Categories
Hack

Using Gmail’s 2- Factor Authentication In Nigeria

Wikipedia defines Two-step verification (also known as Two-factor authentication, abbreviated to TFA) as a process involving two stages to verify the identity of an entity trying to access services in a computer or in a network.

For Gmail, what this means is that even if your password is compromised, no one can have access to your mails unless they also 2f1have access to your mobile line. Unless you add your laptop as a trusted device, everytime you log into your email account over the web, you will be required to also input a one-time code before gaining access to your mails.

Nice, isn’t it.

For Nigerians, the bad part. Curiously, Gmail does not support Nigerian mobile lines at all.

Fortunately, there is a way around this. Simply put, all you need do is get a valid US number that you can receive SMS on.

And How do you get this?

Heywire is the maker of a free consumer text messaging app available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone, with millions of users. It is also available on your PC using your browser. They give you a real US mobile number for free with which you can text or receive SMS from any mobile messaging service. The person you are texting or receiving SMS from DOES NOT need to have a HeyWire account, you can text them directly to their normal phone.

  • The app allows you to send free texts messages to mobile phones in 45 countries over WiFi or 3G – Excluding Nigeria of course.
  • However, you can receive text messages from any mobile line or bulk messaging services.
  • Text FREE from the Web: Go to app.heywire.com, login with your HeyWire number
  • 1 HeyWire account across all your devices — iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad & Computer
  • Text using Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, or LTE.

With this app, you can configure the 2-Step Verification for your Gmail account using your Heywire US number to receive your code.

2f2

Categories
Articles

4G Speeds In Nigeria – The Hype vs The Reality

GLO-LOGOOut of curiosity, I enabled the 4G radio on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone for the first time since i got it and was taken aback when i noticed the 4G icon. Expecting it to be a ruse, i decided to give my download speed a test and was pleasantly surprised at what i saw. Download speeds hovered mostly around the 2mbps mark with burst speed breasting the 4mbps mark. Wow! 30 minutes later, i got an even bigger surprise – nothing pleasant here –  i discovered that over 200mb from the 260mb data available on my phone had been zapped!. A data allocation that usually last for a month got used up in 30 minutes?! What?! Within the short period, i had downloaded a 74MB file from Youtube, did multiple speed tests, downloaded softwares and files, enjoying the newly discovered download speeds but forgetting that my data allocation was not unlimited. A text message from Globacom brought me to reality: “Dear Glo subscriber, 47.0Mb of the volume allocated to you is still remaining. Rule your world!”. What?!

This indeed was a new experience for me. I am not a light data user, not by a long shot, but the usual slow 2G and 2.75G speeds (Edge) that has more widespread coverage in Nigeria is, at best, epileptic and unreliably. You can use a 100MB data allocation for months, not because you do not want to use it but because you do not get to use it. Most times, i do not even get to use my data allocation at all, usually relying on WIFI, using the mobile data allocation only while i am on the road.

I enjoyed the 4G experience i had at my workplace, it was very new to me. The last time i experienced speeds like that was in the UK. However, the funny thing is that my home, barely 15 minutes away, could not boast of a reliable 2G connection. That is the fad in Nigeria. The networks  introduce cutting edge technology and make it available only in a sprinkle of locations and spend more money creating a hype out of it, boasting about been the first to do this or that. Recently, Airtel – another Nigerian mobile network, claimed to have completed its 4G trials in Lagos.

I honestly look forward to the day when 4G speeds would be common place in Nigeria. I only hope Jesus wouldn’t come before then. Sigh.

Categories
Gadgets

Airtel Nigeria completes LTE trial In Lagos?

airtelNews coming in suggests that Airtel Nigeria has successfully completed LTE trials in Lagos. Long Term Evolution (LTE), widely accepted as the true 4G, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.

Download speed, under ideal conditions was 37 Megabits per Second (Mbps), while under non ideal conditions, was 32 Mbps; Upload speed was – 10.6 Mbps.

