Top 3 – Apps Released This Week for the iPhone

Skype iPhone App

It’s time to break through the clutter and get down to business. This weekly post is going to list not the top 10, or the top 5, but the top 3 of anything gadget related. Why the top 3? Because anything more would be watered down.

So without further ado, here are the top 3 Apps released for the iPhone this week.

3. DIRECTV

With the free DIRECTV app you can connect to your home DVR and set it to record something now or in the future. With just a few taps you can search the program guide for movies and shows that are coming up then set any DVR in your home to record it. You can also set it to record Pay Per View content so you can watch it when you get home. Very cool stuff.

2. MLB.com At Bat 2009

MLB.com At Bat Lite is great. With it you can get pitch by pitch coverage of live games and keep up on box scores. You can get play-by-play and video highlights shortly after a play is complete. Upgrade to MLB.com At Bat 2009 and you will get all that plus live Gameday Audio broadcasts for every regular season and postseason game. You can even choose between listening to the home team’s broadcast or the away team’s broadcast. $9.99 is a small price to pay for a season’s worth of MLB audio at your fingertips.

1. Skype

Skype has finally landed on the iPhone. This app gives you the ability to call any of your Skype contacts for free. Anytime you’re connected via WiFi you have the ability to bring up Skype, search and call your contacts, and most importantly, save your precious minutes. If you’re not connected to WiFi, you can still bring up your contact list and instant message anyone else who is online. So make sure you download the free Skype app for your iPhone; because there is nothing better than calling your friends and family for free.

HD Resolution Explained

CNET’s Fully Equipped blog has a great article comparing 720p and 1080p HD displays. The article gives a detailed overview of the difference between the 2 resolutions and even covers 1080i as well. It also covers what type of content is available in what definition. The bottom line is summed up here:

HDTV Logo

In our tests, we put 720p (or 768p) sets next to 1080p sets, then feed them both the same source material, whether it’s 1080i or 1080p, from the highest-quality Blu-ray player. We typically watch both sets for a while, with eyes darting back and forth between the two, looking for differences in the most-detailed sections, such as hair, textures of fabric, and grassy plains. Bottom line: It’s almost always very difficult to see any difference–especially from farther than 8 feet away on a 50-inch TV.

It goes on to say that unless you’re going to use a projector or a very large display, the difference between 720p and 1080p is hardly, if at all, noticeable. Most of the public probably doesn’t need a TV larger than 50” because most living rooms aren’t large enough for anything bigger. Can a larger TV fit in a smaller living room? Sure. But unless you sit further away, the quality of your TV watching experience is going to be reduced by the sheer fact that you are sitting too close to the display.

I appreciate Fully Equipped for keeping us up-to-date on these things. Saving a few hundred dollars when purchasing a new television is no small thing in this economy. And it’s reassuring to know that you won’t lose out on picture quality by going with 720p. Hell, you may save enough to get a second 720p set for your bedroom too!

New Gaming Themes for Your iGoogle Homepage

iGoogle Gaming Theme Mario Bros

I love the new gaming themes for the iGoogle homepage. But first, for those of you who don’t know what iGoogle is, here’s a brief explanation.

iGoogle is a highly customizable and personalized homepage. It’s a RSS reader as well as a home for Google Gadgets. My iGoogle has several different tabs for things like gadgets, games, sports, and shopping. I’ve got RSS feeds from all sorts of gadget sites mixed in with games that can be played right from my homepage. I can also access my email and check out the latest news in one place. You can have everything you want on your very own personalized home page. Anything from The New York Times to Sudoku and from Amazon.com to a RSS feed from gadgetteaser.com.

One of the things I like best about iGoogle is the themes. You get everything listed above added into a colorful, distinctive, and unique layout. Google has all kinds of themes that will make your homepage look and feel the way you want it. They have themes that change with the weather; characters on your homepage pull out umbrellas when it starts raining in your zip code. They have themes created by artists and musicians like Radiohead, Bob Dillon, and even Jackie Chan. And, you can even create your own themes and submit them to Google.

