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All posts tagged "hardware"


Monday, September 24, 2012

High-End Android Smart Phones, What's Here and What's Coming!

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Talk" @ 02:00 PM

One of the best things about Android is you can pick the phone with the features you want and there are plenty of choices. Size, weight, battery life, processor type, display type, display size, connectivity, and upgradable storage are just some of the options you have to choose from. In this article I'll explain what some of the differences are and hopefully help you choose a phone that best meets your needs.

I'll start by talking about some of the technologies in phones, grouping my thoughts by component. Then I will list some of the new high-end phones available now and expected to be released later this year. I'm not covering phones with pen input, like the Galaxy Note 2, because there are only a few of those to choose from. What are you looking for in a smart phone? I would love to hear your thoughts! Read more...


Monday, July 23, 2012

Notes from an iOS User: My Week with a Google Nexus 7

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Android Slates/Tablets & Accessories" @ 01:30 PM

"My first Android experience has been very, very positive, thanks to Google's Nexus 7 and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). I received my tablet a week ago, and also received a $25 Google Play credit as an early purchaser. My initial thoughts were that I'd use the tablet primarily as a reader - but it's much more than a Kindle (Fire) replacement."

As a longtime iOS device user, and like most modern device users, I have my biases, and have kept them firmly in mind when using an Android device for the first time. But, maintaining objectivity has been easy with this tablet. I'm guessing that skipping the earlier Android releases have saved me from some amount of frustration, just as skipping earlier iOS versions would have in the iDevice world. The bottom line is that so far I'm not finding much missing from Android.

I have several "must haves," including Banking, Browsing, Calendaring, Contacts, Dropbox, Email, Facebook, Foursquare, Kindle reader, LinkedIn, MS Office-type apps, PDF reader, Search, Skype, Text editing, and Travel apps. All present, and arguably equal to the iOS versions. Not as many app choices from Google Play, but all I need is one of each.

Things that I like so far, in no particular order: Android 4.1.1 - already one patch automatically downloaded to Jelly Bean; Battery life is very good; Customization is as simple as the iPad - the home screen is easy to configure; the display is very, very good - not quite up to the new iPad, but excellent for much less money; Sound quality is good; Security is good - face recognition login authentication can be configured to require a blink, making security stronger; Performance is excellent - I haven't noticed anything crapping out or any lags in performance, at the app or UI level; Shutting down running apps is a breeze, much simpler than iOS; Removing apps is easy; Reading is a breeze on this form factor - no more carpal tunnel holding and reading an iPad. Comfortable to hold and use. Many pros to this device!

Things that are less than stellar (and I admit freely that maybe I just don't know enough about Android yet): Apps on the home screen cannot be ordered or arranged for a whole screen - must be dragged and bumped individually; Setup options are not as rich as iOS; iCloud mail is handled a bit better in iOS, as one would expect; Google Play Store doesn't seem to have an easy way of selecting "tablet-only apps," aside from Staff Picks for Tablets. A pretty short list of cons.

Overall, a very positive experience so far, and, while I'm not dumping my iPad, my Nexus 7 is already getting more use than my earlier small tablets, a Nook tablet and a Kindle Fire, both of which were too restrictive for me, and were sold pretty quickly. For the money (I got the 16GB model), this is a superb tablet, and the Android experience is a pleasure. I like the fact that it is not "carrier specific," so it has none of the bloatware associated with subsidized devices. The Nexus 7 is a keeper!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Samsung Galaxy SIII Review

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Talk" @ 10:00 AM

http://www.droid-life.com/2012/06/1...laxy-s3-review/

"Are you ready for 2GB of RAM? How about a phone that lets you and your friends share the world with a couple of clicks? Do you want to be a part of the next Android global phenomenon? This is the phone that is supposed to bring all of that – let’s see if it did."

It's almost old news now but the Samsung Galaxy SIII is a hit and still a phone people are talking about. I figured there are probably many who are thinking about buying one but haven't made the move. Check out the review after the break.

This phone is well future proofed (assuming Samsung supports it well) with the excellent performance of the Snapdragon S4, 720x1280 3.8" SuperAMOLED display, 2GB of RAM, removable battery, and MicroSDXC. It's one of the first phones that has MicroSDXC as opposed to MicroSDHC. This means instead of being limited to 32GB of MicroSD storage the theoretical limit is 2TB! They advertise 64GB since that's the largest that's available right now. The 2GB of RAM was a smart move too. Many phones have been limited being upgradable to the next version of Android (whatever it was at the time) due to not having enough memory. That will not be a problem with the North American version of the Galaxy SIII for a while.