Many in Nigeria take such news from our mobile networks with a pinch of salt. I have always had a problem with Nigerian mobile networks and their quest to be seen as pioneers of latest telecommunication technologies in the country. Most times, it comes at a big cost to subscribers. The funny thing is, these networks can not even boast of successfully deploying 3G services to all parts of the country. Worst still, locations that boasts of 3G services have very epileptic services at best.

At the moment, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), the regulatory body for the telecommunication sector in Nigeria decided to place a ban on all promos and lotteries in the Telecoms industry in a bid to improve the quality of the offerings from these networks by curtailing their excessive drive to increase their customer base. However, the ban appears to have created little impact, as service quality remain poor across networks, five weeks after the ban.

As it is, we can only watch and pray for improved services because as with most things in Nigeria, the customers have very little say.

Categories
Articles

Still On Cobranet

I wrote about this company last year, paying glowing tributes to the quality of their service offerings, though I must admit that i had strong reservations about the company sustaining the quality of their service.

Well, 6 months later, the story has not changed. In truth, i can say that they have even improved on their services. Just last month, the company decided to up its plans, giving their customers even more value for their money.

For their VOLUME PLANS

Home Bronze              1.5Mbps             N6,500             7GB

Home Silver                2.5Mbps             N12,500           13GB

Home Gold                  3Mbps                N17,500           18GB

Customers also enjoy free browsing between 12am and 6am everyday. The download junkies would love this.

They boast of their services being powered on advanced 4G speeds, i really can not confirm this. However, what i can confirm is that they have the fastest speeds for any Nigerian ISP I have used.

Again, i pray they keep this up. Time will tell.

Categories
Articles

Cobranet – Nigeria’s Fastest Internet Speed?

Name it, chances are that I have used it before. From the early days of internet access in Nigeria in the late 1990s when ISPs like hyperia and linkserve held sway with their dial up internet, to more recent times with ISPs like IPNX, Zoom, Onet and the GSM networks like MTN, Glo, Etisalat calling the shots. I have used them all!

Like many Nigerians, I keep hopping from one ISP to the other, searching for the elusive, or is it proverbial, “3G” or even “4G” speeds being hyped by these companies.

Recently, I was taking a walk through SPAR ‘Park and Shop’ Mall in Lekki, Lagos Island when I came across a stand showcasing yet another Nigerian ISP’s products, a company called COBRANET. Out of interest, more in the Sales Lady than anything else, I approached the stand. Though I had known Cobranet for years, I have never subscribed to their services. Probably because I did not expect their services to be any better than the norm. I got talking with the lady and was pleasantly surprised when the sales lady mentioned that apart from the fact that the company has signal coverage over most parts of Lagos Mainland, their signals also cover most parts of Lagos Island, stretching along the length of the Lekki-Epe expressway, reaching as far as a suburb called Awoyaya. A feat for a non-GSM based ISP.

After testing out the demo they had on offer in the store and admittedly, still with a little skepticism, I subscribed to their Home Bronze Plan which set my wallet back by N13,000.00 (about $US 80), an amount that would have gone a long way in actualizing my plan of buying a BMX bike for my son for Christmas. Of this amount, half of it was the modem cost while the other half got me a 3.5GB data limit and 800kbps download speed Home Bronze Plan. The data limit seemed very small and, well, very limiting, but the sales lady quickly chipped in that downloads from 12am-6am eeryday do not count towards this data limit.

To better understand the tag line 800Kbps (Kilo Bits per Second), it simply means that you are expected to download files from the internet at a rate of 800kbps divided by 8 which equals 100 KBps (Kilo Bytes Per Seconds). Take note of the difference between Bits & Bytes. Meaning that on a good day, barring unseen interferences, you are expected to download, say, a 1Gigabyte file in less than 3 hours. i have gotten speeds higher that 100KBps on Cobranet Home Bronze Plan but on the average, you are guaranteed speeds of at least 70KBps. By Nigerian standards, this is fast. In fact, the last time i experienced speeds like this was in the United Kingdom.

