iPhone 6 pre-order day madness

iPhone6-and-iPhone6plus
As advertised by Apple, today (Friday 12th September) is the first day that you can pre-order your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

Next week on Friday 17th September you will be able to actually purchase your phone. Those who have pre-ordered their phone will be able to collect them on that day; whether they are sent out before the 17th for any on-line orders so that they arrive on the day is unknown.

And as expected (like every year) the UK phone provider sites are struggling to keep up with the frenzy that is now ensuing.

The EE site was totally unresponsive from 8:00 am this morning and although I can now get to the penultimate page in pre-ordering the phone I cannot get all of the way through to find out what there “in-contract” phones cost instead you get the under maintenance page.

The O2 site is now back up bad gives up if you click on the pre-order iPhone 6 link.

The Apple site is now up and gives you the standalone price of the phone, to recap these are:

  • iPhone 6 with 16GB: £539
  • iPhone 6 with 64GB: £619
  • iPhone 6 with 128GB: £699
  • iPhone 6 Plus with 16GB: £619
  • iPhone 6 Plus with 64GB: £699
  • iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB: £789

Strangely Vodafone have managed their demand and at the time of creation of this post you can select any of their iPhone 6’s in any size, colour and capacity. I have managed to get all of the way through and the iPhone 6 plus with 128GB isn’t as expensive as I thought it would be if you pick one of their Red 4G contracts:
Vodafone 4G-2

This is more than I am paying now but not excessively more and the Red contract prices are fixed for the initial term of the contract. So for the first 2 years it won’t go up but could after this time but at that point you’ll be looking at a new phone or a lower cost contract anyway.

Apple’s September Announcements

Introduction

I was hoping to post something on my blog yesterday about this but it took a lot longer to see everything announced, longer than it should have!

I like to watch Apple announcements live or if not available watch the stream that is usually available shortly after the live announcement. Apple seems to be making live streams of their events available and like the WWDC earlier this year, the September iPhone announcement was made available.

So with anticipation I waited until 6PM (BST) and waited and waited, I refreshed the browser and the event had already started. Worst was that I could hear a couple of oriental (Japanese?, Chinese? I couldn’t be sure) just in the background translating everything being said, they were audible enough to be annoying. So I refreshed the browser again and then it got worse as I got the holding page again – NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

So I picked up the iPad and that was no better, it would play some of the announcement and then play the annoying intro video then more of the announcement followed by the increasingly annoying intro video again and then that was it.

I tried a few more times on the iMac and the iPad but gave up.

So I waited a few hours and then went to the Apple Events page – it said that the video of the live stream would be available shortly, I tried again about every hour until this message went and the most recent video available here was the WWDC one. It was getting late so I went to bed.

I awoke at about 3am the next day and woke the sleeping iMac – still no video on the events page so I googled and found a direct link to the live stream – unfortunately the cat was out of the bag by now I knew what was coming so the video was not as revealing as it could have been.

So what was announced and what do I think?

iPhone 6
As was expected the annual update to the iPhone was announced – the iPhone 6. This year it has grown in size from 4″ to 4.7″ and has a much faster CPU and graphics processor courtesy of the A8 chip which has double the transistor count and is physically smaller too. The new phone has an improved camera, faster ac based WiFi, faster LTE connectivity and NFC for the Apple-pay feature. The M8 co-processer has been improved too and is also faster. To accommodate the larger size the power button has moved down to the right-hand side of the phone (nice :) ).

The change in dimensions has allowed Apple to make the device thinner and is now only 6.9mm thick, the former iPhone 5s is 7.6mm thick however the weight has increased slightly from 112g (for the iPhone 5s) to 129g.

The new larger screen is what Apple call “Retina HD” and has a resolution of 1334×750 pixels which is a density of 326ppi. The iPhone 5s has a resolution of 1136×640 at the same density of 326ppi.

