So we’ve done 20 episodes of this thing. That in of itself seems unpossible. For those of you who have been with us since the beginning- thanks! Those of you just joining us- welcome! We hope you enjoy hearing about all this craziness. This week we’ve got tons and tons of robot helicopter related stuff. Andrew has a thing for helicopters big and small and capable of ensaving and imprisoning us. Iyaz joined in for just the most fleeting of moments and helped us decipher the mystery of 3D chalk from Crayola. Also, find out why Aric is going to be a crazy old hermit living in a cyborg-free reservation in Oregon someday. Oh! Don’t forget to send us your Vibrator designs! We know we have a talented audience so show us your stuff! Links to everything in the show are below!
Still a little worn out from CES, but riding the high of the Steeler’s and Jet’s playoff wins we push forward to bring you more excellence in technology. Andrew shocks everyone with a rant about forcing people to depend on AT&T’s wireless network for possible life saving medication and Derrick waxes nostolgic about Aric’s little red dress. Most shockingly though Aric is completely unenthused about this week’s ‘Mac is Whack’ segment. It’s at this point we make a terrible discovery: Aric has become a tablet snob and is now completely uninterested by anything not involving his Galaxy Tab. He’ll be back when he finds out Samsung isn’t upgrading it to Honeycomb. All that plus butt washing goodness in this week’s exciting Gmen show.
We’re exhausted and more than a few of us are sick, but we push through it to bring you all the best of CES 2011.
There’s an interesting post over at Tech Crunch by my Apple loving (that is true) nemesis (that is not), MG Siegler. It’s a piece on the two weeks he spent with the new Nexus S. Something he wrote struck a chord with me and awakened a question that’s been building up in me for the last year or so. MG writes that the Nexus S had the second best camera he had seen on a phone, the iPhone obviously taking top honors. Now, as much as I love to argue with fanboys, especially disciples of Cupertino, I have to agree: When it comes to taking quality photos, the iPhone is king.
I was blown away by the iPhone 4’s camera when I first saw it. The iOS camera software has always had a knack (comparatively) for getting focused pictures. On the original and 3G models It worked almost well enough to make you forgive the step-behind-the-game resolution and incredible amount of time it took to launch – almost. The 4th revision, however, just nailed it. Definitively disproving the megapixel myth, its pictures were sharp and colors were vibrant and accurate. More so than any other phone out there, including those with 8 megapixels. Take a look at some sample shots.
So what’s my point? If the camera is so amazing and that’s what’s important to you why not just buy an iphone 4 and be done with it? Well, I almost did. For me, the camera is single most important feature on a phone, just barely ahead of web browser. Just look at all the photos you’ve taken in the last year. What percentage were taken with your phone? 50%? Probably more like 80% or 90%. Why? Not to blow your mind or anything, but it’s because you had it with you. When I was choosing a phone to replace my iPhone 3G, I went back and forth between the HTC Evo and iPhone 4. I spent a ridiculous amount of time comparing the two. Most of that time looking at sample photographs taken with the two. One thing was obvious: The iPhone was the camera champ. In the time since I made my decision back in August, I have checked out photo samples from every new phone that comes out and still, nothing approaches the iPhone 4.
I really want a handset maker to put a better, iPhone quality, camera in a phone. So why don’t they? You. It’s your fault. Not you, specifically. Well, maybe partly you specifically, but you, as in, consumers. You don’t care enough. If you take a look at your local wireless carrier of choice you’ll see that the price point for smart phones has been decided: $199 or less. That’s what AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile and all the others have decided you’re willing to pay for a phone when signing up for a 2 year contract. It’s a simple equation; make phones with features that most people are happy with for a price those people are willing to pay. Trying to create phones tailored to every possible user would obviously be impractical.
What about the rest of us? Those who want something better? Right now we have to choose what’s more important. I wanted a big screen and a great camera. In august, when I was looking for a new phone, it boiled down to essentially 2 categories:
1. iPhone 4 – small screen, great camera.
2. Evo, DroidX, Galaxy S and Streak – big screen, average camera
Faced with these options I chose screen size with Android’s flexibility breaking the tie. Now, most of you know that didn’t exactly work out to great for me, I ended up paying the early adopter fine on the Dell Streak. However, the point is not what I chose, but that I had to choose at all. That choice left me with 1 1/2 of my major needs (big screen, but only decent camera) met or about 75% satisfied. If all cars were the same price, would you take one that you weren’t totally satisfied with? Of course not. In that same situation, would you take a car you were mostly happy with and pay extra to upgrade a feature of great importance to you? If they could afford it, most would pay for complete satisfaction. So why, in this world where phones are becoming more and more an invaluable piece of our daily lives, are we not demanding options? By all accounts modern smart phones are like PCs in your pocket. For a long time, most consumers went to a big box store and picked up a prebuilt PC and went home. Now millions of people go to sites like Dell and HP and custom design a machine to their needs and budget. Why not do the same with phones? Is battery life important to you? 3.7” AMOLED screen and a 800Mhz processor. Eye Strain and sending a lot of attachments? 1.2 Ghz dual core processor and a 4.3” screen. Don’t wanna carry around a separate point-and-shoot? 8mp camera module with a high end sensor. And so on.
