iPhone mania leads to early gadget Christmas

Christmas shopping has certainly evolved over the years. With gadgets now dominating our lives, they also dominate our Christmas shopping, even for younger kids as the age minimum for smart phones in many families keeps getting lower. Sure, boys still love footballs and girls love their dolls, and parent will buy all sorts of things large and small. Clothes and stocking stuffers and trivial gifts like cards puzzle frames are still common, but gadgets have certainly become the most important item on many gift lists.

The gift guides will be coming out soon, and you can expect the iPhone 5 to dominate many of these lists, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. The only thing holding it back is that so many people have already purchased one, as the introduction of the iPhone in many ways was an early Christmas for those involved in the logistics of delivering the new phone. The iPhone hysteria is certainly good for companies like UPS and serves as a warmup for the crazy Christmas season.

Despite the maps fiasco, the new iPhone 5 is obviously a hit. But it’s certainly not for everyone with the high price tag. Parents in particular will be searching for less expensive alternatives, and many parents frankly don’t want to spoil 10-year old kids with a new iPhone. Yet the pressure remains. So scour the upcoming holiday gift guides for other ideas that will make the kids smile.

Picture This: An Instagram Camera

Tech developer ADR Studios has revealed a new concept design, that is sure to make the many Instagram users in the world gather their pitchforks and torches (or just start a cause on Kickstarter) and plead for someone to make this a mass produced reality.

Meet the Instagram camera.

That is a digital handheld camera that can print an instant photo from the model, complete with all of the features the Instagram app allows. What strikes me right away about this project is:

A. That’s a beautiful camera. Not just “hipster cool” but genuinely well designed.

B. This is an incredible marriage of times gone by charm (the polaroid this whole thing is based off of) and new technology (Instagram, obviously), that wouldn’t look out of place in a 50′s sci-fi where a vague idea of what future technology might hold, was paired with a current product to create something that’s just kind of out there.

C. Far from a novelty, this thing could actually make a practical investment considering its’ list of features.

• 16 GB mass storage.
• Wifi and Bluetooth.
• 4:3 touchscreen.
• 2 main lens, first for main capture, second for 3D filters, webcam applications and QR Code capturing.
• Optical zoom.
• LED Flash.
• Internal printer to make your Instagram photos real.
• Paper cartridge with Instagram Paper Sheets.
• Dedicated 4 colors ink tanks.
• InstaOs 1.0, which put together Facebook and Instagram App feature.

Now again, this is still a concept and as of now, no one has plans to make this thing on a retail level. Still though, with the mass popularity of the Instagram app, and the many social networking friendly features this thing has, someone with the ability to make this would be a fool not to considering it’s almost literally a license to print money.

CES kicks off

The biggest technology and gadget show, CES, just kicked off in Las Vegas, and as usual much of the talk surrounds Apple:

Apple is the only company that consistently gets big buzz out of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — without even attending.

This year will be no different.

Connected TVs — TVs that connect to and can access content from the Internet — will be a big part of CES this year. And just about everyone in tech expects Apple at some point to launch such a television — an iTV — that easily consumes and shares with other Apple devices content served from the company’s media-storing iCloud.

Microsoft made news earlier by saying this was the last year they would attend CES/ Why attend if Apple gets all the buzz anyways? Maybe Microsoft should focus on new products instead of protecting its Windows/Office cash cow? Or maybe not . . .

Gadgets for the holidays

The holiday season is here, and today is Cyber Monday so it’s time to go searching for deals. There are a ton of gadget gift guides out there, and Bullz-Eye.com has a gadget section in their 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. The WOWee One Slim Portable Speaker is one of the featured products.

You’ll be amazed when you plug this tiny gadget into your MP3 player or phone and turn on some music. Of all the gadgets we’ve tested recently, the WOWee ONE Slim Portable Speaker is one of our favorites. It’s about the size of a deck of cards and easily plugs into any device with an audio jack. All of a sudden you can have a party. The WOWee turns flat, solid surfaces like tables, counters, bumpers, hoods and truck beds into bass-filled sound systems using patented gel technology. The sound changes depending on the type of surface and you can really feel the base on some surfaces. It’s perfect for events like tailgates as it provides about 10 hours of tunes and can turn your grill/cooler/hood into a high-end sound system for the whole parking lot. It’s also great for impromptu parties as it can fit in your pocket, computer bag or glove compartment. Take it on a trip and have parties in your hotel room or by the pool. The possibilities are endless and kids will love it as well. It seems like everyone listens to music alone these days with their headphones, so the WOWee makes it easier for everyone to share and enjoy music.