Apple has also changed the model line-up, so we have a 16GB model (£539), 64GB (£619) and 128GB (£699). They are available in the same colours as the current iPhone 5s (Silver, Gold and Space Gray). The 64GB model replaces the 32GB and the 128GB is now the top-end model (usurping the prior 64GB model).

The iPhone 6 is available to buy on 19th September (in UK) and can be pre-ordered from 12th September – tomorrow.

iPhone6-and-iPhone6plus

iPhone 6 plus
The iPhone 6 Plus is the rumoured larger version of the iPhone. This has all of the same internal features of the iPhone 6 but with a much larger display, an optically stabilised camera lens and better battery life to boot.

The iPhone 6 plus has a 5.5″ screen and like the 6, this is also called Retina HD which is more apt as the resolution is 1920×1080 on this device, this is a pixel density of 401ppi.

Being a larger device means that it is slightly thicker than the iPhone 6 at 7.1mm (but still thinner than the iPhone 5s) and it weighs in at 172g

Like the iPhone 6 , the 6 Plus has 3 models and 3 colours too; the 16GB model is £619, the 64GB model is £699 and the 128GB iPhone 6 plus costs a staggering £789. They are available in the same colours as the current iPhone 5s (Silver, Gold and Space Grey).

These are also available to buy on 19th September (in UK) with pre-orders from 12th September.

Please note that these are the full retail prices for the phones and will be cheaper if purchased with a contract. They can be purchased from Apple’s retail stores as well as O2, Vodafone, EE, Hutch, GiffGaff, Virgin, TalkMobile and other authorised Apple resellers (the 3 network is notable by its absence).

Of the two models this is the one I prefer, I had a Lumia 920 a year ago and I miss the larger screen, but the extended battery life and optical stabilisation mixed with the large screen iOS8 enhancements make this the model that I want. Although my first though was to go for the 128GB model the 64GB model might be enough; I guess this comes down to availability and cost. Unfortunately my contact isn’t up for renewal until the beginning of next year although this will help with the availability side of things and I should be abel to get any colour I want too.

iPhone6-with-iOS8

iOS8 release date
iOS 8 will be released on the 17th September, I was hoping that it would be earlier (like this week) but its just under a week to wait.

This version of the iOS software will work with most of the Apple iOS devices out there:

  • iPhone 4S
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5S
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPad 2
  • iPad 3
  • iPad 4
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Mini
  • iPad Mini 2
  • iPod Touch 5G

Apple Pay
This is a secure built-in technology that utilises the iPhone6/iphone 6 plus’s NFC in conjunction with passbook to pay for items at certain US retail and online stores. This could be very interesting if it takes off but as it is an Apple only technology I don’t see this happening unless of course the stores in question can use the infrastructure for other NFC based payment systems too.

iPhone6-with-ApplePay

As is usual with this kind of service it is US only at the moment and Apple hope to roll this out to other parts of the world later. I remember this statement was made about iTunes Radio over a year ago and we are still to see this in the UK. :(

Apple Watch
This was another rumoured device incorrectly called the “iWatch”, I think that Apple Watch is a better name anyway. This is an accessory for users of iPhones (models: 5, 5s, 5c, 6 and 6+ only) and won’t be available until early next year. The price will be from $349; this equates to about £300 in the UK but we don’t know the precise cost at the moment as Apple has not revealed these yet.

AppleWatch

There are going to be three ranges (Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition) and each range will have two sizes and a range of colours too. Finally there will be many different styles of straps in ranges of colours and materials. The total number of variations must be in the hundreds. Apple have developed a rather simple an innovative way of changing the straps so this can be changed if needed or desired. While the watch isn’t waterproof it is splash proof.

I look forward to seeing these as I would like to have one but I need to see what they are like to wear, although I would prefer the larger of the two sizes (simply easier to see and use) I might have to go for the smaller one as I have small girly wrists.

