979 posts • joined Tuesday 23rd September 2008 12:02 GMT
don't unserstand the omission of Sony
As best as I can tell, the Sony smart watch does everything these devices can, more reliably, better, cheaper (Â£75 on Amazon) has a much larger catalogue of apps and widgets and with few, if any, of the limitations you highlight. So, other than being nearly 18 months old now, I don't understand why it only got a passing mention in the opening section? Anyone reading the article would get the impression there are no mature devices available that do all the things you list but that isn't the case.
you guys are weird
I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that but cubes? Sexy? Seriously? When was the last time you saw a woman as wide and deep as she was tall and thought to yourself "Mmm, sexy!"? And as for the PS3 bread bin...
Re: Not quite there yet
Funnily enough, just yesterday, someone at work was trying to get an older version of Assassin's Creed running on one of the work PCs* (Core i3, Intel HD2000 graphics). It coped, just about, but it did occur to me that, as he was paying £12 to download the game from Steam, wouldn't it be handy if Steam also provided a nicely spec'd VM with the game already installed, running and optimised, and just provided him with a remote session into the VM?
Now THAT would be a cloud computing service worth the name.
Re: lost in translation
Thankfully, in the part of the world I live, I would be utterly astonished if the phone had NOT found it's way back into my hands. There has to be an upside to living in the arse-end of nowhere.
lost in translation
I lost my smartphone whilst out running in the hills behind our house last Thursday night. Some bloke found it, went through the call log, called my sister and got it back to me. I can't help feel that would have been rather less likely with a transparent phone. In fact, I'm struggling to think of a single reason why it would be a good thing.
Re: How about £44.50
£94 for a 7" IPS 1280X800 Display, 1GB RAM, 16GB Storage, HDMI, USB, MicroSD, Dual Core CPU and Quad Core Graphics in an Alu Case. I've done a fair bit or searching and it seems to be the best around at the moment but things change pretty quickly in the tablet market at the moment.
And I have no connection to the above. Just been searching for a Christmas present!
Re: sub $100 tablets
Not sure on your "Most of the ones I've seen" there Charles. There are many, many tens of these things out there and it is pretty rare to see Gingerbread on them these days. You are really only looking at a £50 Resistive-screen model. The vast majority are running ICS (4.0.4) at around £60-80 and come with 1.2GHz Single core CPUs and a single Mali 400 GPU with 512MB of RAM. Spend £80-100 and you can easily get Jelly Bean, Dual core CPU, quad-core GPU, 1GB of RAM and a high-res IPS display (1280x800) and some even have aluminium, rather than plastic, cases.
I'm not saying the feel, build quality or UX will be up there with a Nexus 7 but for around £90 you certainly can get a stonkingly good tablet WITH USB Host, HDMI and a MicroSD Slot. There seems to be a lot of crap being spread about the cheapo chinese tablets at the moment. Sure, 18 months ago they were churning out barely functional toys but they have seriously upped their game and it doesn't take much shopping around to save yourself a lot of money compared to a Nexus or Kindle HD.
I'm with you on Penetrator. I remember my parents playing The Hobbit but it really didn't do anything for me. For it's time, Penetrator felt fast and furious and being able to design your own levels felt revolutionary. I was just getting into programming through the school computer club and code listings in magazines. But the graphics on games you wrote yourself were always crappy (even for a 8 bit home computers) so being able to design levels with the engine used in Penetrator felt amazing.
> do you prefer longer, in-depth reviews - or are focused, waffle-free appraisals what you're after?
It depends on the product but I'm usually in favour of longer, in depth reviews. I agree with the others though. The "10 best Androids under a fiver" style comparisons are excellent. I've used those reviews many times since they started a couple of years ago - and I pass them on to to others when getting the all to common "you work in IT. Which X should I buy" requests.
> Are you looking for science paper-style evaluations - or do you favour short, consumer-oriented 'should I buy this?'
Somewhere in between. There are plenty of sites that do full in-depth technical analysis and plenty that repeat the press release. I think 3-5 pages, depending on how complex the product, is plenty - with an extra page or two for camera reviews to allow for sample shots.
> Are benchmarks important to you
I think a few simple benchmarks can tell you a lot. A fairly standardised battery test for mobiles and laptops (we ran such and such for 2 hours with these settings and it reported x% left). I actually think the benchmarks and spec tables are excellent. The only negative is that sometimes they are omitted. Obviously this will be down to how long you got the device for etc etc but it is annoying if only 9 out of 10 laptop reviews have benchmarks - particularly if the missing one is the one I was interested in!
> Is a percentage rating a useful quick-look measure of a product's worth?
