Mobalieess

02Nov07

Zune vs. iPod Language Handling Differences

iPod touch and Microsoft Zune

An odd confluence of events took place over the past few days. First, my Mac mini died suddenly and without warning last week (which left me Mac media-less since I don’t keep media on my Macbook). My iPod touch arrived on Monday. Then, Microsoft announced the new Zunes yesterday. My 1st generation Zune doesn’t have the 2.0 update yet. But, it got me thinking about the Zune again. So, I decided to put music from the same CD on both devices to see if my non-golden ears could hear any difference. I used a CD that my daughter and I have been listening to lately… Utada Hikaru’s Single Collection, Vol I (an import).

However, before I could get to the audio comparison I ran into some interesting differences in the way the Zune desktop software and iTunes dealt with the disc’s contents. Apple’s iTunes brought in the CD exactly as shown on the jacket. Title parts that were in English (roman letters) remained in English. Title characters in Katakana (phonetic Japanese characters) stayed that way. The Zune software, on the other hand, decided to, um, transliterate from Katakana characters to roman alphabet. The Zune software couldn’t figure out one of the titles at all though. So, it is listed as “[Untranslated]”.
The other difference that amused me was how the Zune software and iTunes decided to deal with the artist’s name. iTunes left it Japanese characters and sorted it out of range (after “Z”). The Zune decided to transliterate it to “Hikaru Utada”. And, this confused me when I tried to search alphabetically by artist. You see it reversed the expected Surname/Given-Name order (Utada Hikaru) to the western Given-Name/Surname order (Hikaru Utada). So, I was doubly confused. It was not listed in the “U” section or out of range (after Z).

It will be interesting to see what the Zune 2.0 firmware update and, presumably, new Zune desktop software does when it becomes available.

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iPod touch and T-Mobile Dash – Tactile Impressions

iPod touch and T-Mobile Dash

My 16GB iPod touch arrived yesterday. Since I’m probably among the last of the mobile enthusiasts who got a touch (even though I pre-ordered it the day it was announced), I’m not even going try to write a mini-review. However, as a Windows Mobile enthusiast, I thought other Windows Mobile users might find a couple of quick observations from that point of view interesting.

The T-Mobile Dash (Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition, formerly Smartphone) has been my main device for the past half-year or so. As you can see from the photo the iPod touch and the Dash are pretty close in height and width dimensions although the touch is much thinner than the Dash (0.31 vs. 0.5 inches). According the to iPod touch spec page and the T-Mobile Dash spec page, both are 4.2 ounces. Frankly, I’m having a hard time believing this. The touch feels much much heavier than the Dash. But, I don’t have a scale to check this, so I’ll believe the specs. You can see that the screen is about twice the physical size of the Dash’s screen and is exactly twice the resolution (480×320 vs. 320×240).

The one thing that became obvious real fast is that thumb typing as I know it is impossible for me on the touch. The lack of tactile feedback and what appears to be a slight digitizing offset (selection appears slightly to the left of where I touch the screen) is deadly. My typing mode (especially for passwords) is reduced from two thumbs to my right hand index finger. I’m really tempted to use a stylus when I need to type on the touch. The Dash’s keyboard, on the other hand, is the best thumb keyboard I’ve used on a Smartphone (the Universal’s and TyTn’s keyboard are my favorites on the Pocket PC side of the Windows Mobile house).

One somewhat surprising aspect of the touch’s lack of tactile feedback is that I don’t think I can use it without looking at the screen. I’ve also used the iPod nano and the 5th generation iPod (video). Both of those are very easy to use without looking at the device because the click wheel gives lots of location and tactile information.

IMHO Apple was wise in NOT positioning the iPod touch as a PDA. It is clearly not a PDA. On the other hand, its Safari browser is clearly superior to Windows Mobile’s Internet Explorer (and Opera mini on Windows Mobile — for me anyway). That combined with a relatively easy (but not great) YouTube app makes the iPod touch the current overall multimedia champ. I just looked at the new Zune announcements. I think the Zune still has a lot of catching up to do. But, more on that after the firmware upgrade for the current generation Zune’s become available next month. I’ll flash my Zune then and give it a spin.

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Thumbing Around an iPod touch Screen Keyboard

My iPod touch is still wandering around in FedEx-land. But, I was able to use my daughter’s iPod touch for a few minutes to help her set up WiFi access. I found it nearly impossible to type on the screen keyboard in portrait mode. The lack of tactile feedback from a physical keyboard is a real drawback. However, using the screen keyboard in landscape mode was a bit better though I still pressed the wrong key way too many times. I think the 2.0 versions of the iPhone and touch really needs a slideout keyboard even though it would increase the thickness of each device. I’ll get a better feel for this after I have some time to play with my own device (which should arrive soon).

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iPod touch Support Area Went Live

Apple’s…

iPod touch Support

…website went live. And, according to Engadget, units are showing up in Apple stores. My unit still hasn’t shipped. So, I guess I won’t be playing with one as soon as those you who are buying off the shelf. In the meantime, however, the 85 page iPod touch manual is available on Apple’s website as a PDF download.

The good news is that the support pages are up. The other good news is that the touch is so close to the iPhone that Apple is essentially repurposing its web pages for the touch. The bad news is that Apple didn’t bother to take out iPhone related references to things like the EDGE network or even the word iPhone out of the documentation pages.

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Revisiting the Apple Newton While Waiting for the iPod touch

Apple Newton Messagepad 130

The Apple iPod touch is weeks away from delivery (early October at best). So, while waiting for it I decided to revisit the original Apple PDA. This is the Apple Newton MessagePad 130. I said in the video that is it 12 or 13 years old. However, according to Wikipedia, this model was released in March 1996. So, I probably bought it around then which makes it a bit over 11 years old. Although its rechargeable battery and backlight died long ago, the unit itself still works after all these years. So, click on the image above or this link here to view the short video to see the Newton in action. I’ll probably bring it back to show the Newton and iPod touch side-by-side in October.

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One Response to “Mobalieess”

  1. Do not quite understand what is at stake.


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