It has also been noted (it was the first question I had) that the battery life of the new watch has not been revealed, this usually isn’t good and compounded with Tim’s statement that it needs charging overnight tends to suggest that it will only last a day – we’ll have to wait and see.

U2 Free album on iTunes
The final surprise was that after playing one of their new songs from the new album, Apple has given the entire album away to anyone with an iTunes account. Although I saw this in the store this yesterday morning I was having trouble getting the tracks to download to my iTunes library. I eventually managed to do this.

I quite like a lot of the music that U2 produces so look forward to listening to the album.

So in 2 hours Apple did announce quite a lot and apart from the U2 album we’ll have to wait for most of this to be released (anything from a week to many months).

New Computer – Part3

Software, drivers and data

I am fortunate that most of the software that I use is cross-platform so getting MS Office and Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom installed was really easy.

adobe

Adobe Lightroom had to be told where its RAW files were which I kind of expected and then following a few must have preference changes now works OK. All of my plugins (MAC versions now) were installed without issue.

After copying across my iTunes library and repointing the software to the local iTunes folder everything was fine. Once this was authorised (which I had to twice for some reason) the Apple TV downstairs carried on working without issue.

gallery_organize_events

I had a backup of iPhoto from the last time that I used it, this needed updating to the latest version and then I imported all of the missing JPG files. Apart from a few issues with some of the video files this worked very well and I even updated the Faces data too. I’m intrigued how this will alter when Apple launces their new photo app for the Mac next year – I suspect that it will have very strong ties to the cloud solution.

I even had a few apps purchased some time ago waiting on the Mac App store that I re-installed, this is a brilliant feature and when purchasing software is where I always start.

So what’s missing and did anything not go so well?

Apart from the external monitor issue there have been very few problems.

The multi-function Canon printer/scanner that I have was more difficult to install than I remember from previous experiences – this is partly due to the fact that Canon just presents the latest files on their network with no detail on which ones you need and what the best order to install them is. I know I could have used the installation disc that came with the printer but the drivers on there will be quite old now.

I also had a problem with my bookmarks too, they disappeared, reappeared and then more than 50% of them lost their favicons. I tracked this down to the fact that on the PC I had linked Google Chrome to the Bookmarks feature – disabling then removing the plugin seems to have fixed this.

I also haven’t fully decided on what to do regarding a finance application yet, I could use Money dance that I was using on the PC but this means installing Java which I would rather not use.

Although this is a fast Mac there are a few games that I will not be able to use as they are not cross platform, however the PC is not leaving the house so I will be able to use this for the odd game when needed.

Fortunately for me, Diablo III is cross platform so is already installed on the Mac ready to play; I will also install Steam and see what is available on the Mac platform too.

New Computer – Part2

Backup Strategy
In addition to the iMac I also purchased two LaCie Drives to help with my Backup strategy:

  • LaCie 4TB P`9233 Desktop Drive – USB3
  • LaCie 8TB 2big Thunderbolt RAID Hard Drive

The 4TB drive is dedicated to “Time Machine” on the iMac and will back up all of the data on the iMac automatically as well as providing recovery of any files I accidentally delete or overwrite. The other drive came configured as a RAID 0 striped drive which will be very fast but at the possible expense of ALL of the data if EITHER drive fails – some call this scary-RAID.

2bigTB_left_TBlogo

I changed this to a RAID 1 Mirror set using the built in tools of the MAC OSX system. This halves the capacity to 4TB and will not be as fast either but will protect the data if one of the drives fails. This dive is dedicated to storing my RAW files and Video files that I have accumulated over the years. The Jpg files are stored in iPhoto on the iMac and the music and films are stored in iTunes also on the iMac (and hence are backed up to via Time Machine).

I also have a 2TB USB3 portable Western Digital drive that I will install carbon copy onto to provide a remote backup option and I will also ensure that a copy of my RAW files are also on the drive. This drive will be usually be located off-site. I intend to add another one of these drives configured in the same manner and then alternate them between home and work as the need arises.

iCloud Drive Icon

Once Apple sort out the iCloud Drive I will store anything here that makes sense (i.e. documents, some photos, etc.). I also have access to 1TB+ of OneDrive space and a reasonable amount of Drop Box space too.