Yes. "Most" of us are adult enough to realise they are subjective and coloured by the reviewers opinions but, if I'm in a hurry and not sure if I have time to read a 5-page review, it is useful to know beforehand if it gets 50% or 90%.
> Do spec sheets or tables help?
Yes. It saves covering every single spec within the text of the review leaving the reviewer to cover only the important USPs.
> Do you like to see lots of product picture
Not lots, but photos of ports etc are helpful - particularly if something has a port cover or plug. Those things can be a real PITA if done badly so a decent close-up is always welcome. Also, something to show a product to scale. It is all very well stating how small, slim, huge, fat a product is but we need to see it in relation to a common, every day object.
> Games reviews - good or bad, more or fewer?
Not fussed personally but I'm sure you guys know how many clicks they get.
Overall though, I love the reg reviews, use them a lot and would just appreciate a little more consistency.
Re: Shameless Amazon advert?
"Also - on what planet is it worth paying 50 of any currency to be allowed to borrow one book per month?"
It isn't and he doesn't suggest it is. But, if you are already an Amazon Prime subscriber then, effectively, you are getting twelve free ebooks a year - which is certainly worth considering if you are trying to decide between a Kobo and a Kindle.
As an existing Amazon Prime subscriber looking at a new 7" tablet it NEARLY tipped the balance towards the Kindle HD - until I read the reviews on that device.
If they aren't available until mid-November then how do you know they will be the first? There is still a couple of weeks for someone to beat them to it by, you know, maybe announcing something that is actually available to buy!
Re: Hey up, what's the state of play with these cheap tablets?
I got a cheapo resistive android tablet July 2011 - but that was fairly crap. Really only usable as an ebook reader, email, RSS, music and low-res video. Simple stuff. Web browsing was possible but slow and painful and games were a no-no.
In May this year I got a new cheapo chinese one. It has a 1.2GHz CPU plus a 400MHz Mali GPU, 512MB RAM and 16GB of storage. Then it was £90 - I've seen them lately for £65-70. It runs Android 4.0.4 and most of the time it flies along. Web browsing is a joy, it makes a brilliant kindle, good for games, I've watched countless videos on it both on the screen and using the HDMI port to output to a big telly. Overall, it is WELL worth the money and makes some of the £400-500 tablets look daft. I use it every day and the kids also love it.
HOWEVER, there are (of course) a couple of limitations. Some stuff in the Android Marketplace isn't compatible with it. I'm not 100% sure why. But If I search for some apps (Amazon App as an example) it will tell me I can install it on my 2-year-old Android phone but not the tablet - might be the lack of GPS. Who knows.
Very occasionally, it goes slow for a couple of minutes. Usually it pops back again but sometimes it requires a reboot. I suspect it is doing some house keeping in the background.
If I were buying now, I'd get the Ainol Fire (about £110 on Amazon) with a dual-core CPU, more RAM, better display and metal body. But the cheap tablets ARE very good and have the advantage of HDMI, MicroSD and USB ports so carrying around a bunch of music and films becomes incredibly easy.
Re: Only on a hardware reader
That is a pretty crap restriction. I read books through various kindle apps on my PCs, phone and tablet. But I don't own a kindle so, despite having been a prime subscriber for many years, I'm excluded from this. Along with the free films that they get in the US and the ability to lend books to other kindle users (also US) Amazon seem to be going out of their way to annoy large segments of their users.
Re: "mine hasn't"
Yep, I'm with you on that one Stacy. I've had a Henry hoover for years. Nothing goes wrong with them. The parts, if required, are stupidly cheap and it only cost £80. But the main reason I use it is because it is so light. Dyson's just weigh half a ton. And because they are uprights, rather than cylinders, you have to move this half-ton mass back and forth all the time. I also hate the mess of emptying them. And others must agree as, whenever I see one, the cylinder is invariably full! Give me a decent bag-vac any time.
They are hugely popular so I must be missing something but having used them a lot (in two businesses) I found them overly pricey, overly heavy, a pain in the backside to empty and they don't clean any better than any other decent brand cleaner.
And as for "no loss of suction, ever" - give me a break. I'd love to know where the energy to keep that huge mass of dirt flying around the cylinder at high speed is coming from?
Their hand-driers on the other hand - awesome!
Re: insert in cow
I can all too easily imagine how it got there - hugely overworked vet dealing with umpteenth calving of a late night forgets to swap his phone to his other hand before reaching in to check the calf is in the correct position. It is how he realised where it was that interests me;
VET: Damn, I seem to have misplaced my mobile. Can someone just ring it for me please?
Re: rant on!