I have a few friends who bought it and are very happy with it. The battery life seems to be excellent and the performance is awesome. I think the screen looks great on it too even though it is PenTile. Did you buy the Galaxy SIII? Which carrier do you have? How has your experience been with it so far?


Friday, July 6, 2012

The ASUS Google Nexus 7: A Performance Beast

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 09:00 AM

http://www.wired.com/reviews/2012/0...y-number-7/all/

"Note to all tablet makers not named Asus: This is how you make a 7-inch tablet.

The Nexus 7, the first tablet to wear Google's Nexus brand, sets a new standard for smaller slates, proving that just because it isn't as big as Apple's iPad doesn't mean it can't be just as useful, as fast, or as fun. If you've been on the fence about Android, or tablets in general, this is the tablet you've been waiting for."

Most of the initial hands-on reviews for the wifi-only Nexus 7 are positive, and this one is no exception. The biggest complaint so far has been the lack of tablet applications for Android, so, for example, the user can be "stuck" with up-sized phone apps for popular apps like Facebook and Twitter. The near-IPS quality 1280x800 screen, at about 216ppi, is superb, and the quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 coupled with 1GB of RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of storage, is, as the author puts it, a beast. The first Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet screams, with none of the earlier OS hiccups, and the price is right, at $199 for 8GB, and $249 for 16GB. Out of the box, the tablet is obviously Google-centric, but can be tweaked, and the full Google Play store is available. Early purchasers (I was one) receive a $25 credit for the store, so I'll be able to add my obligatory "MS Office" equivalent. Shipping is scheduled for mid-July 2012 (I hope) so check back here as we review more real world experiences with the Google Nexus 7 from ASUS.


ARCHOS ELEMENTS 97 carbon Tablet Announced

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 12:00 AM

"ARCHOS, an award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, is pleased to introduce the ARCHOS 97 carbon, the first of its new tablet range called "ELEMENTS", an entry-level line up of 7, 8, and 9.7 inch tablets that combine ARCHOS design and engineering with full access to Google PlayTM and a full suite of Google apps at an affordable price."

Interesting to see the new tablets coming to market at consumer-friendly prices. This 9.7-inch tablet sports an IPS screen, plays 1080p HD video, weighs 21.8-ounces, and is 0.45-inches thick. With a 1-GHz processor (no further processor details were available), 1GB RAM, and 16GB storage, the Carbon 97 is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) 4.0 and is set to debut this July (2012) with a price of $249.99 or less. Interesting to also note that the carbon 97 supports expandable memory via SDHC cards up to 32GB and (or?) USB flash drives from a full-sized USB port. It'll be interesting to see if ARCHOS can crash the tablet party, and give the bigger players some competition at this price point.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: Mediocre, Less Expensive

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/15/..._medium=twitter

"When we review a second-generation product there are certain things we tend to take for granted: this new thing, whatever it is, will be thinner, faster, longer-lasting, maybe even with more bells and whistles in tow."

It seems that cheaper isn't always better for the consumer. Samsung has taken their original Galaxy Tab 10.1 and released a "refresh" that is nearly identical, but in some cases have downgraded peformance. But it's cheaper, so it's now competing at the $400 price point with many other tablets (Surprise, Samsung - everybody lowered their prices!). Rather than progressing with design and performance, Samsung took the safe route, and kept to the middle of the road = minimal change. Compromises have been made.

Still sporting a quality 1280x800 display, Samsung has moved the speakers from underneath of the front side, eliminating the muffle effect when lying flat, but they're still buzzy at high volume. Performance lags its Tegra 3 competition, and the user experience is less-than-thrilling, as the OS suffers inexplicable lags and stutters, and the screen becomes unresponsive at times. Battery life comes in at about 9-hours in real life, oddly almost an hour less than the original galaxy Tab 10.1. Apps are pretty standard, on top of ICS 4.0.3 and Samsung's TouchWiz UI-layer. The onboard cameras are pretty dismal, even by tablet standards.

Overall, Samsung has produced an upgrade (or refresh) destined to get lost in the market shuffle of $400 tablets. Really nothing to recommend it over any other tablet in this price range, and there are better choices. Disappointing.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Toshiba Thrive is Dead - Long Live the Excite

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:00 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/10/...0-13-announced/

"You complained, Toshiba listened. After its Thrive tablets were widely panned for their short battery life and chunky, cheap-feeling design, the outfit decided to put those models out to pasture and start anew. So bid goodbye to the Thrives, then, and say hello to the Excite 7.7, 10 and 13 (yes, 13). If you've been paying attention, these are the same tablets we first saw in prototype form at CES (and again at Mobile World Congress), complete with their slim builds and textured aluminum backs."