OneDrive_rgb_Blue2728

On the subject of cloud storage, I also have over 1 TB of OneDrive storage thanks to my Office subscription, some Dropbox storage, some flickr storage and some Adobe storage too.

I haven’t really decide on how to make best use of the cloud storage options open to me, I really want to see what Apple offer first, having a Mac will probably mean that Apple’s storage options will be best for me – we’ll just have to wait and see. We might find out more about this tonight (6PM UK time) during Apple’s presentation which will almost certainly talk about the new iPhone and iOS8 but could also go through other Apple offerings too (Yosemite? iCloud Drive?).

My Passport Wireless Drive

wdfMP_Wireless
Western Digital have added a new range of Wireless Hard Drives to their Passport range, what’s more unusual is that they have added an SD card reader to the drive too. This enables the use of the drive in the field as a mobile backup for any SD-card inserted, the drive can also wipe the card once the data has been transferred. I’m not sure I would do this as I would rather have lots of cards and then use the drive as a backup for those files instead. Naturally the drive can also be used like any mobile USB3.0 drive too.

The features of the drive are as follows:

  • You’re more attached with no attachments: Free of wires and the Internet, you can connect with up to 8 devices at the same time.
  • Built-in SD card slot: Instantly transfer or back up photos and videos from your SD card in the field so that you can keep on shooting.
  • Rechargeable battery to keep you going: Stay mobile with the long-lasting, built-in, rechargeable battery. Get up to 6 hours of continuous video streaming and up to 20 hours of standby time.
  • Wirelessly connect with your mobile devices: Interact with your media files using your tablet and smartphone with WD’s My CloudTM mobile app. Save and access your files securely from anywhere on any iOS or Android device.
  • Stream media to connect devices: Stream up to 4 HD videos at once to multiple devices. Plus, stream your media to connected TV’s, media players, gaming consoles and other DLNA/UPnP devices.
  • Internet sharing: Use My Passport Wireless as a Wi-Fi hub to share an Internet connection with multiple devices.
  • Keep your private stuff private: Feel secure from unauthorized access with Wi-Fi password protection for every file you save. Plus, protect your drive from USB access using Drive Lock in the device dashboard.
  • You’re in control: Configure, manage and diagnose your drive using the intuitive dashboard. Run drive diagnostics, erase and format your drive, register your drive and more.
  • Ultra-fast USB 3.0: Quickly transfer large amounts of data to the drive using the ultra-fast USB 3.0 port.
  • wdfMP_Wireless-2

    More detail about the drive can be found on Western Digital’s site here.

    The drive will be available in 3 sizes from the 5th September, the UK prices are as follows:

    • 500GB : £113 (23p/GB)
    • 1TB : £138 (14p/GB)
    • 2TB : £180 (9p/GB)

    As you can see, the 2TB represents the best value for money.

    wdfMP_Wireless-3

    You can pre-order your drive now, the UK store can be found here. I think that this would be valuable addition to any mobile photographer’s kit. This is something that I would love to have whilst on a holiday as I won’t need to carry a laptop. I can still copy the off JPEG image to my iPad for any blogging whilst all of the RAW and JPEG files will be backed up onto a drive that will be stored in a safe. You also want to make sure that during travel back the SD cards and the dive are stowed separately.

    I should finish in saying that I’m not really interested in a wireless drive with battery backup as there wouldn’t be much point, however adding the SD card reader is a stroke of genius and I can see WD selling loads of these.

    New Computer – Part1

    Hardware
    At the end of last week I took delivery of my new computer. I haven’t upgraded the self-built PC for some time and I was looking at my next computer. I also had the excuse that other members of the family could do with new computers too, the computers ripple down through the family.

