Archive for March, 2013

Announced 14th March 2013 in a spectacular Broadway-style production, the Samsung Galaxy S4 was unveiled in New York to a grand fanfare. Samsung went to a huge amount of trouble to bring in their new toy with a song and dance – but was the device as dramatic as the production… or was the production simply a distraction to big-up an over-puffed new device? 

At first glance you might not even realise it actually is a new phone – it looks almost identical to its predecessor, the Galaxy S3. Some commentators have even dubbed it the “Galaxy S3-Plus”, as it seems to have very little difference between the two products. Most have made comparisons to iPhone 5, especially when referring to it as more of a “tech-upgrade” to the S3 than a revolutionary overhaul – and you can hardly blame anyone for putting it up against something that came out a mere seven months ago, as iPhone 5 was.

 However, seven months is like a lifetime in tech-land. Out in April 2013 – the 26th to be exact, the S4 is racing away in the tech-stakes, ready to out-smart it’s smartest Smartphone rival.

 

A Galaxy Offering The World…

It’s long been said that it’s what on the inside that counts – and the Galaxy S4 has plenty on the inside to make it count. It is actually rather a tech-marvel. This latest edition of the Galaxy series sports an incredibly impressive octo-core processor (count ’em – that’s 8 Samsung-created ‘Exynos 5’ processors) running at 1.6GHz – that’s a lot of power for a little phone – and they are supported by 2GB of RAM… In other words, it’s almost completely surprising that it doesn’t do the washing up, drive the car, sort out the laundry, and all this whilst doing everything for you – as well as make your phone calls on it. It also means this little phone has equal specs – in some cases, better specs – than some average household PCs.

Running on Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2), this handset makes the most of what this OS platform is capable of. It supports the new “Smart” technology that Samsung has built into this handset, and they certainly sound like very fun and handy extras to have. First there are the “Air Gestures” – you only need to hover your hand over the screen and the phone will react to what you’re doing. Hover your finger over emails to preview them with Air View,  answer calls with Air Call Accept, flip through music and pictures, or skip to the top of a list without ever having to touch your phone – great if you’ve got messy fingers from eating or cooking. Then there’s also Smart Scroll – tilt the device to scroll up and down; Smart Stay – tracking your eyes to tell what you’re looking at; and Smart Pause – will pause video you’re watching if you stop watching it.

The S4 is integrated with the new NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, so Google Wallet can be used to pay in stores, and music and pictures can be shared via Group Play. With just one little bump of the handset onto another NFC device – whether mobile phone or a specially-designed piece of hardware like a payment machine (it’s the same idea as how London’s Oyster Card system, or your “Connect” debit card, works) – the data, or payment, is transmitted easily and instantaneously from one device to the other. It also sports 4G LTE, so it’s ready to go when your chosen network starts using 4G services – and offers a decent data package for using it.

 

Screen Icon

With a 5-inch full-HD Super AMOLED screen (with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels), protected from scrapes by Gorilla Glass 3, the S4 is perfect for watching videos and movies, as well as looking at your pictures  – taken on its 13 MP camera. This is coupled with a  2MP front-facing camera – which is also used together with the main camera in the “Dual Camera” function. This is a clever, new idea that allows the photographer to appear in pictures, videos, video calls along with everyone else, by taking a picture/video recording of them with the front-facing camera at the same time as the main back camera records everyone else. It enables everyone to be in the video call, picture, or video recording at the same time, with no one left out.

With up to 64GB of on-board memory, all the movies, music, pictures and videos you’ll want to keep will be easy to store on the phone without a problem. There will be the usual lineup of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB edition handsets, but they can also be upgraded with micro SD memory cards for even more storage – so you can add up to an extra 64GB on top of the on-board memory (that the handset carries internally).

All this is encased in an almost identical handset to its S3 predecessor, available in “Black Forest” and “White Frost”. It is thinner and lighter, and slightly bigger, than the S3 though – and given what it carries in it, it’s quite impressive that Samsung manage to offer much more tech with less space.

 

Because I’m Worth It…?

This is no doubt why there have been reports of a flurry of trade-ins for the new shiny toy coming to the market. However, and interestingly, it has also been reported these are predominantly from Samsung users who are looking for the next upgrade, rather those who are looking to trade from other manufacturers.