Interesting that Toshiba has decided that a 13-inch tablet (with a 1600x900 display) will resonate with consumers. The aluminum-backed Excite series certainly looks better (the Thrive was rather clunky), has some high-end specs (but WiFi-only), but isn't cheap in the larger configurations! Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is standard on all three, and they each have NVIDIA's quad-core (or, more accurately, 4+1 core processing) Tegra 3 SoC. The Excite 7.7 weighs 13.4-ounces, the Excite 10 model weighs 1.32-pounds, and delivers 10-hours of battery life, and seven days of standby power, while the Excite 13 weighs 2.2-pounds and claims 13-hours of battery life, and the same standby power rating of seven days. Availability is May 6, 2012 for the Excite 10, and June 10, 2012 for the Excite 7.7 and the Excite 13. Prices vary according to the configuration, but oddly enough the Excite 10 is less expensive than the Excite 7.7, according to Toshiba's press release. A 13-inch tablet sounds a bit unwieldy to me, thoughts?


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coby Releases a Bunch of ICS Tablets

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 10:00 AM

http://androidcommunity.com/cobys-c...lable-20120327/

"It’s a sad but nonetheless true fact that small and sometimes unconsidered manufacturers can often get their act together faster than larger and well-regarded ones. So it is with American low-end electronics maker Coby, which has just made its latest round of Android tablets available for purchase, according to Liliputing."

Many of these have strange and/or poor displays like 9.7" 1024x768 or 8" 800x600 but the 9" and 10" models with 1280x800 resolution could be just what you're looking for. While only a single core CPU they still have 1GB of RAM, MicroSD slot, HDMI port (I'm guessing it's MicroHDMI), and USB port (I'm guessing MicroUSB here too). Not sure about the GPU but it should be something respectable for an ICS tablet. I'd be more concerned about the GPU then having a dual-core processor as far as it being a useful device. One down side, they don't have access to Google Play Store but it comes with GetJar installed for you to find your favorite apps. The Amazon Appstore is always an option too.

So, would you buy a tablet from Coby? For only $279 to get the best model that's not a bad deal. Of course there are deals out there on dual-core tablets from last year that could come close to this price.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Dual-Core Samsung Galaxy Player 70 Plus

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 06:00 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/05/...-dual-core-med/

"The Galaxy Player 70 Plus appears to be a powered-up version of its 5-inch device from last year, side-stepping the design tweaks we saw last week on the Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 -- the other new (similarly long-winded) Android PMP from Samsung."

The Galaxy Player 70 Plus is another iPod competitor from Samsung. The hardware looks good for a media player with a 1GHz dual-core (I'm guessing it's an Exynos which is a good thing), 16 or 32 GB of storage, 5MP camera (probably not the front camera though it looks like it has a front camera), 5" display, and a generous 2500mHA battery. That battery should last quite a while since it's not powering any cell radio's. Apparently it's only available in Korea right now.

What do you think? Is a dual-core, 5" media player a device you could in your collection?


Saturday, January 21, 2012

ASUS Transformer Prime: Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) Improvements

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 PM

http://www.businessinsider.com/fina...used-to-2012-1#

"I've been hanging on to the Asus Transformer Prime for the last month for a reason.

Even though the tablet launched a few weeks ago, the real news was that Asus was going to push out a major update to the new version of Google's Android called Ice Cream Sandwich."

Looks like a very good Android tablet has gotten better with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) - better performance, better multitasking, and the hardware just feels faster. In fact, the author states that swiping between screens is now faster than on the iPad2. Improved browser performance is another advantage, and there is now a control panel "for controlling stuff." Unfortunately, quality tablet apps are still lacking, according to the author, and there appear to be bugs in the ICS update process, and with the tablet's GPS. Despite these improvements, again according to the author, the iPad2 still is ahead in the overall user experience, but this is the best Android tablet to date.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Isn't it Time to Recycle Those Old Electronics?

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple News" @ 04:00 PM

http://dealnews.com/features/Out-wi...ics/535731.html

"This Christmas, there were reportedly nearly 7 million new Android and iOS activations (between December 24 and December 25), which was largely a result of smartphone gift-giving."

