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Gadgets

Tecno Droipad 8H – A Hands On Review

TECNO DROIDPAD 8HINTRODUCTION

Reviews of this tablet is not very much available on the Internet. Worst still, the website of the manufacturer also do not have information on this device. Something akin to a mystery surrounds this tab.

It has been wrongly referred to as DROIDPAD and H8 in many online references, coupled with incorrect product specifications.

While its product specifications can be considered decent, there is no surprises here. Product differentiation among recent android devices, especially those manufactured by Chinese companies, can be considered trivial and almost non existent.
However, the Droipad 8H manages to differentiate itself in 2 key departments. More on this later.

TECNO 8H KEY FEATURES

Detailed device specifications, images and video reviews can be viewed here.

FIRST THOUGHTS

A few things have changed since i penned my first thoughts on this product (read here);

  1. OTA updates now works, but not with a 64GB memory card. I was able to achieve the update with a 2GB card. The 64 GB card, however, works well for regularly usage.
  2. Though this tablet charges somewhat slowly, power inverters and generator effectively charges it. Not sure if this good fortune was a result of a bug fix from the systems update.
  3. Side loading apps is a tad faster but still generally slow.
  4. And I still do not know where Tecno hid the game data of the games that came bundled with the tablet. Gigabytes of space remains tied up.

DESIGN AND BUILD

The trend is for manufacturers to have their products encased in very beautiful and attractive retail packages. Unfortunately, It is also a fact that some of these packages are probably worth more than the device itself.

That is not the case with Tecno.

The black variant of the Tecno Droipad 8H that I chose came in an all black beautiful retail packaging, with gold lettering.

Unboxing the package, the Droipad is the first thing that stares you in the face.

Carefully thought out and put together, the mature and premium feel that the retail packaging exuded continues with the device itself. Predominantly black with gold trimmings at the top and bottom edges, the gold colour choice was also extended to the volume and power buttons.

Digging deeper into the packaging, you can not help but wonder why such a premium designed product would come with such austere accessories; Flip case, decent earpiece and the mandatory charger. That is all! Not even a memory card!

The flip case that comes with it fits snugly onto the tablet giving it a protective feel. For those familiar with Tecno products, their flip case design has become somewhat boring as it does not seem to have changed at all over the years.

OUTSTANDING FEATURES

  • Audio

The speakers on this device would blow your mind. Audio quality is rich, mature and loud enough. Playback via the 3.5mm jack is also very good. For the audiophiles out there, i recommend this. Do not look any further.

The stereo speakers are located on the face of the tablet on its top and lower edges.

  • Battery

After 12 hours of moderate mixed use; WiFi on all through, light video watching, music playback, a game of scrabble, etc, the battery stood at 49%. Shocking, but true. To think Tecno quoted only 9 hours battery life for this device.

  • E-Reader

With about 2,000 epub ebooks, a sprinkle of Pdf files and my choice ebook app, Mantano, reading has been a joy. Scrolling through my ebook collections is a breeze, with almost unnoticeable lag.

OVERALL

It is a highly saturated market for Android devices. The tablets, especially, have never fared as well as the phones. Moreso, manufacturers have intentional crippled the features of tablets for reasons best known to them.

I will definitely chose the Droipad over any other tablet in the market, mainly because it managed to find the sweet spot between quality and price.

Definitely not the best in the market, but the audio quality and battery life is definitely too hard to ignore.

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Gadgets

Extending The Capabilities Of The MS Surface Pro : A Review Of Plugable UD-3900 Docking Station

surface pro 2I use a Surface Pro 2 tablet as my regular laptop. With its up to 8 hour battery life, the tab stores enough juice to last an average work day. However, at home, its limitations become very apparent.

For reasons best known to only Microsoft, this device comes with only a single port – a USB 3.0 port. While I could extend its screen, wirelessly, using a WDTV Live Player I picked up a while back as a conduit, to a bigger 42-inch screen using Miracast Technology, my expansion options were still very limited.

Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 3, the latest iteration of this tablet, also suffer the same dearth of ports. These tablets are not cheap and it is a little disheartening that so much was paid for so little.

Browsing through Amazon, I stumbled on a docking station that compensated for about all the ports that the Surface Pro lacked. It is a universal dock – it extends the capabilities of just about any tablet or laptop, unlike the dedicated proprietary one Microsoft is offering, which you would have to throw out with the Surface Pro whenever you are done with it.