Hi Mike, I'm no Apple apologist (don't own a single product) but their support IS (usually) excellent. They will normally exchange superseded products bought in the run up to a new launch. The window is usually 3-4 weeks so it is WELL worth contacting them, explaining how upset you are, and seeing if they'll swap it for the new model.
I don't quite get all the analysts hand-wringing "is this the beginning of the end" etc. There seems to be an assumption that, because Apple has followed into a market, instead of leading, they are suddenly doing something different. Apple have done this in the past and they did it for one reason - to make some more money. For all the "experts" talking about marketing etc Apple make money. The iPod was a premium product and completely defined the high end of the market. But, when other manufacturers released cheaper, smaller, flash-based products Apple followed suit. It didn't treat the iPod nano or iClippy-whatever it is called too seriously. It didn't make a song and dance. Sure, they devoted the usual attention to detail and made them lovely to look at (and more expensive than their rivals) but there was never any all encompassing market-domination strategy behind them. They were devices designed to sell a couple of 10s of million and sell a bunch of songs/videos through iTunes.
The iPad Mini looks like exactly the same thing. It is a shrunk down iPad 2. It isn't revolutionary. it isn't clever. It has nothing to make it stand out from the crowd. It isn't set to create or dominate a new market segment. But it will almost certainly sell a couple of 10s of million each year, it's a way for Apple to get rid of last years Big iPad components and it will generate a shed load of sales through iTunes. And at £300-odd quid a pop that is still a few extra billion in revenue. Why can't it just be about generating cash?
Re: Calibre is your friend
I had a similar (though not as bad) experience with Amazon just a couple of weeks ago. I am an Amazon Prime Subscriber (£49 gets free delivery for the year for our family, my Sister's, my brother's and my parents). My wife and I moved house, 2.5 miles (sorry, 4.02KM) down the SAME road. I went to Amazon to change my default address and all seemed fine. Until I went to place and order and was informed my address was not suitable for Amazon Prime Delivery. I quickly contacted Amazon via IM and, after 2 hours of trying to explain the problem, the response was "We don't know what the problem is. It is an automated system so we won't look into it. Is there anything else we can help you with?".
In the end, I solved the problem myself by changing the address so that the postcode was still my old postcode but the rest of the address was our new place. The postman is a friend of the family so everything has been fine so far - no thanks to Amazon.
Re: Last.fm Scrobbling
This information is actually very useful - to you. Last.fm use the list of music you listen to on a daily basis to make (very good) recommendations as to new music you might like. I have lost count of the wonderful new bands and CDs I have discovered through Last.fm recommendations.
If you don't want to hand over such information, that's fine. It is an option and the default is to leave it off. But, certainly in this instance, there actually IS a very good reason to turn it on. If you're the sort of person that actually enjoys new music, new directions and despairs of the generic shit forced down the public's throats by most commercial radio stations then it is an excellent system.
Re: Nexus7 comparible with the Kindle FireHD? Gime me a break...
It isn't QUITE that straight forwardly one-sided. The Kindle, to its advantage, has HDMI output and much better speakers than the NEXUS making it a much better all-round media device. It also has dual-band WiFi which would be important to some.
However, the lack of card slot is currently stopping me from hitting the BUY button on either of these. Plus, I can't help feeling that both devices are currently a bit crippled in the UK. Google doesn't make most of its PLAY content available to us and Amazon offers a much better deal to US Prime subscribers.
The Ainol looks to be a similarly specced device, with HDMI, card slot and vanilla Android for £40 less than the Nexus and Kindle. But can I bring myself to buy a device called the ainol?
I had one of these - indeed, it was my first phone. I'm not one for talking so didn't see the point in a mobile but had used PSIONs and other organisers for years. As soon as I heard they were making a device that (sot of) combined the two I was hooked. And I BELIEVE I'm correct in saying this was the first device to be marketed under the term "smartphone".
However, it was only a smartphone in the way the first iPhone was. You couldn't actually install native software on it. But the PDA stuff was well implemented and the Box came with a full copy of Lotus Notes for synching your data! It also came with a combined dock/charging cradle and a leather carry case with a belt clip!
However, its absolutely best feature was that the physical keypad wasn't electronic. Each button had a little nipple underneath it. When you pressed the button, the nipple touched the screen underneath which triggered the required action. It was genius. It also meant you could remove the keypad completely (the box had a little tool for doing this) and just use the virtual key-pad on the touchscreen - which I did for about five minutes before switching back.
It is the only game I have ever got to the end of and then played straight through again. Although 14 years ago now, I still recall being scared shitless as I crept down a corridor, with the lights flickering on and off, when the ceiling collapsed on top of me bringing aliens down all around, the lights went out and all I could see on the screen was barrel flare from the gunfire.