To still appreciate my mumbo jumbo yarns better, i decided to compare this speed to the GSM internet speeds posted on MTN Nigeria website which gave the average browsing speed of their 3.5G (HSDPA) “high speed Internet” as 800Kbps (100KBps), same as Cobranet’s least browsing speed plan, the Home Bronze Plan. However, i could not help but wonder where MTN picked that figure from. Probably that speed is attainable ONLY in their CEO’s lodgings! God help you if you can get a fraction of that speed, even at their best signal locations.

Cobranet is very fast, and in reality, i can download a 1GB file in under 4 hours. Try that on any other network, a non starter on most. I do wholly recommend Cobranet’s Internet service to anyone, as of today. Yes today only, as i do not give any guarantee that their services would not tow the snail speed line by tomorrow!

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Categories
Gadgets

Which Gadget Specs Really Matter?

Everyone’s needs and budget are different. And new gadgets always come along and render yesterday’s hottest tech obsolete—and much more affordable.

In every category, however, you’ll find over-marketed specs that really shouldn’t mean much to most people. And a few specs don’t get nearly enough attention.

Laptops, Desktops, and Storage

Before you plop down your cash, consider our advice. Here are the specs we think you can safely ignore, the specs you should consider in certain contexts, and the specs you should seek out. As long as you’re buying a modern processor, you’ll probably discover that the amount of RAM or storage space you select will have a bigger impact on your desktop or laptop’s performance than minor differences in clock speed will.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Slight differences in CPU or RAM speed: Yes, a 2.6GHz processor will be faster than a 1.2GHz CPU, but you shouldn’t pay more for small increases. You won’t notice the difference between a 2.3GHz Core i5 and a 2.5GHz Core i5, for instance, so don’t pay $100 for an unnoticeable uptick. Likewise, the noticeable difference between 1066MHz and 1333MHz RAM is practically none.

DVD/Blu-ray write speeds: Even if you are one of the few folks left tinkering with physical media, you’d be hard-pressed to find a drive that offered much of a leg up in burning speed. If you’re burning a disc, you’ll be waiting a bit whether it’s a 6X drive or a 10X drive. And all drives play movies just fine.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Graphics RAM: For watching high-def YouTube clips and Blu-ray discs, most people have no need to go from 1GB to 2GB of RAM on a midrange graphics card. The card that ships with your PC will more than likely be enough. Gamers are the exception, as a beefy card with 1GB of RAM will outpace a 256MB or 512MB rival, while the 2GB realm is reserved for $700-and-up, enthusiast cards. A faster graphics chip with less RAM will almost always do better than a slower chip with more RAM.

Quad-core processors: In the laptop world, a dual-core processor is likely to be faster than a quad-core CPU for mainstream applications. A dual-core CPU often runs at a higher clock speed, and most general-purpose programs don’t make good use of four CPU cores. But if you do a lot of video processing, scientific computation, or engineering work, four cores may be the way to go. Multithreaded applications are becoming the norm, and your PC will be able to hammer away at more tasks if it has a bit of headroom. Truth be told, aside from truly low-end models, it’s difficult to find a desktop PC that doesn’t come equipped with a quad-core CPU.

Laptop display brightness: A bright screen usually drains the battery quickly. Besides, 300 nits is so bright that it’s hard to look at indoors, and most users turn the brightness down a bit anyway. If you work outside often, though, you’ll want all the brightness you can get.

Specs That Always Matter

Amount of RAM: Whatever the computer, you’re better off with more RAM. Don’t settle for less than 4GB—buying 6GB or 8GB of RAM isn’t a bad idea, either.

A roomy, 7200-rpm hard drive: The revolutions-per-minute figure refers to how fast a drive platter spins. A 7200-rpm hard drive will often be more responsive than a 5400-rpm hard drive will. As for storage space, what’s the use of a souped-up rig if you can’t fit anything in it? Fortunately, storage is becoming increasingly inexpensive, and gargantuan 3TB drives are appearing.

Laptop weight: Small differences in weight make a big difference when you’re lugging your laptop around. The difference between 3.5 pounds and 5 pounds may not seem like much at first, but when your laptop bag is on your shoulder all day, it’s enormous.