If the specs indeed live up to their promise and the tech really is as amazing as it sounds, there’s no doubt it’ll be flying off the shelves no matter what the price tag on it will be – regardless of the fact it looks like the S3’s almost-twin brother.

It’s quite easy to imagine that all that processing power, the 13MP camera with Dual Camera ability, and all the “Smart” tech integrated into the system (and who wouldn’t be swayed by a phone who knows what you want almost as you think it, even if it is just by tracking your eyes and where you hover your hand?) will convince us that now even touching a device is “so eighteen-months-ago…” and make us even more demanding and lazy when it comes to usability – heaven forbid we have to actually manually scroll through things anymore when the phone should simply do it for you…

Is it worth it? I imagine there will be people out there in a few months time wondering how they ever managed to survive without it!

***

 – Here Comes The Science! –  

THE MAIN SPECS

  • Octo-core (8 Exynos 5 processors) running at 1.6GHz
  • 2GB RAM
  • 5″ Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) Super AMOLED screen
  • Gorilla Glass 3 screen protection
  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS
  • 13MP camera / 2MP front facing, with Dual Camera function
  • 16GB/ 32GB/ 64GB Handsets (in Black Forest or White Frost)
  • Micro SD slot for extra memory
  • “Smart” tech – Smart Scroll, Smart Stay, Smart Pause, Air Gestures
  • NFC
  • Wifi (802.1)
  • Bluetooth (4.0)
  • 4G LTE (ready)

 

 

 

Samsung Galaxy S-IV

It’s iPad 4 – but Apple choose to call it iPad with Retina. Despite the fact iPad 3 had Retina. Then they took iPad 3 off the market and replaced it with this version completely. As of February 2013 Apple then revved up the new iPad4/Retina by adding a 128GB model to the family. For less than £100 extra over the 64GB model, no less… But that still makes it £739.

So just what is it about iPad 4 (or iPad with Retina) that makes people hand over anywhere from£400 to £740 for one?

… Everyone will now answer in unison: “Because it’s awesome… d’uh!!” … Yes, no arguments there. But why is it? Just what does an Apple product have that others don’t? And more specifically here – what does iPad have that other tablets don’t?

 

He-Man in a Tablet…
First to any cynics: iPad 4 is not a shiny and overpriced gimmick. This is upfront a powerful bit of hardware other tablets, so far, don’t live up to. Apple don’t really push that fact too much, though – because, lets face it, who out of most of us care about processors, chips, core graphics specs, pixels and other such technical words? Consumers generally just want shiny “must-haves”, and this clear fact of the iPad being an impressive bit of tech tends to be undersold and glossed over; those who care will know.

But for the non-tech-heads who also want to know, this iPad has a lot to offer to make it a fabulous portable computer, and and all in less than 10 inches of a slimline, handheld device.

iPad 4 (Retina) is nicely powered by Dual Core A6X processor chips and has Quad Core Graphics… In English, this means it has two very powerful mobile-device little “engines” and allows double that (four times) in graphics ability. No, it won’t do the washing up, but there’s little else it can’t do.

This also supports their easy-use Operating System iOS6, which has made using all touchscreen Apple products so much more fun, fluid and capable. It ensures apps work well, games run fluidly, videos play smoothly, browsers are fast and capable of easily managing full desktop websites, and the Retina-upgraded apps work brilliantly, as well as look amazing. It also makes the iPad editions of magazines available via the App Store Newsstand – easily readable, and this is especially perfect for interactive content such as videos and 360-degree interactive images within them.

 

Hardworking Hardware
The results of having all this power means you do have the ability to run your entire work and personal life via this device. The TechNow Geek blog was created via this device, and is also administrated, written, updated and published directly on iPad 4 via the WordPress app and Apple iWorks’ Pages (Apple’s – arguably better – answer to MS Word). FaceTime video calling is easy and flawless over wifi – and even on 3G – for family or business calls, has the latest Bluetooth and Wifi technology, and manages 7-10 hours of battery life (depending on use, and whether over wifi or 3G connection).

iPad 4 also introduces 4G LTE (4th Generation – Long Term Evolution) to the iPad family. This is a service currently only available on the EE network (Everyone Everywhere – the mergence of Orange and T-Mobile) in the UK [at time of writing], but this will be rolled out across all networks and the country within two years – and iPad 4 is more than ready for this new incarnation of mobile broadband.