Nobody had EVER made a game like that before.
Re: interesting but...
"I don't recall ever seeing a non-smart Android phone. A) The software doesn't exist. B) Would you honestly want a non-smart phone with the battery life of a smartphone"
There is no reason why not. I've recently setup a couple of Android phones for elderly regulars in our pub. I stuck on a special launcher that just has six big buttons. Call - SMS - email - Contacts - Browser - Apps. Each of the first four launch specially adapted apps with large fonts and a keyboard than can be zoomed in and out. The browser launches the standard browser and the Apps takes you to a standard app drawer giving you access to everything.
The point is that there is already software to make Android work for the elderly/poor-of-sight. It would be a very simple matter to make a launcher that worked well for a candy-bar, with nice big icons and a number driven menu system. And with a smaller non-touch screen and more room for a battery the battery life would be greatly improved even with a tablet processor. In any case, power-profiles are also easily doable. Under-clock the CPU when in candy-bar mode, whack it back up when it gets docked into the toblerphone mode.
Big screen Mistake
I'm not sure why they've gone for a massive screen on the phone - other than the fact that everyone else is doing it. Isn't the point of having a combined phone and tablet that you slot the phone into the tablet for when you need a large screen (playing games, watching films etc) but still have the convenience of a small, discreet smartphone to carry about with you?
They seem to have missed the ENTIRE point of the device in order to tick one of their marketing departments current must have check-boxes. It is such a shame because, if you could stick this in a 3.5" screened device with a 480x800 display you'd need a smaller slot on the pad leaving room for a bigger battery.
"after asking 4300-odd North Americans"
Why did they only ask odd North Americans? Or was that the only variety they could find?
My wife and I recently took over the running of our local pub and, both having a keen interest in live music (I've performed in all sorts from Stage Musicals to Rock Bands over many years), we were keen to get regular bands and musicians in. Unfortunately an awful lot of people who market themselves as a "Live Act" actually turn up with a PA, a mic and an iPhone/iPad which they use to perform a glorified Karaoke session with. The iPhone and Simon Cowell seem to have a lot to answer for! I'm not sure whether people are being deliberately dishonest or just ignorant when they claim what they do is proper, live music.
On the plus side, there are also some REALLY talented kids out there that CAN play, sing and write their own stuff. It's just a pain in the arse trying to find the odd grain of wheat amongst a whole sea of chaff.
Re: You have to wonder...
"Or is it just me with my poor little dumb-phone that only allows me to do odd things like talk to people?"
Erm, yes. This is a Technology forum on a technology website.
What makes a smartphone?
Strange start to the article...
"Time was, smartphones did little that was actually smart. They had front-facing cameras and maybe a touchscreen, but operating systems geared more for a stylus than fingers. It wasn’t until the iPhone landed in 2007 that things changed."
Why does being able to use a finger, rather than a stylus, make a phone smart? You could argue that the first iPhone achieved many, many firsts, but being the first smartphone was not one of them. Indeed, I would argue it wasn't a smartphone at all (althought it was undoubtadly a very smart phone). And I'm still not sure the iPhone, or any of the other current crop of phones, can really do anything your average Windows Mobile device from 2003 couldn't do. It does it all better and faster but it is still a touchscreen phone with built-in data onto which you can install software.
Maybe my point (if I made one) is kind of irrelevant but it just seemed strange to claim that being able to use a finger, rather than a stylus, was the thing that made smartphones smart - rather than, say, making them easier, more convenient, making the screen brighter and more readable etc. etc. etc.
And yes, I still miss my old stylus. I have a capacitive one but it just isn't the same and it doesn't slot conveniently into the back of my phone like in days of yore.
Pakuma Akara K1
I liked the sound of the K1 but clicking through to Amazon the reviews are abysmal. Most reviews seem to agree that it looks great, is practical, comfortable and will fall apart inside three months.
Might have to be the Swissgear for me then. Thanks Reg.
Keep in mind there is no SD and no HDMI on the Nexus. That might not bother you but it is worth considering. I'm leaning more towards a Kindle HD. Again, no SD but it has the USB port and HDMI and the 32GB is only £200 so I think I could cope. I just haven't seen what Amazon have done to Android yet!
"What video formats can these things handle? Pretty much everything? What are the decent open source media players for Android?"
Yep, anything you wish. I use MX Player which has handled anything I have thrown at it. VLC is available too (I think it is still in beta) and my cheapo chinese tablet came with something called "Gallery 2180p" which has also handled every video format including a streaming video feed from TVCatchup designed for the iPad which I THINK appears as an iTunes video playlist.