There are a ton of gadget gift guides out there, so do your research and you’ll find some great stuff. You can start with the ones from USA Today and CNET.

Tips for Apple 4S battery issues

Here are some helpful tips for how to get more battery life from your new iPhone. Apple has acknowledged the problem and is working on a software fix.

Bottom line – turn off a lot of the automatic updates and notifications. I have most of mine off and haven’t had much of a battery problem.

Battery issues for new iPhone 4S

Some stories are coming out about the iPhone 4S and problems with battery life. I just got a new one and I love it, but I was a little surprised at how quickly the battery was depleted. Apple is apparently looking into it, so we’ll see if this becomes a bigger story.

Get a cover for your new iPhone 4S

The new iPhone 4S is a massive hit, so if you got one, you should be in the market for a cool case or two. Check out this review of the new XtremeMac Microshield. If you like a smooth and slick cover, this one will be perfect.

Apple’s iCloud: How magical is it?

Apple iCloud.

Apple’s really nailed down its presentation strategy. The company doesn’t leak features before they’re absolutely ready for mass consumption (not counting the old AppleTV of course), and then it announces the product, shows just how awesome it is, and puts a release date just close enough that the world will stay excited until its release. iCloud is no different. Apple’s unveiling made Google Music look like a high-school project by comparison.

I’m really impressed by what Apple put together. There are a few recent Apple policies that have really made me question whether the company is worth supporting in any capacity. But iCloud is free, and iTunes Match, maybe the single greatest part of the iCloud rollout, is just $25 a year. None of this is to say that I think Apple has pioneered anything amazing. In fact, pretty much everything about the iCloud service has been available through Google for quite some time. It is clean, pretty, and looks incredibly easy to use, which is exactly what Apple is good at. It also further ties consumers into the iOS ecosystem, making it harder to consider leaving.

For the non-Apple users of the world, there is some good news here. Google is looking at iCloud and thinking of ways to do it better (and they can’t be happy about Apple taking the notification bar pretty much directly from Android). The next version of Android will almost certainly try to best iCloud in some serious ways. Google knows that Apple is going for brand loyalty with iCloud. Whatever the company releases to compete will have to be good enough to pull people away from iOS.

The ultimate baseball app – Bill James Baseball IQ

If you’re a baseball junkie, this app will blow your mind. Bill James is the king of baseball stats, and now you can get an app for your iPad or iPhone called Baseball IQ that gives you an unbelievable about of information. Check out the video above and you’ll get a feel for all the possibilities with this app, but it just scratches the surface.

One of the best uses will be for fantasy baseball. Right now, you have access to tons of stats if you play fantasy baseball, so it’s hard to gain a real advantage over the other teams. But with this baseball app from Bill James, you get a level of information on stuff like match-ups that goes way beyond what you can find on the web.

So check it out and get that edge!

Instapaper sales show slow Verizon iPhone adoption from new customers

Verizon iPhone launch

There was such a clamor leading up to the Verizon iPhone launch that you’d think it would be the only thing the world is talking about. Instead, it’s been pretty quiet since the launch, which has everyone wondering, how good was the launch?

If you see things how Marco Arment, founder of the popular Instapaper app for multiple mobile platforms, the Verizon iPhone is selling mostly to existing iPhone customers. Arment used the sales of his own application, which are historically fairly steady, to analyze the current level of Verizon iPhone sales.

Here are the basics from his blog:

Since my ranks rarely change significantly, the resulting sales volumes seem to track the entire App Store’s volume. In other words, since my rank is held mostly constant, but my sales vary, it’s reasonable to extrapolate that trends in my sales indicate approximate trends in the entire App Store market.

The results are fairly obvious: I see huge spikes whenever there’s a new iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad released, whenever they become available in a major new country, or whenever there’s a major reason for people to buy a lot of them (like the holidays).

Arment hasn’t seen any spikes surrounding the Verizon iPhone release, though. In fact, things have been surprisingly moderate. Arment’s own theory about slow adaptation among Verizon customers seems spot on to me. He thinks most of early adapters are the hardcore smartphone nerds. These are the people that wait in lines and stay up until 3AM to pre-order. These are people who put up with AT&T just so they could have the iPhone.

The next wave of iPhone owners are the casuals – people who have seen the phone and liked it but aren’t in any real hurry to buy one. Casual users always take longer to adapt new tech and the Verizon iPhone won’t likely be an exception.