Laptop battery life: Obviously, the more battery life a laptop has, the better. When you’re assessing this spec, though, take any claim the manufacturer makes and then chop off 20 percent. Vendors’ claimed battery life always assumes a best-case scenario—a scenario that you will never see in real life.

Storage interfaces: If you want to add storage to your system, make sure to buy a drive that is compatible with your machine. Obviously, a SATA 6Gb/s connector won’t help if you don’t have SATA 6Gb/s on your computer. When shopping for an external drive, look for the fastest connector that your system can support. For PCs, that includes eSATA and USB 3.0—but only the latter can work without a power adapter.

In the laptop world, a dual-core processor is likely to be faster than a quad-core CPu for most mainstream applications.

Phones

Considering a new phone? It’s easy to get pulled into the specs war. Single-core chip or dual-core processor? 3G or 4G? Today’s smartphones, however, place the greatest emphasis on big screens, so it makes more sense to pay particular attention to how everything will look on a phone’s display.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Noise-reduction technology: A few new phones boast “noise-reduction technology,” which supposedly blocks out the background clatter when you’re calling on a busy street. In our hands-on tests with such phones, however, we’ve noticed that this technology can make your voice sound strange to the parties on the other end of the line, and that it sometimes adds a weird muffling effect to your contacts’ voices.

HDMI port: Unless you plan to store a library of high-definition movies on your phone, and unless you have an HDMI cable with the proper connection for the phone (you’ll have to buy that separately) as well as an HDTV, pay no attention to whether a phone has an HDMI port. It’s a nice extra for movie junkies who want to have a lot of full-length flicks on their handset, but we’re not sure that description fits many people.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

4G: If you don’t have 4G coverage in your area (or even close to your region), don’t buy a 4G phone yet. If you have the coverage, 4G is fantastic for streaming music and movies on your phone, surfing the Web, and downloading apps quickly. Be careful, though: 4G will drain your phone’s battery long before you finish streaming a typical feature film.

Camera megapixel count: When it comes to image quality, megapixels are largely meaningless. If you’ll mostly be viewing your snapshots directly on your phone, sharing them through email and MMS, uploading them to Facebook, and overlaying effects such as the ones you’ll find in apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram, a 12-megapixel camera is overkill in both resolution and file size. That said, you should choose a phone with at least a 3-megapixel camera, just to have a little more flexibility with the photos you take.

Processor speed: Dual-core processors are getting a lot of buzz, but such power is unnecessary for the average user. Unless you’re doing a lot of app multitasking or playing games with 3D graphics, you’ll probably be fine with a 1GHz processor. Aside from the chip speed, other factors—such as the software your phone runs (Android 2.3 is faster than Android 2.2, for instance) and network speeds—contribute to fast, fluid phone performance.

Specs That Always Matter

Display size/resolution: If you intend to surf the Web, use the calendar and organizer, or compose and read email and text messages, make sure the phone’s screen is up to snuff. For Web browsing or document editing, a screen that measures less than 2.7 inches diagonally will feel cramped. Consider the resolution, too: The higher it is, the sharper videos and photos will look. Being able to control the contrast and backlight settings can also be important, as phones have noticeable differences in their default display settings. If your phone allows you to adjust contrast and brightness, text and graphics can be easily viewable in well-lit places, and you can save battery life in a pinch.


Tablets

Since tablets are still fairly new, it’s easy for manufacturers to rattle off a litany of specs. The ones that matter most, however, are those that determine how quickly a tablet will respond to your input, and how well images and text will appear on the slate’s screen.

Specs That Don’t Matter

This Space Intentionally Left Blank”: At the moment, there’s very little you shouldn’t be considering when buying a tablet. Fortunately, manufacturers have refrained from filling their tablet specs lists with confusing jargon. Here’s hoping the situation stays that way.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Ports: With tablets, integrated ports are a double-edged sword. If the connections are built in, you don’t need a dongle to add HDMI, an SD Card, or a USB device. Ports add weight and thickness to the tablet, though. For many people, the port-free Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 are capable, attractive choices; and if you want to add some of the aforementioned ports to one or the other, you can easily do so via extra-cost dongles. However, if you plan to use a tablet for productivity tasks (not just for media consumption), find one that has the ports you’ll want on board.

