Spotify Revisited . . . and just got rocked.

UPDATED – Just noticed that it’s a 48 hour deal . . . then, can expand to 30 days.

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Man, I love those moments when something comes along that just . . . well, blows your mind. If you read my previous post about Spotify, you know I was pretty keen on the service. Well, I’m ending month number two of LOVING the steady stream of anything-I-want-at-any-time-for-free music. And, guess what? My mind just got blown even bigger.

Spotify is now open to the public (no longer invitation only) for US users. This is the point where you pause your reading, open a new window, and go sign up . . . seriously, NOW. I’ll wait.

OK, here’s where the next 6 months get really nice . . . then, it’s decision time. From what I hear, free users of Spotify can get the offline sync mode functionality in their smartphone app. So, this means you can get the Spotify app on your phone, log in, then it is seen by Spotify on your computer. You can then sync ANYTHING to your phone for as much space as you have.

Did I mention that this is done WIRELESSLY. And, it’s about the most flawless execution I’ve seen. I literally opened the app on my phone and a “sync playlists to iPhone” popped up on my computer screen. I selected the playlists I wanted to include and it started chugging away – pretty swiftly, I might add.

So, here I am excited all over again – six months should be plenty of time to see if I want to chunk down $9.99/month for all-you-can-eat music.

This is just plain awesome.

http://www.spotify.com

Spotify Experience

OK, so I’m done lamenting over my long, lost LaLa service . . . it let me listen to all sorts of new music and decide if I like it (then, I’d go grab it to purchase and actually felt gooood about it). So, then Apple comes along and gobbles them up . . . thanks alot.

So, I heard news of our friends across the pond having this super-fantastic service called Spotify. There, they could pay a fee and get all-you-can-eat service . . . still, something about the “rental” model just didn’t seem to thrill this “old-school” music consumer (even if I have adopted MP3 downloads pretty heavily lately).

Then, yesterday, I get my invite to spotify (it was hidden in my spam filter – woohoo!). Now, you might ask, “did he just jump into the paid model of service?”. Nope. Ready for this? So far, the free version is every bit as good as LaLa’s old service . . . AND, I can play the files again! LaLa would limit to 30 seconds after the first full listen. Right now, I’m jamming out to the Marty Stuart Ghost Train Sessions with wreckless abandon (pretty good, btw, BTrain).

So, looks like happy days are here again . . . if you work at your computer all day – I can leave this humming through my speakers as I work. Now, the paid version ($9.99/month) would let me dump any and all music to my iPhone, but I’m gonna stick right here for a while . . . this is pretty dad blame sweet.

www.spotify.com

LM

4g Hoax?

Ok, so I just saw a post about 4G and the progress they’re making. In this post, their speed tests were in the 2-2.5 MBit range. So, I jump on my speedtest app to reveal almost 5MBit on my connection. Misinformation, much?

Bible App from You Version

Okay, I bought the holy Bible app from You Version about two years ago for my first iPhone. I really liked it, because of the chronological studies, the easy searchability, and the yearly plans. Well, now they’ve upped the ante with audio versions of some translations. I thought at first, well this might just be a gimmick, but it really is awesome. They have several translations with different versions of spoken word, and they all sound pretty good. I think it’s the New Living version I’m listening to that actually has music behind the vocals. Kudos to you version for an excellent app. Not to mention, it’s free! Now I really will have to dust off the Bible at home if I keep this up!

Google Chrome Angry Birds

Well, color me unproductive . . . Google has just released a free version of Angry Birds for their Chrome Browser web store . . . head to http://chrome.angrybirds.com/ to start your addiction today.

GPS Drive by Motion X

I wanted to take a quick moment to write a small review about GPS drive for the iPhone. I’ve always seen this app as I browse the iPhone app  library, but never took time to download it even though it got great reviews. Well, I went ahead and downloaded it since it was just $.99. What I found was a very well-written, very good looking at that gave really good GPS directions that are on par with other dedicated GPS systems that I’ve used.