So what was the point of all this? Oh yeah, they just added gaming themes and they are awesome. I love pulling up Firefox and seeing Mario throwing fireballs across my homepage. I switch tabs to see Mega Man in all his glory. iGoogle didn’t stop there though. They have gaming themes from The Sims 3, Guitar Hero, Spore, Call of Duty: World at War, Street Fighter IV, and of course, World of Warcraft. And there are many more. They even have a theme from Galaga. How cool.

So if you already have an iGoogle homepage, check out the new themes. They are great. If you don’t have an iGoogle homepage, what are you waiting for?

Tap Dat App – BargainBin

BargainBin App

Have you ever purchased an app then found out the next day it went on sale? Or worse yet, the next day it’s free? It happens all the time. Apps constantly go on sale for half off or free. As a user of the App Store, it is frustrating when you just decided to make the purchase only to find out you could have waited a few hours or days to get it heavily discounted.

Well in comes a new free app called BargainBin. According to the apptism, BargainBin’s main features are:

•Sale prices updated as they happen
•Price tags that indicate when apps are: Free or Bargains (50% off or greater)
•Filters that allow you to see Free Apps only, Bargain Apps only, or All apps on sale
•Browsing by a specific category or all Bargains
•Browse only popular apps that have gone on sale
•Viewing screenshots of the application quickly, without having to go to the app store
•Viewing application descriptions quickly, without having to go to the app store

Now that’s what I’m talking about. I have had this app installed for about a week and I love it. I check it everyday. Why not? With just the tap of my finger, I can quickly find everything that is on sale or reduced to free. What a concept!

So head on over to the App Store and make sure you install BargainBin. Cause only fools pay full price for apps.

Bouncing Around the Web

In case you missed it, here’s what’s Bouncing Around the Web:

Western Digital’s My Book family just jumped up to 2TB of storage. 2 freaking terabytes! You can carry around a USB 2.0 2TB external drive for around $330. 2 freaking terabytes! Is it me or can you recall when you didn’t know what the hell a terabyte was?
Via cnet

Wolf3D

I can guarantee I didn’t know what a terabyte was the last time I conquered this game. One of my absolute favorite games growing up is now available on my phone. id Software just released a ported version of Wolfenstein 3D for the iPhone. My productivity just went out the window.
Via urbergizmo

A company is now producing Boxed Water. Water in a box? Really? I can see where they are going with this. Boxed Water is safer for the environment than plastic bottles. I get it. But Boxed Water? Really? I’ll stick to the tap.
Via GIZMODO

TiVo and Blockbuster are joining forces. The market of people willing to pay several hundred dollars for a DVR and also pay $15 a month to rent movies will be thrilled. I guess I’m not one of them.
Via engadgetHD

Sweet Site of the Week – yelp.com

Sometimes it’s hard to sift through the millions of websites out there to find the fun, unusual, creative, and especially, the useful ones. And word of mouth can only take you so far. Well, leave it to Gadget Teaser to give you a hand in your search. Once a week, we’ll highlight one of our favorite sites that not everyone knows about. I like to think that we here at Gadget Teaser are performing a public service for you… the avid gadget blog reader the general public.

Yelp

This week’s Sweet Site of the Week is: yelp.com

The real goal of the Sweet Site of the Week is to highlight sites others may not know about, or at least don’t know how useful they are. To my amazement, yelp actually fits in both categories. I’m sure there are several thousand people out there thinking, “How does someone not know about yelp?” I know, and I agree. It shocks me how often I bring up yelp to someone and they have no idea what I’m talking about. But more shocking are the people that know about it, and don’t use it to its potential.

Yelp is a simple site. It’s a free online warehouse of reviews on anything. From restaurants to real estate and from health and medical to nightlife, yelp has a review for it. The best part is, it is all user reviews. Not some nose-in-the-air critic or posh “expert.” It has reviews from you and me and everyone in between. And I use it all the time.