Specs That Always Matter

Screen resolution: The higher the resolution, the sharper the display—that’s a rule of thumb you can count on. While many tablets have crisp 1280-by-800-pixel displays, some—such as the Apple iPad 2 (1024 by 768) and the abysmally low-resolution Dell Streak 7 (800 by 480)—fall shy of that figure. Because the display is such an integral and unchangeable part of a tablet, try not to skimp on the screen resolution.

Processor speed: Most bargain-bin tablets cut corners on the processor, and carry a sub-1GHz CPU. Single-core models, especially those with clock speeds less than 1GHz, are slow. Stick with a dual-core CPU, or a single-core chip that’s at least faster than 1GHz.

Cameras

Many people still believe that more megapixels means a better camera. But it’s more important to look for features that won’t hold you back, such as quick startup and easy-to-use controls.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Digital zoom: Although the technology is getting better, digital zoom still crops a photo in the center and enlarges that cropped area, reducing the resolution of the final image. You can accomplish the same thing through image-editing software, and if you need to enlarge part of a photo during playback, you can do that with the camera’s zoom controls without affecting the source image.

Digital image stabilization: Normally these systems either boost the ISO sensitivity to noise-inducing levels (allowing the camera to use a faster shutter speed) or crop and enlarge a video image in the center of the frame, using the rest of the scene as a buffer to make the center look somewhat steady. Cameras that combine optical/mechanical and digital stabilization are effective, but we’ve rarely been impressed with digital stabilization alone.

LCD screen size and resolution: On point-and-shoots, LCD viewfinders that measure 3 inches or more diagonally are now the norm. Big screens drain the battery faster, however, and a sharp, high-resolution LCD can make image quality appear better than it actually is.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Megapixels: You shouldn’t ignore megapixels entirely, but they matter much more for DSLRs. A megapixel count indicates how large you can view, resize, or print an image without a noticeable decrease in resolution. Factor in a megapixel count if you want to make large prints or to crop and enlarge portions of an image. In point-and-shoots and camera phones, a high megapixel count often leads to noisier photos and a larger file size, which eats up storage and affects your ability to share images electronically without first reducing them.

High-definition video recording: The figures “720” and “1080” simply refer to the number of horizontal lines the video will scale to on an HDTV. The quality depends on a lot of factors: the recording bitrate, the quality of the lens and sensor, the frame rate of the video capture, and other variables. Video performance is hard to gauge; we’ve seen great (and not-so-great) HD video shot with both pocket cameras and DSLRs.

ISO: Most point-and-shoots now have astonishingly high ISO sensitivity—up to ISO 6400 or even ISO 12800—but their small sensors add noise starting at around ISO 400. A DSLR handles the upper reaches of the ISO range much better. If low-light shots and fast action are important to you, a DSLR with high-ISO settings is a good fit. But if you’re looking at point-and-shoots, consider one with a low-light mode that does something more than jack up the ISO.

Specs That Always Matter

Physical buttons for manual controls: If you want to get serious about photography, don’t buy a DSLR right away. Save money and learn the ropes by buying a compact camera with manual controls for aperture, shutter, and focus. Using buttons and dials on a small camera first makes using a DSLR’s controls more intuitive. Touchscreen manual controls aren’t ready for prime time yet, anyway.

Fast startup time and burst mode: Shutter lag isn’t much of a problem now, but newer cameras can still make you miss a shot. Look for a camera that turns on and allows you to shoot within about a second and a half. You may need to disable the power-on “splash screen” (if the camera lets you do that). A “burst mode” or “continuous shooting” speed is also worth noting: Even if you’re not into sports, the ability to fire the shutter continuously can help you capture a hyperactive pet, a fidgety baby, or another fast subject. Look for a burst mode of 3 frames per second or greater.

HDTVs

TV makers love impressive-sounding specs, but you should concentrate on selecting the right-size set for your home.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Contrast ratio: Supposedly this spec measures the difference between a TV’s darkest blacks and its brightest whites. But because manufacturers report contrast ratios without standardized testing guidelines, the numbers aren’t a reliable indicator of picture quality.

