Computers, know as Lion (10.7). Yes…I would have to upgrade my operating systems on both computers if I want my contacts to sync between devices using my Address Book app on these devices…Apple’s preferred and default application for contacts.

To most of you…that is a no brainer! Just upgrade and be done with it. Right? NO!

I also use FinalCut Pro 6.0.6 which can only run on the operating system Snow Leopard (10.6.8) and all subsequent operating systems. This is a big deal. Apple has released the new Final Cut X for the new operating system Lion (10.7). BUT, it is 1/4th the original price and is not a professional grade video editing system (NLE).  I cannot up-convert years and years….thousands and thousands of dollars of production to the new Final Cut X. Many think this is Apple’s push to get out of the professional editing business and focus on the pro-sumer and consumer. If you want to read the detailed review of Final Cut Pro X…here is a GREAT REVIEW! CLICK HERE to read why upgrading to Final Cut X is not a solution to professionals like me.

Now I also edit using Avid Media Composer for heavy compositing and 3D editing…but not for basic video workflows. Plus, we are waiting for Avid to release the new Avid Media Composer for Lion (10.7). It takes a while for this high end, hollywood video editing solution to test and release the newest version. They are waiting for the quarks in Lion (10.7) to get worked out.

So…for those video professionals who want a iPhone4S, use FinalCut Pro 6.0.6 (professional standard), and sync contacts in Address Book…here is what I have found as a solution:

1) Apple is apparently going to release a new Snow Leopard update (10.6.9) which will integrate with iCloud, so we can utilize the limited capabilities of syncing between devices.
2) Run a dual-boot system where you partition your Mac’s to run:
– Partition One – Lion (10.7) for basic computer solutions and syncing with iCloud
– Partition Two – Snow Leopard (10.6.x) for video editing solutions with FinalCut Pro or Avid products.

Here is an an article showing how some believe there is a Snow Leopard 10.6.9 update on the way that will integrate with iCloud: CLICK HERE for the article.

So…I am in limbo. Yes…waiting for October 14th. This is the day when my new iPhone4S should arrive, the day iCloud should be released, and hopefully the day when the new Snow Leopard (10.6.9) should be released. We will see. I have some serious decisions to make based on the events of the next week for business workflow and video production workflow.

OK…for all you Droid people out there who are saying the “open” platform…I hear ya. I do run my business off Google Apps including business class email, documents, and calendars. BUT, I do not really like the Droid based products and the platform. Plus…there are many articles this is not really an open platform. To me, the Android user interface is not for me and not what I consider intuitive for my needs. Plus…I have way too much money invested in my current workflow and technology.

So why does this conundrum make Steve Jobs and Apple such a wonderful brand story? Because, their business practices have me in this dedicated conundrum and internal debate. Because…I love the products, willing to pay for the technology, and find enough value in the Apple solutions to research how to make these products work for me. That is why millions of other production professionals like me will continue to invest in these products. We want the newest Apple gadget and willing to pay the financial price and the integration issues to have these gadgets.

Let the waiting game begin…off to the Apple Forums and discussion boards.