Traveling and looking for a good restaurant? Check out yelp. I have eaten at many great food establishments that I would have never found without yelp. For example, if you’re ever near Sacramento, check out Manderes. Or if you’re ever near Redding, CA, check out The Downtown Eatery and Libations. With 100% surety I can tell you that I would have never found either of these with yelp. And these restaurants are amazing.

Going to Vegas and looking for a great show? Yelp suggests Jersey Boys as the top show in town. In New York for the weekend? The Benjamin is the hotel with the best service. In Phoenix for the week. Check out The Wrigley Mansion Club for the best nightlife. The list goes on.

The best part about yelp is using it where you live. Find out what others think about all the different places in town. Or, better yet, create an account of your own and help everyone else out with your opinions.

And for the iPhone users out there, don’t forget to add the free yelp app. So much information with the tap of your finger.

So when it comes to usefulness, yelp tops my list. And that’s why it’s this week’s Sweet Site of the Week.

IE8 – What Goes Up Must Come Down

Don’t know if you noticed, but Internet Explorer 8 was released last Thursday. What’s that? You didn’t notice. We neither did most of the online world. Microsoft can’t get much right lately and according to InformationWeek, IE8 is no exception.

IE8

As of 8:00 am Monday, IE8 — released Thursday — held 1.86% of the browser market, down from a high of 2.59% on Sunday, according to market watcher Net Applications. The most likely reason for the decline is that early adopters of IE8 are switching back to the more familiar and –at this point — reliable Explorer 7 browser.

Ouch. That is not good. Now combine this bad news with the rumors that IE8 may be Microsoft’s last attempt at a web browser… and then add the fact that Windows 7 is going to have an option to remove IE from the operating system… then well, you have yourself a web browser on life support.

It’s sad really, though not entirely unexpected. IE, like most of Microsoft’s products, became so large, and so dominant, that innovation and creativity were no longer anywhere to be found. New players emerged from the ashes (Firefox from Netscape) that took enough of the market share to make others think they could do it too (Chrome, Opera, et al). And they did. These new browsers started with clean thinking and a cleaner footprint. Everything IE is… slow, large, un-customizable, resource hog… the new browsers are not.

To be honest, I hoped IE8 would be a game changer. I hoped Microsoft would push the other browsers to be even better. I hoped IE8 would be a sign that Microsoft was moving in a new direction. Sometimes we don’t get what we hope for.

So I guess the jury is still out on Microsoft. Maybe Windows 7 will help them recover from the Vista hangover. But if the trends from the article hold true, IE8 is going to need a defibrillation from Microsoft or else we, the general public, are going to pull the plug on IE8 for them.

iPhone OS 3.0 – Does it Measure Up?

iPhone3.0

We’ve had a week to sit back and digest all that was announced for the new iPhone OS 3.0 that will be released this summer. And there is a lot to like. We are getting several features that have been clearly missing in the past. For instance:

  • Cut, copy, and paste
  • Multimedia Messaging
  • Universal Search
  • Landscape mode in all apps
  • A2DP stereo Bluetooth
  • Turn-by-turn directions

How has the iPhone done so well for so long without all of these? Most, if not all, legitimate smart phones have had this functionality for a long time. Therefore adding these features doesn’t do much to excite me. We should have had them all along. Luckily there were several unexpected announcements with the new OS 3.0. At a high level, here are several of them:

  • In app purchases
  • Peer-to-peer connectivity
  • Tethered accessories
  • Embedded maps
  • Push notifications
  • Voice-memos
  • Additional calendar support
  • 3G tethering

Well, those are some welcome additions. Again though, several of these items have been available on the better smart phones for a while. So while Apple is playing catch up in several categories, at least it’s running at full speed to do it.

This is where I have to give Apple some credit. It seems that the iPhone OS 3.0 has done a lot of catching up and answered many of the skeptics questions as to whether or not the iPhone could compete against the top smart phones on the market. I know it’s kinda crazy to question the iPhone’s overall competitiveness but in all reality, it has suffered from a slower adoption into the business world. For example, many companies and professionals would probably love to switch to the iPhone but couldn’t fathom not having cut, copy, and paste in their smart phone. Nor have a phone without a landscape mode to read and respond to emails. And how useful to a business person is a phone that cannot do a basic search?