    I initially looked at getting a laptop device and even considered the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 as this was about to be released but sanity prevailed and for what I do a desktop computer made most sense.

    With that decided I also wanted to migrate to the Apple Mac too so there were 3 basic choices open to me as follows:

    • Mac Mini
    • iMac
    • Mac Pro

    The decision was really simple here, the Mac Mini is in dire need of an upgrade by Apple and is essentially a 13” MacBook without the screen in a desktop form. The Mac Pro is really overkill for my needs and the cost is prohibitive too so I was left with the iMac. The fact that I am keeping hold of the Dell 24″ Monitor did not factor into the decision.

    Apple offers a number of set configurations of the iMac but the choice here was simple too, I need to ensure two things:

    1. The specifications had to match or better exceed the specification of the PC that I was replacing.
    2. The specification had to be suitable high enough to last for 3 years (the upgrade options of the iMac are limited to memory-only upgrades).

    iMac-27

    I chose the top 27″ iMac model and made the following upgrades:

    Base Spec:

    • 27″ 2560×1440 display
    • 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo boost to 3.8GHz)
    • 8GB (two 4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 memory
    • 1 TB Hard Drive (7,200 rpm)
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory
    • SDXC slot
    • Four USB3 ports
    • Two Thunderbolt ports
    • 10/100/1000 BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet port
    • Headphone port
    • Kensington Lock port
    • Apple Wireless keyboard
    • Apple Magic Mouse
    • WiFi 802.11 ac
    • Bluetooth 4.0

    Upgrades:

    • CPU: i7 to 3.5GHz i7 Quad CPU (Turbo speed of 3.9GHz)
    • Hard Disk: 3TB “Fusion” drive this is a system level controlled SSD and Hard Disk combo
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
    • Input devices: Added an Apple Touchpad

    So why didn’t I upgrade the memory? Simple answer is cost. Although I am fortunate enough to pay less than the full retail price thanks to the fact that the company I work for has an EPP store, the upgrade from 8GB to 16GB is £150 (replacing the two 4GB SODIMMs with 2 6GB SODIMMs) and 32GB is £451.20

    I can get two 8GB SODIMMs from Crucial UK for only £120 which if added to the existing 8GB will give me 24GB which is plenty. At a later date I can replace the two 4GB SODIMMs with 8GB versions and go to the full 32GB if needed.

    However, I always like to make sure that there are no issues before I embark on upgrading the on-board memory so I will do this next month.

    From one of my previous Apple experiences I purchased an Apple Super-drive (combo DVD/CD reader/writer drive) which isn’t something I will need often but can be plugged into the iMac as needed.

    I have had problems getting a reliable connection between the iMac and the Dell Monitor, I started with a mini-Display Port (iMac end) to Display port (Dell end) cable, I’m not sure when I got the cable but although it works the connection isn’t reliable and it is somehow “locking up” the monitor to the point that none of its touch-sensitive controls work and I have to disconnect the display-port cable and the power to the monitor. I was certain that the monitor had developed a fault but re-connecting it back to the PC proved that it was OK – the difference is the cable. The full-sized display port end also didn’t plug into the port on the Dell monitor very reliably either.

    I didn’t want to spend £25 on an Apple mini-display-port to DVI adapter and a quick look an Amazon yielded a full mini-display port to DVI cable for only £6.99 with next-day free postage via Prime.
    41eLZedkalL
    This cable although being cheap and with questionable build quality (what do you expect for £6.99?) is now connected to the second DVI connector on the Dell monitor and the second thunderbolt port on my iMac and works fine; this cable is a bargain.

    Photokina, Apple and Rumours

    I haven’t been blogging much over the last couple of weeks for a number of reasons; however I do have a few new posts pending. This post is about a number of things that are all happening in the next few weeks.

    Apple
    On September 9th Apple are having their yearly iPhone/iOS release announcement and unusually they have moved this to a larger venue than previous announcements: the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College in Cupertino. This is the same location where Steve Jobs introduced the original Mac 30 years ago.

