Thoughts on Devices: 2016
If you follow this blog regularly or follow me on Twitter, you know that I love devices for all purposes. Whether it's for watching videos, virtual reality, or any other number of entertainment tasks, I love cutting edge devices and have an opinion on all of them. The following are my thoughts on devices I own (some old, some new) and the services around them.
Apple TV 4
When the new Apple TV was announced, I was ecstatic. I always felt like the original Apple TV was a hidden gem and that Apple, with all of its resources, could really change the game of television. I even had heard rumors that Apple had bid for the rights of the English Premier League. A year since buying the new Apple TV, I've lost faith that Apple actually cares.
There have been very few improvements to the device or its Apple-created apps and there are few improvement promises in the pipeline. There was the announced TV app but it has little significance. Apple TV was also meant to be a gaming system but the game library has disappointed and I've read many game developers have abandoned ship.
This first Apple TV enhancement doesn't support 4k, though I've read the hardware in the Apple TV is capable of 4k support, so I'm disappointed Apple hasn't updated firmware to support 4k. Damn.
The touch remote is awesome but that's really all the new Apple TV has done. I'm incredibly disappointed with Apple's effort wth TV, especially when I feel like TV is ripe for the picking from a disrupter like Apple. At $150 I'm not hurt by the price, simply by Apple's lack of commitment.
Roku 4 & Samsung 4k TV
When we finished our basement, I only had eyes for a massive 4k television. I bought a 55" 4k Samsung TV and, considering the new Apple TV didn't support 4k, opted for the new 4k Roku. Before I say anything more, I need to say that I love Roku -- the apps are quality and the interface is easy to use. For any television isn't your main TV, I recommend a TV with Roku baked in as the default smart TV; brand name smart TV operating systems are awful (and thus Roku is good as the default) but never marry your smart system for the main family television.
I'm happy to report I still love the Roku 4 -- it's fast, reliable, and everything I knew I was getting for less than the price of the Apple TV 4. What' I'm disappointed by is the lack of 4k content available a year later. Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube were essentially the only 4k streamers when I bought the device and sadly they seem to be the only providers a year later. In a world where you think technology would move faster, it sucks that 4k is still an edge quality.
Apple iPhone 6s, MacBook Pro
After using the phone and laptop, and seeing the lack of improvements shown in the recent Apple events, I have to be honest: I think I'm getting to the end of my Apple rope. It has become clear that Apple doesn't care to be the best anymore -- the iPhone and MacBook "new features" are features that were implemented in competitor devices years ago, from GPU, camera quality, and hardware resilience. As an Apple fanboy it's been a really difficult fact to accept, but the truth is they don't care about developers anymore -- it's all about the mass. My iPhone screen just cracked and the home button doesn't work anymore, so now may be the time to give Chrome Pixel a chance.
I'll sound hyperbolic but the HTC Vive has changed my thinking on web development, gaming, and entertainment. The HTC Vive is an absolute masterpiece. My only complaint about the Vive itself is the amount of wires, which I pull out from time to time, but the Vive itself is reliable and brings a massive smile to my face. The Steam software slows down after a while but that's a vendor issue. For those saying the Oculus may be a better option: you can use ReVive to play Oculus games on the Vive, thus making Vive the real winner of the current VR devices.
Which games and experiences should you buy today? HoopsVR, Arizona Sunshine, Raw Data, Final Goalkeeper, and Rec Room. Those handful of games alone will make the price of the Vive worth it. Just don't buy your gaming PC from Origin PC...
I made the jump to installing a Nest Thermostat this autumn and love it. I love being able to control my house temperature via my phone, as well as appreciate the Nest app notices when we're away and adjusts the temperature accordingly, saving energy when we're a long distance away from home. I love being able to walk up to the thermostat and interact with it logically -- anyone who has dealt with a traditional thermostat knows why I love an UI-friendly device. Well worth the $250.
My Xbox One is still ticking after several years, despite not trusting the CD drive -- I buy all of my games via their online store. This console has served me well but Playstation 4 releasing a VR peripheral shows how far behind Microsoft is with their gaming console. They really haven't improved the Xbox One and I haven't heard of much coming down the pipeline. I'd complain about lack of quality with the Xbox One but its nearly decade-long life makes me appreciate what it has been more than what it isn't.
While I'm hating on the recent iPhone and MacBook Pro, I have to say I'm enjoying the new iPad. The iPad is still fast, reliable, and served me well on a recent trip where I needed to keep my 3 year old entertained for up to 12 hours on airplanes. I can't think of a more fit tablet, despite there being much less expensive tablet alternatives. The tablet market still seems as though it's owned by Apple, no matter the investor sentiment.
raspberry pi 3
As I'm told is the case for just about everyone, I bought a raspberry pi 3 and have done absolutely nothing with it, though I do feel pretty smug about owning one.
Looking at your older and newer devices, what are your thoughts today? I'd love to hear them!