So the question remains… Does the iPhone OS 3.0 measure up? I say it does. With the addition of several unexpected features to go along with the ones that have been missing for quite a while, I believe that Apple has finally turned a corner and has created a smart phone for everyone.

Browser Wars… con’t

Gadget Teaser’s take on the browser wars started here. As you know, we here at Gadget Teaser are loyal fans of Firefox, but it doesn’t take much for us to make a switch. Especially when news like this comes in from Pwn2Own:

Browser Wars

A recent contest at CanSecWest, an event that brings together some of the most skilled experts in the security community, has demonstrated that the three most popular browser are susceptible to security bugs despite the vigilance and engineering prowess of their creators. Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer were all exploited during the Pwn2Own competition that took place at the conference. Google’s Chrome browser, however, was the only one left standing—a victory that security researchers attribute to its innovative sandbox feature.

Well isn’t that interesting. I never expected Google’s Chrome would be the last man standing. In fact, I expected all to go down but perhaps not that fast. This coverage solidified a few things for me.

Number 1: stay away from Safari. One of the hackers went after Safari and Mac OS X first because “he believes that it is the easiest to exploit.” Not a good sign for Apple.

Number 2: no browser is totally safe. When they allow the use of plugins on the second day of competition, I’m sure Chrome will go down as well.

And therefore Number 3: no matter which browser you do use, you need to take care and consideration of where you browse and the content you keep. Keep your cache clean and clear out your cookies and saved passwords from time to time. It’s your data the hackers are after, use a little more care and you should be safe.

So after all that being said, will I be switching to Chrome? I’m not sure yet. But I am giving it another look.

Top 3 – Wii games

It’s time to break through the clutter and get down to business. This weekly post is going to list not the top 10, or the top 5, but the top 3 of anything gadget related. Why the top 3? Because anything more would be watered down.

So without further ado, here are the top 3 Wii games.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Combining some of the best graphics on the Wii with an amazing story and game play, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess makes the top 3 on this list. What’s most amazing about this game is that it was actually created for the GameCube and then ported over for the Wii. With how smooth the look and feel of the game are, you would never know it. The controls combine just enough physical motion with classic controller action to make it enjoyable. As far as the story and difficulty, there is not much to complain about. You have a whole world to explore that’s hard enough to want to consult an online guide, but not so hard that you have to. Pick up Twilight Princess and you won’t be disappointed you did.

2. Super Mario Galaxy

What many Wii owners and reviewers consider the best game for the Wii, made number two on this list. Super Mario Galaxy has the best 3-dimensional game play ever. The transitions from right-side-up to up-side-down and everything in between are flawless. Gravity makes perfect sense in this game even when you have to defy it over and over again. That combined with dozens of worlds to explore and re-explore makes this one of the best ever in the Nintendo family. One of my favorite things about Galaxy is that each level is a manageable size. You don’t have to sit down for hours to advance the game. But with how good Super Mario Galaxy is, you probably will end up playing for hours on end.

1. Mario Kart Wii

Surprised to see Mario Kart Wii at number one? Don’t be. While Super Mario Galaxy might be the best single game on the Wii, Mario Kart Wii doesn’t have a finish line. Long after I beat Galaxy, I’m still playing Kart. Why, you ask? Because when you take one of the greatest game franchises ever, add in bikes and another sixteen amazing courses, then top it off with nearly perfect online play, you get a huge hit. Kart doesn’t get old because of the Nintendo WFC. Racing against real people and friends from all over the nation and the world makes Kart new and different every time. And one thing that Kart does better than any title I know is that it levels out the playing field enough with the combo boxes to keep the most skilled players interested while giving the novice a fighting chance. So for hours upon hours of new and exciting play, Mario Kart Wii is the number one game on the Wii.