Great article on some resources so you know where to go to recycle, or get some cash for those electronics that you have replaced with newer, faster, better versions. I also find that putting them on craigslist seems to work pretty if they are still functional so someone else can get some use out of your newly replaced items. If they aren't functional, check with your local garbage/recycling company for ideas on where to take your non functioning items.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Slipping into the LTE Jetstream -- a review of Rogers' HTC Jetstream

Posted by Don Tolson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 08:30 AM

Product Category: Tablet
Manufacturer: HTC
Where to Buy: Rogers or AT&T
Price: USD $499 w/3 year contract, $799 w/o contract from Rogers; $599 with w/2 year contract, $749 w/o contract from AT&T
System Requirements: Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) with HTC Sense
Specifications: 256mm (10.1in diagonal) LCD tablet with 1.5GHz, dual core CPU; 1G RAM; Quad band GPRS, Tri-band HPSA + LTE; 32G internal memory (28G available) + microSD card slot (32G maximum); 250mm (9.87in) x 178mm (7in) x 13mm (0.5in); 750g (26.5oz). Full specifications can be found here.

Pros:

  • First LTE-capable tablet available in Canada;
  • Very comfortable size and weight;

Cons:

  • Pricey compared to other tablet offerings available;
  • Yet another non-standard charging/sync port.

Summary: In October 2011, with much fanfare, Rogers announced the availability of the HTC Jetstream (aka the HTC P715a) -- Canada's first LTE-capable tablet. Even though the LTE network is limited to three cities in Canada (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver) we were able to get one of the preview units and play with it for a week in Victoria and Vancouver! So, does an LTE-equipped tablet run circles around mere 3G/H models? The results were surprising. Read more...


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ARCHOS 70b Internet Tablet for $199 in January 2012

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Archos Tablets" @ 09:30 PM

"DENVER, CO – (December 20, 2011) – ARCHOS, an award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, announced today the upcoming availability of the first android 3.2 ‘’Honeycomb’’ tablet under $200, the ARCHOS 70b internet tablet. The new ARCHOS 70b IT is an enhanced version of the ARCHOS 70 IT Gen 8 that features an upgraded capacitive touch screen and a powerful processor at 1.2 GHz."

With Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), 8GB storage, full access to the Android Market, 1024x600 capacitive LCD, and a fair complement of ports, this may be a good buy for those that don't like (or want) the Kindle Fire's training wheels (UI). With "only" 512MB RAM, I don't expect lightning performance, and the lack of details as to the nature of their "powerful processor" is a bit puzzling. I've seen ARCHOS products in retail stores, but haven't had the desire to test one, but the 70b may change my mind. I had a Kindle Fire, but wasn't impressed, and sold it, maybe this will be a better (or real) introduction to Android. Anyone have experience with ARCHOS products?


Thursday, December 15, 2011

HTC Flyer Gets Android Honeycomb (3.2) Update

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 08:00 PM

http://www.netbooknews.com/41485/ht...b-review-video/

"Great news if you’re an HTC Flyer user: the Taiwanese smartphone giant has released the Android 3.2 update for its 7-inch tablet. The update weighs in at 210MB and bumps the version of Android from 2.3 Gingerbread up to the proper 3.2 Honeycomb for tablets."

This has been long-awaited, but it's finally here! The Flyer has been a good performer with Android Gingerbread, and should be quite impressive with a true tablet OS. Aside from the enhanced dedicated stylus button, the other buttons become inactive. It'll be interesting to see if the 7-inch form factor catches on after the success of the Kindle Fire.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

HTC's Portable Bluetooth Conference Speaker

Posted by Nurhisham Hussein in "Windows Phone Accessories" @ 02:00 AM

http://www.expansys-usa.com/htc-por...bs-p200-226606/

1323852035.usr14226.jpg (400×266)

As accessories go this one's rather specialised, but you don't have to use it as a conference call speaker - it works just fine as just a speaker. That means movies, music, what-have-you's, can be played through it, and that versatility makes the price a little more palatable. It's not available yet, but you can pre-order through Expansys.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Verizon DROID XYBOARD: 8.2 & 10.1 4G LTE Tablets

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 AM

http://www.slashgear.com/verizon-dr...icial-06200283/

"Verizon has made the DROID XYBOARD Android tablets official, the 4G LTE versions of Motorola’s XOOM 2 and XOOM 2 Media Edition slates. The 10.1-inch and 8.2-inch tablets each have a 1280 x 800 IPS display, 5-megapixel main camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, along with WiFi a/b/g/n and that all important EVDO Rev.A/LTE. An upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich is expected in the new year."