I don't give format or bit rate a moment's thought any more. As long as you choose an Android tablet with MicroSD or USB support (preferably both) then storage space isn't an issue either. I picked up a 32GB card for just over a tenner a few weeks ago and there is usually a 16GB memory stick with a few films on it floating around in the bottom of my bag somewhere.
I thouht most of this was pointless "solution searching for a problem" stuff but I do REALLY like the idea of your wireless keyboard and mouse charging themselves wirelessly from your AIO PC overnight. It doesn't happen very often (maybe every six months or so) but you can guarantee that when the batteries DO run out on your mouse and keyboard it will be at the least convenient time imaginable and, despite having had dozens of batteries lying around for months, you'll be damned if you can find any when you really need it.
Re: Good typing and mousing experiences
Not built in but the M009s (from Amazon, via Wendy Lou, for about £50) has a port adaptor that provides three full-sized USB ports and an ethernet port and I have had keyboard and mouse working on that. However, it is also a resistive screen and is very slow. Mine gets used just as a Kindle now, having been usurped by a 1.2GHz/Capacitive jobby.
"Since the original (well reborn) Razr only just got the ICS update OTA in the UK last week, I recommend you don't hold your breath on that one..."
I would agree with you 100% on past record BUT they are (in the US, at least) including a promise of $100 cash back if they fail to deliver Jelly Bean by a certain date. I'm not a Motorola fan but that sounds like a bloody good way of acknowledging past errors and buying back confidence.
Re: Crapping Hell!!!
I know it LOOKS like self-indulgent nonsense (and, frankly, what's wrong with that?) but keep in mind that today's high-end is tomorrow's main stream. Okay, I'm not saying any of this particular kit will ever become even remotely affordable but there are a few new technologies in there that I wasn't aware of but sound like the sort of thing many of us will be using in a few years.
Lets face it, hollywood is trying to convince us "The Cloud" (via UV) is the place where all our films will be stored - because they can control it. However, the tech companies are telling us 4K is the new black. But the two don't work together unless you have a whopping great fibre connection and a VERY low contention ratio. That media server, where the presence of a physical disc is used as your DRM license to allow access to a digital copy, seems like a brilliant solution to me.
Hollywood are happy as you are still buying media from them. Sony et al are happy because a server is capable of pumping out bits at a rate that will feed their new 4K systems so that everyone can go and buy a new telly - again.
I was a huge fan of the film as a kid but remember being massively disappointed by the game (ZX Speccy 48k). It was hugely repetitive and not much fun. I probably only played it a handful of times before returning to Penetrator or Green Beret.
Re: Android 2.3?
" I came across an ATM that was stuck and was showing the desktop of the OS it is running"
"specialised devices can -and do- make use of an obsolete/old OS without any issues."
Ermmm, you kind of trampled all over your point with a poorly selected example there fella!
Re: Spend a little more.
And I would agree with you 100% if it weren't for the lack of MicroSD card suppport in the U. That just kills it for me. How can you really use it as a smartphone with only around 6GB? Most of the uses that define a smartphone require large amounts of storage.
Re: SanFrancisco is pretty good
"would have been a lot better if it wasn't stuffed with Orange crudwar.... none of which is removable"
Unlock it, stick ROM Manager on and then flash a new ROM. Takes all of 20 minutes and completely transforms the phone. There are LOADS of step-by-step guides including YouTube videos to hold your hand through the process. It really is as simple as installing a couple of bits of software and then following the on-screen instructions.
Re: Went on holiday
"Went on holiday...left my electronic junk at home... it is after all a holiday!"
Lucky you! I, however, don't consider it much of a "holiday" if my kids are fighting and arguing in the back of the car so a tablet with a few of their films on plus some drawing games is a bloody good way to ensure Mum and Dad get a bit of a holiday too!
Re: "Goldeneye was pretty much the foundation for first person shooters"
"Foundation" doesn't mean "first". And, in any case, Doom was certainly NOT the first FPS either. Although I do agree it is stretching things to say Goldeneye was THE foundation. One of several, particularly for the multiplayer components, but certainly not THE.
Re: What about...
Another +1 for MXPlayer. During the Olympics I would tell the default web browser to pretend to be an iPad, then go to TVCatchup and use their HTML5 video streaming. MXPlayer handled it perfectly (I believe it pretended to be an iTunes playlist).
And for me, another would be the Opera Web Browser. The new Chrome is okay but still crashes quite a bit for me and is lacking options. Opera (with Turbo cache switched on) is lightening fast and just seems to handle eveything without getting in the way
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