I think the major draw for this app is the fact that it’s just $.99 for 30 days of activity. This make it very nice for special trips when you don’t want to buy a dedicated system.

What I really like about the system is the clarity of the screen and the speed of the app. Menus are very quick to respond, and I can see the screen while well away from my face. The interface itself for navigating and searching local restaurants and other places is very well laid out. Also, I like the way I can set my home as a favorite and other locations as well.

In addition, just the feature of having an ETA and mileage count down (like a real GPS) is much better than using the Google maps app (of course, until Google Nav comes along!).

All in all, I’m really pleased with this app and I’m excited about taking another trip just opened tried out. I highly recommend it especially since it’s just one dollar.

HP Envy 17 3D Review

FYI – Get a great deal on it here.

Well, I went and did it . . . a hard drive crash on my old faithful Thinkpad put me over the edge for something new. I’d been eyeballing the Envy 17 for quite some time for it’s great reviews of screen quality, processor and overall performance, so I bit the bullet.

Let’s say I’m not disappointed. This upgrade moved me from a Core 2 Duo up to a screaming Core i7 quad core chip (8 threads). Also, it’s a 64 bit version of Windows 7 with 6 GB of RAM . . . a very welcome change of pace. I won’t bore with details, but suffice it to say this is a great machine for graphics processing. I’ll go through a quick list of likes/dislikes.

What I like:

Screen – this 17+ inch screen is 1920×1080 (full HD) and is, in a word, gorgeous. It’s amazing what improvements have been made over the past few years. This LED backlit screen leaps at you. I don’t use the full brightness, so it’s more than ample. The glossy screen takes some getting used too, but doesn’t nag too much. It is a 3D screen, but I don’t use it for such – the 120 Hz screen is smooth as butter.

Speed – I’m running 64 bit CS5 suite and it runs very well. 64 Bit Photoshop is great and the 6 GB of RAM really helps out for large files. Most any application runs very well and the large amount of cache on the chip makes common instructions repeat super fast. Since this i7 allows for 8 threads at the same time, multi-threaded apps really scream . . . I just wish there were more available.

Keyboard – while it’s not the same feel as my beloved Thinkpad, the keyboard is enjoyable. What I really like, and didn’t realize I missed, is the number pad available for the right side. Typing is quite comfortable once I adapted to the large island style keys. Back lighting is a nice touch for nighttime work.

What I’m not fond of (but can live with):

Heat – if you’ve read reviews on hight heat from this laptop . . . they’re right. It’s not a deal breaker, but there is a definite ramp up of heat as the processor gets busy. I work at a desk most of the time, so this only affects me during typing and it’s not a big aggravation.

Battery – HP includes an extra battery that is extended, and I can get an hour of normal work in before it needs changing . . . as I said, I’m tethered to a desk most of the time, so this doesn’t affect me so much. Still, not so great to kick back on the couch.

Beats Audio – wow, I really wanted this to be more than it is . . . most reviews were favorable for the Beats audio on the Envy models, but I’m finding it no better than my old laptop. I’ve tried several settings, but it just doesn’t do any better (in some cases worse) than my old Thinkpad. No biggie as I plug in to speakers, but I was disappointed in the lack of clarity for what was promoted.

Perks and Misnomers

One thing I think I’m really going to like, once I make room, is the multi monitor aspect of this machine. You can run the laptop monitor as well as two other monitors at the same time . . . makes for great work space.

Many have griped about the finicky trackpad. There is a tendency to hold your “click”finger on the pad while trying to move the cursor which, in turn, cancels out the motion. This is managed better with repetition, so after a few instances, I figured out the pattern. Not a bother to me.

Overall, I am very satisfied with this notebook after two weeks. I think I’ll get several years of use from this laptop and am impressed with HP’s gaming laptop.