A great feature of this tablet is that the 4G LTE network can be shared with up to eight (8) tethered clients, otherwise, not much else is different (that is readily apparent) from Motorola's initial versions. I'm intrigued by the 8.2-inch screen, as I've found that a 7-inch form factor is a bit too small for my old eyes, and the 1280x800 IPS screen should make things crisp and clear! On a two-year conytract, the 8.2 will cost $430 for a 16GB model, and $530 for a 32GB model, while the 10.1 starts at $530 for 16GB, $630 for 32GB, and $730 for 64GB. In addition, data plans start at $30/month. Seems a bit pricey in today's market.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Engadget Reviews the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 11:30 AM

http://www.samsung.com/us/microsite...ytab/index.html

"We've already established that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a great tablet. Then, just recently, we summarily found that the 1.2-inch smaller Galaxy Tab 8.9 is an even better tablet -- at least for anyone who wants to take their slate places. So, following that logic, the even more petite Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus should be the best of the three, right?"

I'm not a fan of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 because of the lack of MicroSDHC, MicroHDMI, and MicroUSB. The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus actually adds MicroSDHC so that's cool but it has a 1024x600 screen instead of the 1280x800 screen on the larger models. Keep in mind though, while the resolution is lower the screen is significantly smaller so it actually has a higher dpi then the 10.1 at 170dpi compared to 149dpi on the 10.1 - so it will look sharper at the same distance. The 8.9" model actually has the same dpi as the 7" at 170dpi. One interesting difference is the inclusion of an IR port and software that let you use the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus as a universal remote. The review shows good performance, thanks to a 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, and battery life so if you're looking for a 7" tablet you should definitely check it out.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rumor: Lenovo 5-inch LePad (IdeaTab) Tablet

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 10:30 PM

http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/22/...d-tablet-becau/

"No matter how tempting the specs on Lenovo's leaked 10.1-inch tablet are, you might prefer something fairly more portable just for the sake of your regular pockets. Well, it looks like Lenovo's got you covered, too. Freshly delivered from the same anonymous tipster are a stash of photos depicting a dual-core 5-inch Android tablet, which will apparently be marketed under the usual LePad brand in China as well as an upcoming IdeaTab brand for elsewhere (to help differentiate tablets from the IdeaPad laptop line)."

Considering how poorly Dell's 5-inch Streak tablet has done in the marketplace, it's a bit puzzling that Lenovo would consider building their own 5-inch tablet. Could this be actually a (big) phone from Lenovo? All the photos provided in this "leak" were vague at best, with none showing a screen, so, my guess would be that this "tablet" *will* really be a phone. Thoughts, anyone?


Androinica Reviews the Moto Droid Razr

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 11:30 AM

http://androinica.com/2011/11/motor...id-razr-review/

"With the Droid Razr, Motorola attempts to marry the game-changing attributes of its two most important brands of the modern smartphone era. The phone is once again sleek and sharp like the latter half of its name would imply, but bold and limit-pushing like the former. So how successful is Motorola at merging form and function in its latest phone?"

If you're not familiar with the Droid Razr it's a very thin Android phone that packs a powerful 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM along with 16GB of storage and it comes with an additional 16GB card. It also has a 540x960 4.3" display. This review covers a little bit of everything about it. One thing that's noteworthy is apparently the Droid Razr has better battery life than any other LTE Android phone. The reviewer also said the call quality was "really good", better than he is used to, and he doesn't mind the UI that Moto put on this thing adding that it has some nice features - much improved from the old Blur that so many people hated. On the downside he didn't love the Super AMOLED Advanced qHD display.

Read the full review for all the details. Will the Droid Razr be your next phone?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Engadget Reviews the Sensation XL

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 06:00 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/14/...tion-xl-review/

"Yes, the family's Windows Phone flagship, the Titan certainly tickled our fancy -- no other phone had landed on that nascent OS with such a screen. But the Sensation XL faces phones both bigger (and only slightly smaller) in the increasingly crowded world of Android."

Check out the Engadget review of this new Android phone from HTC with a 4.7" Super LCD display. It's only 480x800 but if you're looking for something with a big screen and you're not so concerned about the resolution or pixel density this could be just what you're looking for. The Sensation also uses a single core 1.5GHz Qualcomm CPU instead of going with a dual core processor you may expect. Engadget has a video and all their thoughts to help you make your decision.


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