It’s wrapped up in an aluminium unibody, making it extremely light and very durable. The screen has fingerprint-resistant glass and an amazing bright and clear Retina display (which means an impressive 2048×1536 of pixels… HD is usually 1920×1080 pixels). It sports a 5MP camera with 1080p (full HD) video recording, with some extra bells and whistles to make photography and video-capture so much better and fun. The front-facing camera has also been bumped up – to 1.2MP with 720p video recording, perfect for better FaceTime chats.

The new USB charger, the Lightening Connector, might have left owners of precious Apple device a little miffed (because it makes the new iPad incompatible with old iPod/iPad docks and chargers). But it is a well-designed upgrade to the previously larger charging slot (aka the 30-pin charging head) that the older iPads had. The charging head is now tiny, made with magnets and can be inserted any way (there’s no “upside down” mistakes anymore), and is much easier to insert and remove than it was before. It still plugs into the USB socket on a computer, and it also comes with it’s own USB plug, so you can insert the USB cable into the plug and charge it from a wall socket too. Since the last charger style was created about 10 years ago now, it’s was probably time for a modernised change to it to make it easier to use!

Is Size Important?
iPad 4 now comes in four different sizes – internal storage sizes – and two colours. The choice is between 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB in both wifi-only and Cellular (3/4G) models, and in either black or white. For most people, the main concern will be price – they don’t come cheap. And choosing Cellular or wifi-only adds an extra £100 to each model.

Choosing the right storage size (pricing aside) is based entirely on what you plan to use it for. If you want your whole music collection, games, apps galore, a few magazines/newspapers from the Newsstand, a couple of your favourite movies, and still want room for your holiday photos and videos, a 16GB model just isn’t going to cut it. All these things take up a lot of space and you may be surprised by how quickly that space gets eaten up.

Up to 2GB is already allocated to the system and pre-installed apps, so you need to work with the amount that is left after that. An enthusiastic user of iTunes (music, movies and TV shows), Newsstand, App Store, and iOS games would probably need to think about getting a minimum of 32GB if they want to keep most of their downloads active on the device. If you can only manage to afford a 16GB model, you’re not going to be able to store everything on the device itself, relying on iCloud, and possibly other cloud storage options, to transfer pictures, saved video-captures, documents, and so forth – or deleting things that aren’t often used, or vital.

Of course, if you can afford – or save up for – the 128GB model, you should probably go for it. I can imagine even on this model there will be users huffing about requiring even more space. I – for one – could probably manage to stuff it completely quite easily, and fairly quickly!

 

Because I’m Worth It…?
There was at least one case of a young man donating a kidney for the money to buy an iPad (oh yes, that really happened!). People stand in line for days to be the first person to own a new incarnation at launch. They part with – what most people would call – a small fortune for one.

Are Apple just marketing geniuses (well, yes, they are…) – or are they gadget geniuses (well, again – yes, they are)… OK – those are obvious questions and answers. And I think we all know the problem for our wallets – and bank balances – is that they are most definitely both. They know what we want before we know what we want, then they tell us we want it and why… Because it’s awesome. When they tell us why it’s awesome, it turns out they’re actually telling the truth after all, the jammy buggers – yes, it really is absolutely awesome! Apple create and deliver excellent, amazing and imaginative products that are durable and pure quality – and people love buying things like that.

***
– Here Comes The Science! –

THE MAIN SPECS

  • iOS 6.1
  • Dual Core A6X – with Quad-Core Graphics
  • 5MP camera with 1080p HD video recording
  • 1.2MP front-facing camera with 720pHD video recording for FaceTime
  • 9.6 inch Retina Display (2048×1536 pixels)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wifi 802.11
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life
  • USB Lightening Connector

 

Model Variants:
Black / White
16GB / 32GB / 64GB /128GB
Either Wifi-only or Wifi + Cellular (3/4G)

 

 

Apple UK iPad Site:
http://www.apple.com/uk/ipad/specs/

iPad & iOS Site:
http://www.apple.com/uk/ipad/ios/

iPad & iCloud Site:
http://www.apple.com/uk/ipad/icloud/

EE 4G:
http://explore.ee.co.uk/4gee

EE 4G Coverage:
https://explore.ee.co.uk/coverage-checker

 

iPad 4 white