Tuesday, December 31, 2013

LG To Release a webOS Powered TV

Many of you know that I have a soft spot for all things Palm and so I was intrigued when I saw a report on the WSJ Digits blog reporting that LG plans to build a webOS powered television set.

As you may recall, webOS was the last mobile operating system developed by Palm, Inc before it was acquired by HP in 2010 followed, quickly followed by the complete shutdown of the Palm unit and discontinuing of all webOS hardware sales.  LG acquired webOS from HP in February of 2013.

What I find interesting about this is that LG is stuffing webOS into a TV.  webOS was originally designed to power smartphones and tablets.  I'm not saying that webOS can't work on a TV, but I'm having a hard time envisioning the user interface.

The primary interface for webOS was touch.  The primary interface for TVs today is a remote control.  According to the WSJ article, the unannounced LG TV is said to retain the webOS cards based paradigm for moving between open applications.  To me, that sounds rather clunky with a remote only type of interface.  I guess it could work if LG does something similar to the original Palm Pre which had a home button that, when pressed, would move you into card view for application switching.  Palm abandoned that idea with the Pre Plus, their second webOS smartphone.


Interface features aside, webOS could have a second left as a smart TV OS.  It's biggest problem as a smartphone OS was that, honestly, it was late to market compared with Apple iOS and Google Android ecosystems and failed to capture enough developers to really build out the application suite.  In TVs, however, I have to ask myself, how important is a third-party developer ecosystem?  I can't see playing Angry Birds or Tweeting from my TV, so does it really matter if there is a large catalog of webOS smart TV apps?  I think the place where things like smart TVs, cable boxes, and media players (Blu-ray, DVD, et el) can be improved is in their software.  An "appliance" such as a TV with a slick user interface which made it easy to find the content I want to watch when I want to watch it would be a very nice usability bump.  Any such software should be able to tie together access to my HDMI attached cable box and media players and my streaming media services; Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Pandora spring to mind.

Regardless of what we might conjure up in our minds, we will know in better detail where LG is taking webOS and smart TVs very soon.  LG plans on showing their webOS TV at the CES show in Las Vegas in a few weeks.

[Via WSJ Digits blog...]

Friday, December 27, 2013

Seagate Central Home Media NAS Device Review [Updated]


I discovered Seagate Central while looking for a seamless Macintosh and Windows home backup solution.  Once I started reading more about Seagate Central, what I realized was this little network attached box has a number of nice features for the network connected home.

Backup All of Your Stuff

My home has a mix of Mac OS X and Windows desktops and laptops, and Seagate Central makes backing both types of PCs super simple.  Macs can see Seagate Central as a Time Machine server and will work with all recent releases of Mac OS X right out of the box, making Mac backups remarkably easy.  Windows users will need to install the Seagate Dashboard software before backing up files to Central’s hard disk.

Another useful feature of Seagate Central is that it can backup the pictures and videos that you post to Facebook.  This is an incredibly useful feature as many people don’t backup their smartphones using only social media services as a means for preserving the special moments in our lives that are captured in photos and short videos.  I’m thinking about my wife and her iPhone 4 as a perfect use case here.

For as useful and easy as it is to backup your Mac or PC to Seagate Central, I do need to offer a word of caution here.  The Seagate Central is a single drive device.  This means, that is the drive in your Seagate Central becomes damaged or fails there is no backup of the backup.  The old be prepared saying goes "one is none", so if you use Seagate Central as a backup server, I would strongly recommend a second supplemental backup, such as Backblaze.

Via ComputerShopper.com

Streaming Media Server

Seagate Central is also a streaming media server that works with hardware that you probably already have in your home.  To achieve this interoperability, Seagate has baked in Digital Living Network Alliance, or DLNA, services.  This means that the DLNA can talk to your devices like a Sony PS3, Blu-ray players, Samsung TVs and many more devices.  To use Seagate Central as a media server for your connected devices, just connect everything to the same wired or wireless network (802.11n or later is recommended) and grab some hot, buttery popcorn and enjoy.

What about the Apple TV?  Unfortunately, the Apple TV does not appear to be a DLNA compatible device.  (And why should it be from Apple’s perspective? They want you to purchase and stream your content from iTunes.)  Fear not, Apple TV owners!  Seagate has you covered with their Seagate Media app, which is AirPlay friendly and allows you to redirect content streamed to your iOS over to Apple TV.  The Seagate Media app also works with Android devices.

Access and Share Your Data

A unique feature of the Seagate Central server is that you can use it remotely from your Android or iOS device with the free app from Seagate.  Once the Central server is configured and you have installed the app, then you can access your photos, videos, or documents.  Your mobile device will need to be connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot or 3G cellular service.  You can also access the content stored on the Seagate Central server from your Mac or PC using a web browser and even share the content with a private email invitation.  These features are allow you get much more utility our of the Central and effectively gives you your own sharable cloud-based storage solution.

Pricing & Availability

Seagate Central is available now and comes in a 2TB ($149.99), 3TB ($179.99) and 4TB ($219.99) models to meet your media and backup needs and budget.  Just as a price comparison, the Apple Time Capsule starts at $299.00 and does not have the streaming media features.  While your individual needs will differ from mine, the 3TB $179.99 version seams to be the best choice for all but the price conscious or those with lots of content to store.

Conclusion

The Seagate Central NAS server packs a lot of value in an inexpensive package.  It makes backups simple, streams media to your DLNA-compatible devices, gives you access to your data when you are on the go, provides document sharing, and works with Mac OS X, Windows, Android and iOS devices.  The one thing that I would have liked to see was a multi-drive configuration for data redundancy since Seagate Central is billed as a backup solution.

Update


After posting a question about RAID support in Seagate Central, Seagate Support confirmed that Central does not support a multi-disk RAID configuration.  In place of the Central, Seagate recommends their Business Storage 2-Bay NAS for people who want the peace of mind of a redundant data storage device.

For more information and purchasing options, visit the Seagate website.

[Seagate Central showroom image via ComputerShopper.com...]

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings from your friends at Smartphone Fanatics!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Apple Releases OS X 10.9.1 Mavericks Update

Yesterday, Apple rolled out the first update for Mac OS X Mavericks.

The 10.9.1 update, a 243MB download, should be welcomed as an early Christmas present for anyone who uses the build in Mail application with Gmail.  It was widely reported after the initial release of Mavericks that there were issues keeping email in sync between the client and the Google servers.  This update should address the Gmail issues.  (I don't use the Apple Mail application, so I can't really comment on the issues Gmail users were reporting.)

In addition to the Mail update, Mavericks 10.9.1 also updates Safari to version 7.0.1.  The latest version of Safari fixes an issue where Safari could become unresponsive when filling out web forms and improves the credit card autofill feature's compatibility with websites.  (I have been using the credit card autofill features this Christmas season and it's been working well.)

This latest Mavericks update will install on any Macintosh that is capable of running OS X 10.9, including some models going all the way back to 2007.

A full list of changes, fixes, and enhancements can be found on the Apple website.

If you haven't already done, so, you can download and install the Mac OS X 10.9.1 update on your Macintosh by going to the App Store icon and clicking on the Updates tab.