Meet the new iPhone 4S

This is the day that many tech enthusiasts have been waiting for for months. Normally Apple announces its iPhone hardware refresh during the summer. Well, this summer came and went without a peep from apple in terms of announcements. It wasn’t until earlier this afternoon that new Apple CEO Tim Cook took to a stage at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino to debut the iPhone 4s.

Yes, there was more to the ‘press conference’ than just the iPhone 4s (We got a full look at iOS 5 and update to the iPod nano & iPod touch lines), but the newest ‘Jesus phone’ was the star of show. Some of the rumors and predictions turned out to be true, while some were nowhere to be seen.  Let’s look through the top pros and cons.

Pros

1. iPhone on Sprint

Personally this is the biggest thing to come out of the entire announcement. As a Sprint customer, I’ve always been on the outside looking in with regards to the iPhone. I’ve been very happy with my Samsung Nexus S 4g since I bought it 5 months ago, but it’s still not an iPhone.

I’m a fan of the Android OS, but as cliché as it sounds it’s just not there yet. There’s a half a second delay when swiping between screens or when launching an app. Yes half a second is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but iOS devices don’t have the delay and it’s noticeable when going from my iPad to my current Android phone. Little things like that push me to the iPhone 4s, plus access to the huge catalog of apps available for iOS devices. The Android Marketplace has been gaining ground, and many of the big apps are starting to come out on Android very soon after their iOS release, but there’s still a much wider choice on the Apple side of things.

2. Upgraded Camera

The Camera upgrade is huge as well for 2 reasons: 8-Megapixels and 1080p video. Yes those are just tech specs, but the ability to shoot and edit (with the iMovie app) 1080p video on a handheld is just an amazing concept to try and wrap your brain around.

The 8-Megapixel camera truly shows that the age of point-and-shoot cameras is coming to an end. Having a standalone camera is nice, as many will take better pictures and give the user more options, but it’s not always needed. In fact, 80-90% of what the average person would use a point and shoot camera for can easily be accomplished with a mobile phone. The upgraded resolution just makes it even better.

3. Siri

This is the supposed killer app for the iPhone 4s. Siri is essentially a personal assistant that you interact with through voice recognition. What sets it apart from its predecessors is that it’s as close to artificial intelligence in a mass consumer device that we’ve ever seen. Not only does it interact with you by using and interpreting conversational speech, but it interacts with most of your most basic and important information.

The possibilities are really endless for how this feature could become the main way that you scheduled calendar events, tasks, and reminders. One of the coolest features is location based reminders. Say you tell Siri to remind you to call your mother when you leave the restaurant you’re currently eating at. Siri can use your GPS location to notice where you’re at and when it notices that you’re leaving the area pop up with a reminder to call your mother and you’ll have the option to call her right from Siri.

Cons

1. It’s not the iPhone 5

This really supersedes any other Cons. For those who already have an iPhone for, the question as to whether they should upgrade will be the biggest problem. As many have noted before, the move from the iPhone 3G to the 3GS wasn’t that big a jump and wasn’t worth the upgrade for many consumers. The same problem will exist for many here. The new features on the iPhone 4S are fun, intuitive and may be the start of a new ‘movement’ in mobile technology (referring to Siri), but whether it’s worth upgrading is still to be seen. And with Apple, you never know if next June they’ll call another press conference and announce the ‘Even Better iPhone 5!’

Many thought that Apple would announce something huge at today’s event. While the iPhone 4S is a very cool upgrade from the iPhone 4, it isn’t a mind blowing upgrade. In turn, some current users were left feeling underwhelmed.

When it comes down to it though, Sprint Customers like myself are giddy with excitement that they finally get to sit at the “cool kids’ table”. Now the question I have for Sprint is, “will you let those who aren’t elidgable for an upgrade buy the iPhone with a subsidized price like Verizon allowed its customers?”

The reports that Sprint has essentially bet the farm on this iPhone makes me think that they’ll do everything they can in order to keep customers and make them happy. I will gladly extend my contract with Sprint if it means I can get the iPhone 4s at a subsidized price. My money is sitting here Sprint…do you want it?

Superman, now with 100% less Underoos!

Can I say this..I’m genuinely disappointed with the new Superman outfit. I know that some will say that I’m too much of a purist and that with the DC ‘New 52’ initiative change is needed, but there’s something different about Superman.

Superman has always been a personal favorite of mine. Clark Kent and Matt Murdock (Daredevil) regularly battle for the title of ‘my personal favorite superhero’. And unlike Daredevil, who has a rather classic origin himself (having debuted in 1964), Superman is an American icon and holds a place not only in comic book history, but pop culture history. There’s something different about Superman in my eyes. To me he’s…more important because of his history.

For those that aren’t up to speed, DC Comics is currently ‘relaunching’ or ‘rebooting’ 52 of its biggest comic books. Everyone, from big names like Superman and Wonder Woman all the way to lesser known characters like Static Shock and Blue Beetle will go back to issue #1 . Officially DC says the reason for the relaunch is to make it easier for new readers to jump into a book, which I totally understand. As someone who only recently tapped into the comic book side of my geekdom, some of the books that were on issue 700+ were intimidating and the prospect of having to read through years worth of trades was daunting. Unofficially, many comic experts are saying the relaunch is an attempt to boost lagging sales. Either way, if you’re a comic book fan this is the story of the year.

Along with the relaunch of the stories comes some retooling of the outfits. The biggest retool is the garb of the man of steel. When it comes down to it, I understand that the outfit isn’t what makes Superman as special as he is…but it does play a part. Superman has to be the most visually known Superhero in the western world, if not one of the best known characters in media history. The classic Superman suit is iconic, it’s Americana and it’s a graphic representation of the best part of American culture.

