June 28, 2007

Product RED

It's not often you see technology products from different companies banding together for a common cause. But that is exactly what has happened over the past 12 months with the advent of a global initiative to fight Aids called (PRODUCT) RED. (PRODUCT) RED is an initiative founded by Bono, U2's lead singer, and Bobby Shriver. The idea behind Product Red is simply for consumers to choose a (PRODUCT) RED branded item over a regular one. (PRODUCT) RED items cost the same as their regular counterparts, but companies that join the (PRODUCT) RED cause donate a percentage of the sale proceeds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which was established in 2002.

The first two technology companies to join the fight are Apple and Motorola. Choose the iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition or the Motorola RAZR and both Apple and Microsoft will give a portion of the purchase price to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. Both products look great and are finished in a rich red metallic case.

The (PRODUCT) RED iPod Nano comes in both 4GB ($279) and 8GB ($349) varieties. Like other Nano's it comes with a great 1.5inch colour display, up to 24 hours of battery life and simple integration with iTunes. It is simply the best portable music player on the planet.

The (PRODUCT) RED Motorazr is the first in a series Motorola plans to launch in Australia this year. At only 13.9 mm thin, 53 mm wide (the width of a credit card) and 98 mm long, the Motorola RAZR V3 is still one of the slimmest phones on the market. As a bonus, Motorola are also bundling an H500 Bluetooth headset with the (PRODUCT) RED RAZR. The package is available exclusively through Optus prepaid for $249, $19.80 of which goes direct to the Product RED cause.

June 24, 2007

Online DVD Rentals

Have you ever wished there was an easier way to rent your DVD's? A way that meant you didn't have to leave the comfort of your warm home and wait in line, only to discover the DVD you were searching for wasn't available? Well, now there is a far easier way to get your DVD's, and, as if from heaven they are delivered to your mailbox and you can keep them as long as you want.

The phenomenon of online DVD rentals started in the US with NetFlix. NetFlix pioneered a system where users kept a list of the DVD's they wanted to watch, and sent them out one or two at a time. When you sent back the DVD they sent you a new one from your list. This system has many economic and practical advantages from the traditional 'video library' format. Firstly, users don't get slugged with late fees - they only get new movies delivered when the old, watched movies are returned. Secondly, the company doesn't need hundreds of locations, everything can be managed from a central warehouse.

NetFlix isn't available in Australia but there are many other providers offering this service. Take a look at QuickFlix, WebFlicks and BigPond Movies. All provide a similar service and most offer a free trial where you see if online DVD rental suits you. Plans start at around $10 per month which gives you access to one DVD at a time and up to two DVD's per month. If you think you want more you can try the the $60 per month plan that gives you five DVD's at a time and unlimited during the month.

June 21, 2007

Safari for Windows

The browser wars just stepped up another notch thanks to the release of Safari for Windows. If you haven't heard of Safari before that's OK, neither have 95% of the computer-using public. That's because Safari is the web browser that Apple include as standard when you buy a Mac and hasn't actually been available for Windows. Now it is and I suggest you try it here.

Safari has been out for over three years on the Mac platform and was the first browser to bring innovations like tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and Snapback to consumers. Since its release it has matured in to a very stable and secure browser. In fact, according to Apple, Safari is also the fastest browser for PC. That's right, faster than Internet Explorer 6 and 7, and faster than Firefox.

The thing I've always loved about Safari is it's intuitive bookmark management features. Bookmarks are easy to organise using a single-window interface that will be familiar to you if you've used iTunes. And don't worry about importing your bookmarks from your other browser, Safari does that automatically on its first run. Other features like SnapBack and built-in RSS support help to make Safari a compelling proposition.

Some pundits have questioned Apples motives for porting Safari to Windows but I think it's for a combination of reasons. Firstly Apple are good at making software that consumers love to use, with Safari on Windows it's just another reason for people to experience the 'Mac' way before investing in Apple hardware, and, secondly Apple make a lot of money from search referrals to Google and Yahoo. Some analysts put the number in the order of $20 million, with a larger base of users running Safari this number is expected to at least double or triple.