The machines that come off the line at Dell are probably 90% the same inside, but that last 10% is the difference between being mostly satisfied and completely satisfied. Having a phone you are truly happy with is becoming more and more important as we become more dependant on them. Especially with carriers force us to hang on to them for increasingly longer periods. Of course you’ll have to pay more for this, at least in the beginning. It would require a fundamental change in the design and manufacturing process of smart phones. But you get what you pay for. Just like when building a PC, it will be up to you to balance features against price. Just as the PC market evolved as demand grew, so should the smart phone market.
So you tell me: would you pay more for the ability to customize your phone? How much more would you pay? What would you upgrade? Am I nuts? Leave your responses in the comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or @thegmenshow on twitter. Let me know if I’m on to something or just complaining.
Phew. This has been a pretty wild year; filled with geeky gagdets, techno toys, and awesomely cool deodorant ads 😉 So here are some of my favorite things that I think about when the dog bites or the bee stings, or just when I’m feeling sad.
2. Xbox Kinect: Though still 1st gen and a little rough around the edges, the functionality and possibility of this controller-free, gesture-based system are staggering. The future is now.
3. CR48/Chome OS: After only having it a few weeks, I’m already convinced: this is what netbooks should’ve been. Thin, fast, light, easy-to-use, nothing more than a web browser with a keyboard. Not a perfect fit for everyone, but certainly better than those bloated mini-laptops we’ve been seeing.
4. Self-publishing: While not at all new, this industry has grown by leaps and bounds with the recent explosion of ebooks and ereaders. Now you can become a published author and make your books available world-wide without ridiculous fees or huge overstock.
5. 4G: I haven’t been lucky enough to have access to these “mythically” fast wireless broadband speeds, the thought that I could get “real” high speed internet where my DSL provider refuses to go, has me drooling in my sleep. Now if only they would remove those silly useage caps…
There have been a lot of remarkable pieces of technology released this year. Unfortunately, we didn’t cover most of them because we were busy with off road high heels and boil buoys. Fortunately, we stopped giggling at the vibrator chess set long enough to realize we should add some real content so you, the wonderful and dedicated reader that you are, can get your money’s worth out of this show.
First off: the good. For me it was really exciting to see all the innovation in the cell phone space, most noteably by the Android headset makers. It all started when the Nexus one debuted Android 2.1 a few days before CES 2010 and leap-frogged the iPhone, setting new smart phone hardware standards. Google and company never looked back. The race was on with hardware makers seeking to best each other. It seemed like we had a new ‘superphone’ coming out every other month: The Incredible, Evo 4G, Galaxy S series and DroidX all topped off with the recent addition of the Nexus S.
In addition, we saw the introduction of Windows Phone 7. Despite sales being comparably slower then Apple and Google’s platforms, the experts agree: This OS has legs. If Microsoft can overcome Windows Mobile’s reputation they will grab a sizeable piece of the market. The early WP7 front runners seem to be the Samsung Focus and HTC HD7. With an approach combining aspects of both iOS and Android I believe Windows Phone 7 will be the product to watch in 2011. Want something more concrete? Here it is, my official prediction: WP7 will claim 20-25% of the US smart phone market by the end of 2011.
So we, the consumer, have really benefited. There are a lot of great phones out there now. Unfortunately, I didn’t get one of them. Not that the Streak isn’t a great piece of hardware – it is. However, the build of Android 1.6 it shipped with was a glitchy disappointment. Maybe things would have turned out differently if AT&T could get their crap together and push out Dell’s shiny new Froyo release. You know, the one people with an unlocked device and users in the UK have had for a month. More on carriers later.
A few other things that I loved. First off, my mobile app of the year. Even though I switched to Android in August, my app of the year is on iOS: oO Tunes. One of the things I miss most about Columbus is my radio station, CD101. Any station in Sacramento that even approaches being decent gets killed off within months. Apparently there just aren’t enough alternative music fans in the 916 to make a station viable. With oO Tunes I can stream CD101, or just about any other terrestrial station, over 3G. Love. It.