Response time: Theoretically useful for showing whether a TV has “smearing” or “blurring,” response time measures how long a pixel in an LCD takes to turn from one color to another. It is not always clear which measurement a TV maker reports; a black-to-white-to-black transition takes twice as long as gray-to-gray. Regardless, these days response times are generally adequate.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Refresh rate: The difference in image quality between a 60Hz LCD HDTV and a 120Hz LCD HDTV is tremendous; beyond 120Hz, though, refresh rate is not so important. We’ve seen 120Hz models beat 240Hz sets in our motion tests, because 240Hz frame-interpolation algorithms can create “judder” artifacts.

Specs That Always Matter

The smartest size: A big TV is nice. But if you don’t have a lot of space between your TV and your couch, you might end up moving your head around or viewing inferior video. And with a big set, you may see the individual lines in the image.

The difference in image quality between a 60Hz LCD HDTV and a 120Hz LCD HDTV is tremendous.

Printers

Look for a high cartridge page yield and automatic duplexing. A printer lacking both might cost too much over time.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Engine speed: Printer makers usually calculate and report engine speed using methods that do not reflect real-world usage. For instance, they may use the faster “draft” mode for their speed tests. A more realistic indicator is the ISO/IEC 24734 “Laser Quality Print Speed” standard, which prints in default mode and includes first-page-out time.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Monthly duty cycle: This number is an indication of how durable a printer is, so it’s an important metric for businesses. Even so, the actual volume of printing that you can expect to do is likely to be a small fraction—10 to 25 percent—of a printer’s reported duty-cycle number.

Print resolution: Specs labeled “optimized,” “interpolated,” or “up to” are manipulated resolutions. If you encounter a true 1200-by-1200-dpi printer (still a rarity), you will notice that it can make remarkably smooth, sharp text and images.

Scan resolution: Look for the “optical resolution” as the true measure; 300 dpi is usually sufficient. Going higher will result in slow scans, huge files, and images that aren’t necessarily sharper.

Specs That Always Matter

Automatic duplexing: A printer that can print on both sides of the page saves paper. Manual duplexing—usually with on-screen prompts to turn over the paper—is a hassle for most people.

Page yield: All cartridges have a spec that states how many pages they can print before they run dry. ISO/IEC standards have helped make most cartridges’ page yields directly comparable.

Starter-size cartridges: Some low-end laser and LED printers ship with “starter-size” toner cartridges that have lower page yields. They’ll run out faster than a standard cartridge will, forcing you to buy a replacement sooner.

PCWorld Magazine – October 2011

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

So You Want A Tablet?

Scan the headlines, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that everybody had a tablet these days. The iPad broke the market open, and since that point we’ve seen a torrent of rivals each trying to take the touchscreen crown. It’s a tricky segment to judge, and even harder if you’re trying to take your first steps into tableteering. Get up to speed with your options – and advice on which slate to select – after the cut!

 

iOS vs Android (or something else?)

The big battle right now is between iOS, on Apple’s iPad, and Android Honeycomb, on various tablets from Samsung, Motorola, ASUS and others. Apple’s iPad 2 follows the original iPad in leading the consumer tablet market, with a clear and user-friendly UI, competitive prices and that all-important fashion factor. There’s a huge number of iPad-specific apps – Apple suggested over 90,000 at WWDC 2011 – and with dominant market share that figure is only increasing.

Android Honeycomb is neither as instantly-accessible nor as widespread or mature as iOS but, as with Android phones, the range of manufacturers adopting the platform means it’s accelerating fast. Tablet-specific apps are less prevalent in the Android Market, though that’s something else we’d expect to change sooner rather than later.

“You can quite happily be an iPhone user and a Honeycomb tableteer”

Your decision may well be pushed by what software is running on your phone: if you’re already an iPhone user, then iOS on the iPad 2 will feel more familiar than Honeycomb, and vice versa, and you can also reuse apps you’ve already bought. Still, there’s not actually a huge amount of integration between the two platforms’ phone and tablet versions. You can quite happily be an iPhone user and a Honeycomb tableteer, in fact, and the most the two will ever need to play together is if you use WiFi hotspot sharing on your phone.

