Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing ITY BITY BYTES WE 15 FEBRUARY


A brief roundup of interesting IT happenings and deals that didn’t warrant a full article.

Sound bars are becoming trendy (see iTWire article ). Serendipitously Sonos (mentioned in the iTWire article as a “future” player has finally released their Playbar and it looks sweet. It has 9 speakers and delivers 3.0 sound! It can also be expanded with a Sonos sub-woofer (3.1) and 2 x satellite speakers (5.1) and uses your Wi-Fi router to deliver sound. Connection to the TV is via optical audio out and Controller Apps are available for Android and iOS. RRP $999. We hope to review this shortly.


Apple is rumoured to be designing a “Dick Tracy” style smart watch that extends the functionality of an iPhone or iPad. Whilst not earth shattering news (you can use an iPod nano as a watch – pictured) the idea of extending the functionality of your iPad has great merit. The concept design is said to use a new type of flexible glass (i-glass or is that glass-i) and could be used to monitor health, extend Siri’s functionality and introduce gesture (AKA Kinect). However as with all micro devices battery life will be the key issue.




Wearable computing is likely to be a key direction as we see Google Glass in the wild. These rather cool looking visors will ultimately take precedent to ever larger screens. The prototype has speakers, microphone, web cam and a small transparent screen above one eye. Makes you wonder what’s next – the ProctoProd ™ perhaps.







On the subject Pebble’s e-paper watch for iOS and Android looks cool (RRP US$150) and has IT Journalists salivating (not hard to do – beer and food first, gadgets next). This is definitely a good use of extension technology and a suite of Apps will do things like: music control; golf course range finder; Caller ID; twitter feed; alarm, alerts and timer; and of course a watch. The rechargeable battery lasts about 7 days and it communicates via Bluetooth to your computing device.



Just repeating iTWire guru Stephen Withers warning to update Adobes Flash Player – do it NOW. Most systems will advise you of the update but if the update service is not turned on just go to and download. The latest version was released 12/2/13.

Vertu  has launched the latest must have Android smart phone at a cool £6,700 (US$10k). The Ti has a titanium frame, sapphire glass and loads of style – and it is made in England. It was formed by Nokia but in 2012 was sold to a private equity group. If you travel in places like Dubai it is the only phone to have if you are a rich shake, rattle and roll type. “If you have to ask the price you can’t afford it”.




LG has leaked some details of the 5.5” Optimus Pro. It features a 2.5D effect on its full HD display. LG (formerly Lucky Goldstar) phones don’t get the hype that Samsung or Nokia do but it makes competent and usually good value products. They already have a 5”, 13MP, Android version in Japan that’s selling well.

Microsoft’s first firmware update for Surface RT has been released. There are improvements in Wi-Fi connectivity and seems to perform a little faster. Owners will get it automatically via Windows Update. Of course that is good news for the two people who bought one in Australia.

The MS Surface Pro was awarded a “1 out of 10” repairability rating by iFixit (a DIY site in the US). “This kind of planned obsolescence is completely unnecessary” they said referring to the difficulty to get into the unit and make repairs. However iFixit also said that the iPad scored only marginally better with a 2 out of 10 rating. On a positive note iFixit complimented the Surface Battery “…rated for 7.4V– the Cadillac of batteries and twice as much capacity as the iPad”. However comparisons are odious as iPad uses an ARM processor. iFixit also rated the Apple MacBook Pro (Retina) as the least repairable laptop 1 out of 10 as it can’t really be upgraded after purchase” so the MS Surface Pro is in good company.

Bluestacks  announced a Windows 8 version of its Android App Plater optimised for Surface Pro (and runs on all other Win 7/8 Tablets). A Mac version is also in beta testing. Makes the Surface Pro feel like the RT – why would you do that?

Adobe cut the cost of the Creative Cloud suite to AU$50 – actually cheaper than the US if you take GST into account. Adobe, MS and Apple (see iTWire article here) were summonsed to appear before an Australian parliamentary committee on pricing – is this a sign of things to come.

LG have released a charging orb for the Nexus 4 smartphone.  It is on the Google Play online store for US$60. It’s a Qi inductive charging device so there may be some compatibility with existing Qi devices too (like the energiser potable power series ).




Android 4.2.2 has been formally announced (12/2/13) and should be available for Google Nexus 7 or 10 based devices shortly. There is no public change list so we don’t know what is in the new version but some of the features are shown here

Hard disks are the latest to take a price tumble with 4TB drives now in good supply pushing down prices of smaller capacity drives. Seen around town was a 4TB Hitachi Deskstar at $300 and a 3TB at $200 (down approx. 10% over the past 2 weeks). Western Digital and Toshiba 3TB have been seen as low as $130. OEM drives (lower cost models from Seagate, Samsung and WD) - 1 and 2 TB (the staple of most white box assemblers) are now starting from $55 and $85 respectively.

Another staple 4GB DDR3 RAM is hovering at around $15-16 (down slightly from the last couple of weeks).

MacBook Pro gets refresh and a price drop. The entry level 13” with Retina display (there are cheaper models without this), 2.5GHz Intel i5 dual core processor, 8GB/128GB SSD is AU$1,649 and the 2.6GHZ/256GB is AU$1,849. The entry level 15” with Retina display, 2.4GHz Intel i7 quad core processor and 8GB/128GB SSD is $2,499. A 2.7GHz model with 16/512GB is $3,199. Opinion: Apple is the NOT “good guy” here for reducing prices – memory and component prices have been dropping faster than Julia’s opinion polls and Apple has been quietly selling out older stock using a variety of incentives in an effort to keep RRP as high as possible. And they have realised that the cheaper iPad has really cannibalised their Mac sales. Yawn… See a more exciting article on this by Stephen Withers


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!