Will the real iPhone please stand up

ZARA BAXTER
Last updated 08:46 19/09/2012

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OPINION: The big tech news of last week is that New Zealanders will get the Apple iPhone 5 on September 28. As soon as the carriers announce their plans, pre-orders will open, which should happen this week.

Perhaps more interesting than the phone itself is its reception. US comedian and TV host Jimmy Kimmel took an iPhone 4 - released two years ago - onto the streets, telling people it was the iPhone 5.

Everyone, including people with the current model iPhone 4S, believed that it was. Not only that, but they praised its speed, lightness, extra size, design and more. As Nick Dwyer of GeorgeFM pointed out to to me, it's like Heston Blumenthal putting cheap spumante on the table and having people think it's fine champagne. The authority of Kimmel and Blumenthal contributes, but expectation is everything.

I can recommend the iPhone 5 if you expect it to be better than the previous models. Otherwise, wait for the reviews.

EUROPE GRANTS ACCESS TO ORPHAN WORKS

For a long time, Project Gutenberg has been putting out-of-copyright works onto the internet in plain text, ebook format and HTML, so that anyone can read them. Google Books has a similar service.

In the US, this has meant 40,000 works produced before 1923 are available, such as Frank L Baum's Wizard of Oz and sequels. In Europe, however, access to these "orphaned" books has been patchier. For many countries in Europe, even if no copyright holder could be found for a European book, you still couldn't freely copy it.

Until now. The European Parliament has just voted to allow anyone to access "orphan works"; not just books, but also images such as photographs and artworks. This is a fantastic initiative.

WORTH BOTHERING WITH NEW WI-FI?

Considering a new wireless modem or modem/router? You may see some new products labelled “802.11AC”, “5G wireless” or “Wireless-AC”. Routers these days mostly come with wireless-n, which transmits data at speeds ranging from 150 megabits per second to 900 megabits per second. Wireless-AC is a new standard that provides for faster wireless speeds, as well as reducing interference from other gadgets.

However, for now I'd suggest sticking with the slightly older 802.11n (wireless-n) products for two reasons.

Firstly, New Zealand internet speeds are generally slower than 802.11n, so you won't see any benefit for your browsing. Unless you're streaming full HD video (1080P) from your PC to your TV or similar, you're unlikely to see any performance benefit from 802.11AC.

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More importantly, unless most of the gadgets on your network are 802.11AC you won't see speed improvements. Asus has announced a laptop that is 802.11AC compatible, but it probably won't launch in New Zealand, and we won't get any similar laptops until early 2013 at the earliest.

In other words, until you upgrade your laptop or other gadgets to 802.11AC, you may as well stick with the cheaper 802.11n.

Zara Baxter edits New Zealand PC World. Visit pcworld.co.nz

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