Some of the tablet outliers will be better integrated. HP’s TouchPad, which will go on sale on July 1, will offer clever tap-sharing functionality with webOS smartphones like the Pre3 and Veer. Decide you want a bit more space for the webpage you’re browsing on your Pre3, and by tapping the phone on the TouchPad it automatically opens up in the webOS slate’s browser. Similarly, contacts and other information can be swapped around.

The most extreme integration comes with the BlackBerry PlayBook. It runs QNX while RIM’s latest smartphones run BlackBerry 6, but certain core apps on the PlayBook – like email and calendar – don’t just take advantage of but depend entirely on their counterparts on a BlackBerry phone. An update later in the year will enable native apps, but until then there’s a significant penalty if you’re not a BlackBerry phone user but you buy a PlayBook.

Then there’s Windows 7. Microsoft’s OS may be the big player on the desktop, but when it comes to tablets it’s had trouble expanding beyond vertical markets and niche segments. Artists and doctors appreciate the precision and flexibility of an accurate digital stylus, but consumers seem to prefer to use their hands. Unfortunately, Windows 7?s UI falls well short of finger-friendliness, and a reliance on x86 hardware means that while Windows slates may well be fast, they also drain their batteries quickly too.

So which should I buy?

If you’re already heavily invested in an existing ecosystem – whether you have an iPhone full of iOS apps or a DROID packed with Android software – then it makes sense to pick up a tablet running the same platform. That way you can generally keep using what you’ve already paid for. Even if you’ve stuck with free apps only, there are still cases where an iOS title isn’t available on Android or vice-versa, so you may have to spend some time researching alternatives.

For beginners and those who want their tablet to “just work” there’s a lot to be said for the iPad 2. It’s easy to use, offers lashings of third-party software and the stability Apple has become renowned for. Most of our lingering complaints – the absence of wireless synchronization, the janky notifications and other frustrations – will generally be addressed in iOS 5, which will be released this fall.

Android is less mature, though there are still benefits for opting for Google’s platform over iOS. One is the range of hardware on offer: Motorola’s XOOM will soon come with 4G connectivity on Verizon’s LTE network in the US; Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 beats the iPad 2 when it comes to being thin and light; and ASUS’ Eee Pad Transformer can be paired with a clever battery-packing QWERTY keyboard for easier text-input and longer runtimes.

“If you’re looking for unusual features then Android is the platform most likely to deliver”

Alternatively there’s T-Mobile’s G-Slate (aka the LG Optimus Pad) which can shoot 3D high-def video, or the HTC Flyer which – although not yet running Honeycomb – has a clever digital pen for note-taking and sketching. If you’re looking for unusual features then Android looks to be the platform most likely to deliver, as OEMs jostle to find a unique sales angle. The SlashGear favorites are probably the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for general users and the Eee Pad Transformer for those wanting to create and edit documents while on the move.

RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook is interesting, but falls short of mainstream appeal. If you’re an existing BlackBerry user and your corporate IT department is wary about data security then the PlayBook’s reliance on your locked-down RIM phone could prove appealing, and the compact, dual-core 7-inch slate is certainly not short on power. Nonetheless, we’d be reluctant to pick one up until the Canadian company polishes the software experience.

The HP TouchPad could be the wildcard. We’ve long held that webOS is ideally suited – perhaps more than any recent mobile platform – to larger-screen devices like tablets, and what we’ve seen of the 9.7-inch TouchPad so far looks to bear that out. On the downside, there’s even less third-party software out there for the slate, and its clever tap technology depends on users also picking up a new webOS smartphone. We’ll have to wait until review units are available to know whether the TouchPad really is a legitimate iPad/Honeycomb rival.

What’s further down the pipeline?

The most movement will be around Android, especially as Google prepares to launch Android Ice Cream Sandwich in Q4 2011. That will bring together the different elements of Honeycomb as well as Android for smartphones and for Google TV into a single package. Innovative form-factors like the ASUS PadFone – which consists of an Android smartphone that docks into a larger tablet housing – are also expected later this year.