My final like for this year is the Dipr. Remember this? It was the spoon that lets you submerge the whole Oreo (or Hydrox, if your parents didn’t love you) without putting your disease riddled fingers in the milk. Genius!
And now some fail. We covered a lot of fail here on the Gmen this year. In fact, we built a show around it. Like the spray on shirt. Those guys are lucky there was partial female nudity in that video, otherwise I’d have stuck those spray cans right up their snooty French butts for inventing something so stupid. How about that 3D hologram that is supposed to remind you that kids are dumb and occasionally run in to the street without a sense of self preservation or the appreciation for the pristine condition of the hood on your ’98 Dodge Stratus? Not running over kids is a great idea, but I’m 99.879% sure this will actually lead to an increase in car accidents of the rear-ending variety. Now that I think about it, it’s probably a scam cooked up by personal injury attorneys. So go ahead and run little Holo-Suzy down when she chases that ball into the street. It’ll be cathartic.
Next, a bit of a rant on one of my least favorite topics: wireless carriers. They suck. All of them. Verizon has tons of coverage, but not enough to justify their ridiculous prices, having the slowest data speeds and loading their phones up with proprietary crapware. To top it off, they got together with Google and asked the FCC to let them have free reign over wireless data networks. The nerve! Next is AT&T. Fastest data speeds of all the carriers …for that one guy who can get a signal. Sprint and T-Mobile have great customer service, a great selection of top phones and 4G (although T-Mobile is stretching the definition of 4G a bit). Awesome, except they’re tiny. If you exist in a region covered by them, consider yourself lucky. The rest of us will just have to deal.
Finally, my ‘Full of Fail Champion 2010’: Tokyo Flash! There wasn’t anyone else even remotely close to this award in my eyes. The Japanese watch maker provided us with material for nearly every show, single handedly filling the ‘Watch Watch’ segment. I don’t think they created a single product this year that didn’t make us here at the Gmen unanimously say, “WTF?”. That takes dedication. So congrats. Your trophy is in the mail.
And to you out there in gadget land, thanks for hanging out with us. Thanks for the feedback and thanks for being awesome in general. I never thought I’d get this off the ground. Last year at CES, doing show was just a pipe dream of mine. To see how far its come, from a drunken shouting matching in a cab between me and Iyaz, to certifiable podcast with listeners and everything, is awesome. Even though we’re just getting started, 2010 has been a blast. Here’s to a great 2011! See you then!
…if I can figure out how to tell the time with my new Tokyo Flash watch.
Ahh… potty humor. Without it we probably wouldn’t have a show. This week I mean that literally. We have one of the most awesome things to come out of Japan since Ultraman: the Toy-let! It’s even better than it sounds. We also have disappearing dresses, drink dispensing dresses, and so much more. Have a listen to Aric, Derrick and Andrew crack themselves up as special guest Joshua Caleb watches in stunned silence. It’s well worth it.
Drink Dispensing Dress
Rubick’s Cube USB U(seless)SB
Spinal Pain Implant
Kinect Groping Game
Necronomicon Toys (Is it Phallic)
Spray on Stem Cells
Wow. You guys are never gonna believe this, but -actually, if you have heard the show before you will totally believe this- we didn’t have the gadget list again this week so we roll with Jordan’s suggestions. The show starts off with an amusing anecdote from Andrew about why there is no gadget list again this week. It’s much better than a simple ‘I sent it to the wrong person’ story. Joining us this week is Stephen Johnson of New Brew Thursday. We bring up one of Stephen’s topics, beer, and get so off the rails we had to make it a bonus that you’ll see later this week. What we do have is Creepy prosthetics, piano gloves and a MOTHER @$^@#!ING RAIL GUN!!!! Sorry, I would write more, but I have to learn karate to defend myself against the knife wielding robot. Check it out. Or don’t. We’re not pushy.
Sorry no one link. The site was shut down because it was too easy for spammers to abuse. Spamming Bastards.
So, here’s the thing: Every week I keep track of all the awesome stuff I want to talk about on the show and email the spread sheet to myself. Then I stick it in a google doc and we all get together and edit it. Now I know what you’re saying and I can’t get to google docs at work so that’s why I e-mail it to myself. Okay, smarty pants? Anyway, instead of emailing it to me, Andrew; I emailed it to a Mendecino county social worker. She was pretty puzzled, but amused. So because of that we were left with only Jordan’s suggestions. We (and by “we” I mean Iyaz) decided just to go with it. This week’s show is the result. BIG GUNS! BIG BIKES! BIG… SHOES? On this week’s GMEN!
One Link – All links in tabs in one browser window
Lightcycle USB Drive – U(seless)SB