The Philips 221S3UCB might not have a flashy name, but it’s understated sleek black design packs an array of features you usually expect from more expensive high-end monitors.

Part of the S-line, Philips took their tag-line – sense and simplicity – really seriously with this  USB monitor. It does not require power or video adapters as it connects directly to two of your USB 2.0 ports, there’s no buttons, menus and settings to configure – it just works straight out of the box.

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The Sony Xperia S is a super-slim smartphone that distinguishes itself from the crowd of Android based phones that fill up most of the catalogues of mobile network operators. Boasting a a dual-core 1.5 Ghz processor behind its elegant and svelte design, it comes packed with Sony technology:  mobile BRAVIA Engine and 12-megapixel camera with Exmor R sensor.

From my perspective as an iPhone owner, I would have never expected to find myself second-guessing my choice – until now. That’s because it’s really hard to find a fault in the Xperia S, but we’ll come back to that later.

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We just got the new Xperia S from Sony. I’ve been playing with it for the last three hours, and I’m very impressed with the device so far. The interface is sleek and responsive, the hardware is just a treat to the eyes. It’s incredibly slim for a phone with its hardware specifications, the camera takes amazing pictures even in low-light. The screen is larger than on most smartphones, but not too big as to make the device uncomfortable to hold in your hand. There’s a few quirks they need to sort out in regards to the Mac syncing application (Sony Bridge) and Android is definitely less refined than iOS, but other than that there’s not much to criticise.

A comprehensive review is in the works, and will be posted soon.

cobook screenshot

Main view - app is accessible through the menubar.

Cobook is a new Address Book application for Mac OS X that makes use of popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Voice to provide unparalleled functionality.

By using information stored in the cloud, it automatically adds and updates relevant information to your contacts.

You can set it up to sync Address Book.app and, if you’re an iCloud user, all your contacts will be available on your iOS devices. If you have lots of contacts, keeping your contacts up-to-date can be a daunting task to do manually – Cobook saves you time and effort. It’s a must have, and it’s completely free.

 

I watched the TWiT Live coverage of the Apple event last night (local time) and I think that the iPad 2 is a step in the right direction.

The original iPad was an interesting device, and was great for consuming media. Tech pundits pointed this out numerous times and pondered whether Apple was intentionally trying to stifle ‘creation’ by popularising such a device. I can see now the rationale behind the functionality of the first generation iPad. They wanted to create, for starters, a media consumption device, which they nailed. Once that was done, they could focus on adding other functionality, instead of doing both of those at the same time and failing.

It’s an incremental update, much like the updates to the iPod touch and iPhone line. What started as a phone with web browsing and music ended up being the mainstream platform for mobile computing. I’m writing this on my iPod touch and publishing it without the need of a computer, which is pretty awesome for what was 2 years ago an mp3 player. In a way posting from my iPod touch is better than posting from my computer; Safari managed to crash on me while I was writing in WordPress more than once. PlainText has an auto-save feature that automatically syncs what I’m writing to my Dropbox folder.

Once again Apple has successfully pushed computing in the right direction, towards innovation. For all it’s failures in App Store revenue policy, I still think Apple is doing technology and us a big favour.

Banshee for Mac is not ready for primetime, and unfortunately can’t replace iTunes as your primary media player because, as it stands, the beta does not have support for iPod syncing, does not import playlists correctly, doesn’t read audio CDs and crashes frequently.

Banshee for Mac Beta 1.8.0

However, there are good things to say about Banshee. It will import your iTunes library, even correct and add metadata such as BPM and cover art automatically in the background. It supports plugins such as Last.fm, eMusic and Amazon which are killer features from my point of view. Using the Last.fm plugin you can view related artists and tracks as well as listen to your personalised radio stations.

The interface is clearly something they need to overhaul. It wouldn’t hurt to use default OSX UI elements instead of the default Gnome resources. Its simplicity however is commendable. If you’re so inclined, download it and help the developers kill some bugs. If you want to have a good alternative to iTunes, one that’s free and open-source, this is what has to be done.

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