Before then, though, we’ll see a broader range of screen sizes, including the 8.9-inch version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the 7-inch ViewSonic ViewPad 7x and Acer Iconia Tab A100, and – if the rumors are true – larger versions of HTC’s Flyer. ASUS’ Eee Pad Slider will offer a physical keyboard in August, while Toshiba’s Thrive will have more ports than we’ve seen on an Android tablet so far.

The iPad 3 isn’t expected until early 2012, and right now all specifications are just rumor rather than Apple fact. It’s tipped to follow the iPhone 4 and have a high-resolution “Retina Display” and there’s even talk of 3D, while higher-resolution front and rear cameras seem likely. The 3G enabled models could well get an upgrade to 4G, network-depending.

Windows 8 will also arrive in 2012, and promises to be far more tablet-friendly. A new interface will put more emphasis on touchscreen control and carry across some of the UI lessons Microsoft has learned from Windows Phone. Meanwhile, the Windows on ARM project – backed by TI, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and others – will see low-cost, ultra-frugal chips (yet still capable of 1080p video and gaming) more commonly found in Android slates powering Microsoft’s platform.

Wrap-Up

It’s tough to recommend a Windows 7 tablet or the BlackBerry PlayBook to regular users. Each have their advantages, but there’s a fair amount of frustration there too. Right now, it’s an iOS/Android battlefield, though the imminent HP TouchPad could well prove to be a wildcard.

Those looking for out-of-the-box reliability and predictability should probably begin their search looking at Apple’s iPad 2. Alternatively, Android Honeycomb tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer offer compelling reasons to consider them: Flash support in the browser, a more open attitude toward third-party apps and greater flexibility in form factor.

 

SLASHGEAR

Categories
Gadgets

I Have a Dream …

The impending Mobile number portability in the Nigerian GSM sector has been welcomed with applause and expectations. This is with the assumption that the industry would become very much competitive, barring any form of cartel formation, that is, if it is not in existence already.

Number portability basically means that, say, using a “0809” number will not necessarily mean you are a subscriber to the Etisalat network. Also, you could have a “0803” number and be a subscriber to Airtel. You can switch within the networks whilst still keeping your number.

A number of countries have long deployed such services; South Africa, Egypt, Israel, US, UK,etc.

It is not news that the quality of service being rendered by these companies is appalling at best. Someone even commented that it is a joke. I agreed with him, especially when i read in the papers that one of them is about launching 4G in Nigeria. 4G! Very hilarious.  Not one of them can even boast of rendering quality 3G services, talkless of 4G. Dont even get me started.

It is an open secret that my GSM company of choice, for now, is Etisalat. Aside from their unrivalled customer services, the 2.5G or Edge speed they have been offering is very much better than what the other jokers have been touting as “3G” or “3.5G”. I just hope that with the recent acquisition of their 3G license, they will show us what true 3G is!

As usual, can anyone visualize how this portability concept will play out in Nigeria? For one, the almighty MTN will frustrate anyone wishing to leave its stables. I am actually quoting a staffer. To transfer your number to another network, it takes as little as a few seconds in New Zealand, few minutes in Australia, and at the extreme end, 5 days in the UK. Can someone give an educative guess on how long it would take MTN? I shudder to think. Unfortunately, Glo is not much better, i honestly do not know which company has the worst customer service. It is obvious that these two companies would witness not a few of their customers jumping ship.

And on the bigger scene, an article was published on this website detailing the incursion of some big names into almost every technological facet of our lives; Bulk sms,etc. True to that article, Google is now actively involved in VOIP telephony, making calls over the internet. They also offer basically all what is being offered by these GSM companies. And guess what? They allow for Number portability. Christened GOOGLE VOICE, unfortunately, the service is not yet available in Nigeria, but like most technological advances, it would eventually.

I have a dream, that one day, in our country Nigeria, “Everywhere i go”, people  “Glo with pride” and … Airtel stopped its endless adverts on TV!!!