Admittedly, I’m a purist when it comes to some things. I know that everything has to evolve to survive. It’s why Superman was killed in the mid 90s; DC had to make Superman relevant in a world that had changed since the 1940s and 50s. By his very nature, Superman is an incredibly difficult character to keep fresh because nothing hurts him. He’s invincible to everything except kryptonite, so what kind of tension can you really have when he’s fighting a big bad? Writers learned to put those close to Clark Kent in the line of fire as a way to increase tension, but Lois Lane can only get captured so many times before that, in and of itself, gets old. When Doomsday killed Superman, it showed that he could be hurt, he could be killed and he wasn’t completely invincible.

Death of Superman

But it’s been nearly 20 years since then, and I guess Superman is getting out of touch again…

Ever since its first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938, that suit has been the jumping off point for all superheroes after it. This is a double edged sword when you think about it. It means that the suit is iconic to the point that nearly every superhero since the late 30s is based off Superman. In turn, it means that Superman is like the old Atari 2600 game ‘Adventure’. All RPG games since Adventure’s release in 1979 took from that classic game, but not many people are satisfied with playing Adventure today. Not when games like Portal and Uncharted are readily available.

Characters like Batman have passed Superman in popularity, and Kal-El has to do something to get readers to identify with him again. Part of that process apparently involves ‘updating’ his suit. It definitely has a more modern look. It has that textured look that many superheroes have nowadays (this started with Brandon Routh’s Superman in Superman Returns). The red bottoms are gone to make the whole suit look sleeker and the outfit now comes with armor (why a man that’s invincible needs armor…I don’t know). The new suit isn’t just for the comic books though; Zack Snyder’s Superman movie The Man of Steel seems to be taking its cue from the new school as well.

Henry Cavill as Superman

When all is said and done, the stories are what makes Superman…I understand that. The Suit doesn’t define Superman, but I believe it’s a big part of what made him the cultural Icon he is. Nearly every kid put a pair of underoos over his (or her) pants at one point with a towel around his neck pretending to be Superman. Those days are now in the past. DC, I’m going to trust you. I’m going to have faith that you’ll be able to relaunch Superman for a new generation, while keeping him true to his roots.

But when I have kids, I’m still showing them how to put their underwear outside of their pants and tie a towel around their neck.

Zak Grim is a freelance writer, podcast host, producer and all around geek. You can follow him at @ZakGrim and www.ZakGrim.com.

It’s ‘What’ We Like, Not What We ‘Are’ Like…

When I started this project I had no idea what each post was going to be about, and I still don’t to a large degree. I knew that if I was going to stick with and continue it, I had to write about things I truly loved and enjoyed. So I started to think about what those things were: sports, movies & TV, comic books, non-fiction, the list went on. When I actually sat down to think about what I really enjoyed in this world I was reminded of a quote from one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time, High Fidelity.

John Cusack plays the down on his luck Rob Gordon. Rob owns a record shop in Chicago and spends the movie recounting the major relationships in his life in an  attempt to get over his complacent lifestyle, get back the girl and finally do something with his life. Much of the film’s charm (for me anyways) comes from the interaction between Rob and his two employees: Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black). The three regularly convene at the store’s cash register and debate their “top 5” on a given subject, all the while ignoring and loathing customers. It’s after one of these “Top 5” discussions that Rob breaks the 4th wall and tells the movie watcher,

“I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the f****n’ truth.”

So call me shallow, but I’m inclined to agree with Rob…

John Cusak in 'High Fidelity'

It’s one of the first things you talk about when you meet people for the first time. “I’m a big fan of (insert musical genre here)”; or if you’re a hipster “yeah…I’m really into this band called XXXX, you’ve probably never heard of them.” If it’s not music it’s movies or games or TV shows, but more often than not when we first meet someone we end up telling them what we like…not what we are like. Obviously this information has to be of vital importance to who we are, otherwise we wouldn’t be so eager to voice it.

Now before you start bemoaning consumer culture or talking about the problem with youths today (I’m 26…that still counts as youth right?), think about it. Everyone identifies themselves with some form of media and whatever media you identify yourself with says more about you than your ‘about me’ section on Facebook.

Someone loves Johnny Cash music? Yes they like country twang, but they also identify with the rebel more than the cop. Big fan of Bruce Lee movies? Yeah they enjoy the occasional beat-’em-up film, but they may identify with Bruce Lee’s actions on a philosophical level. Re-watch all 14 episodes of Firefly all the time? You’re into sci-fi, but you might be drawn in by Captain Malcolm Reynolds’ ability to adhere to such a strict moral code when you can not.

It’s not a bad thing that we identify with media, it’s simply another way to understand a person further. So the next time someone tells you that they loved Jaws, they may be trying to tell you that they identify with the classic struggle between man and nature. They may be trying to voice their longing to search for their own ‘white whale’, like both Captain Ahab and Quint.

Of course, for every person who watched Jaws for some deep, existential reason there are two that just wanted to see a shark bite a dude’s leg off…I never said the theory was without holes.

Hello World…

I decided that I need a place to deliver my thoughts and opinions in a more long form format. ‘Thoughts from a Geek’ will be my place to give a take on anything that strikes my fancy.

My goal is to find that elusive thing that all writers (and writer wannabes like myself) look for, a voice.

My plan, my public goal if you will, is to write & post at least one essay style post a week. There may be more some weeks, but the goal is to do a minimum of one a week. What will be the topics you ask? I’m a geek so you can guess how most of them will lean. Television, movies, gaming, comic books & technology are all topics that will be staples here. Don’t count anything out though; I’m a big sports fan so sports from the geek perspective will be in there I’m sure. Marketing and advertising is an interest, so that’ll be in there too.

So let’s go on this journey together…no telling where it may lead.