    Nothing is known for sure but the rumours sites are very accurate a few days before the official announcement .

    iPhone5s_3Color_iOS7_PRINT

    What will be released? The iPhone 6 and iOS8 announcements with dates, prices and specifications are almost a certainty. After this it gets a bit murky.

    We have been hearing about larger iPhones a lot and the sites tend to agree that we’ll be getting a slightly larger iPhone as well as a new much larger iPhone too – the larger model will be around the same size as some of the new flagship Android models. The top capacity will rise to 128GB (not sure if this will be on both models or just the larger one).

    There’s also talk of the “iWatch” too and there are a lot of rumours about this.

    Finally, we have the larger 12” iPad and new iPad announcements to come but these are usually part of a separate announcement sometime in October.

    I like to watch the Apple announcements without knowing for sure what will be announced so I have to stop viewing the various rumour sites and steer clear of the forums too. If there is no live video stream I also have to steer clear of the official sites after the announcement. At this point I keep an eye out for the apple video stream on their “Events” site here.

    Photokina 2014
    02_header_photokina_EN

    Every two years (including this year) there is a very large Photographic show in Germany called “Photokina”, this year it runs from 16th to 21st September and will be based in Cologne. You can visit the official home page by clicking here.

    All of the photographic based companies and manufacturers will be there and a number of announcements and releases are expected to be unveiled. Typically these are announced before the show starts so that everyone can go and see the new stuff.

    d9418a2455f17a8ed2c82956e4b06b31
    So far Sony have announced some f their new items (the Sony A5100 is one of these), Fuji have announced their X30 and a few other small announcements have been made.

    Fuji X-30B-Front2.
    Fuji are also expected to announce their X100s replacement and the specification for this seems to vary daily, the latest suggested specifications sound quite limited to me (so are probably true).

    There has been no announcement from the big boys (Canon and Nikon) so far although the usual suggestions of the EOS 7D and EF100-400 replacements have resurfaced for Canon and the true D700 replacement (D710 or D750?) has also been rumoured too. Canon and/or Nikon may surprise us all but we’ll have to wait and see.

    02_gallery_GH4_FS14140_140128
    From the Micro-Four-Thirds manufacturers we are expecting nothing really ground-breaking, there is expected to be a major firmware update for the Olympus OMD EM-1 and the Panasonic GH4. We are also expecting a few already announced lenses to be available. The Panasonic 150mm f2.8 OIS lens sounds interesting but the price will be key if this lens is to sell in reasonable numbers. I would much prefer a 300mm or 400mm lens as this would finally give MFT owners a real telephoto lens (these give the same 35mm FOV of a 600 and an 800mm lens).

    1544433
    Panasonic are also expected to announce an update to the very popular (and tiny) GM1, the GM5 (what happened to the GM2, M3 and GM4?). This will have an EVF and provide some in-body-stabilisation – not sure how good this will be but will hopefully be an improvement over theGX-7 and if it works during video recording even better.

    I have also hear of a compact camera with a MFT sensor from Panasonic a bit like a smaller brother to the rather good FZ1000, this will be called the FZ100 and it is rumoured that it will have 4K video too.

    NX1-20140828-1-invitation_800px_OK_01-636x424
    Finally, Samsung are making a lot of noise about their new camera the NX1, from the rumoured specifications this sounds a very good camera. If they get the marketing right they might actually sell a reasonable number of them, they have some very good glass now I am just not sure if they really believe in this market. Samsung have a habit of spraying s lot of stuff all over the place to see what sticks – this doesn’t work in the Photographic market. Photographers want some commitment from the supplier and Samsung have so far not shown this; getting some professional photographers on board always helps too as they can be evangelists to the system.

    So there is a lot of new stuff coming at both Photokina and from Apple, but until they take place we won’t know for sure what they will be; it certainly will be an exciting two weeks.