PlugableThe Plugable UD-3900 docking station connects to the single USB 3.0 port on the Surface Pro, compensating it with the following additional ports;

  1. Dual Video Outputs (HDMI up to 2560×1440* and DVI / VGA to 2048×1152 / 1920×1200
  2. Gigabit Ethernet (One)
  3. USB 3.0 Ports (Two)
  4. USB 2.0 Ports (Four)
  5. 3.5mm Audio Jack (One)
  6. 3.5mm Microphone Jack (One)

Like another reviewer noted, the Plugable UD-3900 and Surface Pro 2 do really go great together. Indeed, it is a good buy.

Plugable-UD-3900-USB3.0-Docking-Station-Connect

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Gadgets Mobile Technology

Tecno Phantom A+ : A “Real Life Use” Review

A QUICK BACKGROUND ON THE TECNO PHANTOM A+

Contrary to popular belief, Tecno Phantom A+ was designed by the Hong Kong based Japanese company, Alps Electric Company Limited, in collaboration with Tecno. Some key components of the Phantom A+ were manufactured by Alps.

Tecno Phantom A+ is not your regular Chinese Phone.

INTRODUCTION

This review is not going to be anywhere near an academic one, my aim is basically to assess the suitability of the Tecno Phantom A+ as a possible replacement for my old Samsung S3.

I will not bore you with any specs comparison, i guess we all know the better featured phone here. However, with all the features stuffed into the S3, what fraction of its “super powers” do we ever put to regular real life use? Well, let us find out if the features of the S3 is an overkill for the regular Joe out there.

ACCESSORIES

Okay, right out of the box, the first thing that struck me was the extreme similarity between the packaging containing the Tecno phone and that of the S3, same design down to the last detail.

The content of the Phantom A+ box were an earpiece, 8GB Memory card, a charger & PC cable combo, a Power Bank and a Flip pouch for the phone. The earpiece is of average quality, definitely the listening experience does not compare favourably with the common white Samsung earpiece but it is bearable, with fairly respectable bass output. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the earpiece and by extension, the 3.5mm earphone socket on the Phantom A+ is that they were made for each other – and no one else. The Phantom earpiece will not work (well) on any other device, and your regular earpiece will not work well on the Phantom.

The Power bank is not a substitute to mains charging. In fact, the Power Bank will not charge your phone to full charge but to about 70% capacity. My investigations revealed that to attain full charge for your phone, you will need a power bank with a higher capacity than the 2200mAh one that was shipped with this phone.

The PC cable is a bit flimsy, and i guess it may be the reason why it always take a while for my PC to access the drives on the Phone when connected. I replaced the cable with an old Blackberry cable and the response was faster.

The pouch does not strike me as one that would last a long time. Plastic with suede-like internals, the metallic colour of the front cover was a colour selection well thought out. I love it, feels Apple Mac-ish.

The Samsung S3 also came with a complimentary earpiece, MicroSD card and a Charger – PC cable connector.

Tecno

BATTERY LIFE

I consider myself a power user and this phone sees me through a day – conveniently – even with a bit of juice to spare at the end of the day. My daily routine consists mainly of frequent making and receiving calls, playing music and with 3G and WIFI on all day to power the myriad of internet based apps on the phone. For my wife, a full charge takes her through 2 days.

Additionally, the Power Bank and the miniature cable connector will conveniently fit into your shirt pocket. With this can give your phone a quick charge when you need it. The Power Bank also doubles as a flash light.

The S3, or any Samsung device at that, are not known for their long battery life. It is an exception if your Samsung S3 phone lasts a day, taking it through the motions that i take the Tecno. Infact, i had a charger stationed permanently in the office with another charger installed in my car. Battery life improved a bit when i purged the phone of Samsung’s bloated ROM and installed Custom Roms. Carbon ROM was my preferred choice.

TecnoAESTHETICS

Honestly, it is hard to decide which of the 2 phones looks finer. I am swayed to the Tecno Phantom A+ for total build quality. It definitely looks (emphasis on LOOK) like it has a more matured looking build, looks less plasticky than the all too obvious plastic materials used for the S3.

For the internals, i tend to pimp up my phone’s desktop with widgets. No performance lag of any sort on the Tecno, its 1GB RAM seems up to the task. To get the look in the image shown to the right, i always install the following apps on my android devices; Nova Launcher, Agenda, HD Widget

PICTURE QUALITY

Let us tip our hats to the S3 on this. Picture quality of the Phantom is quite ok but not comparable. It is not all about the “MPs”, higher Mega Pixels do not translate to better picture quality.

DUAL SIM

What can i say? No show for the S3.

INTERNAL MEMORY

You think the manufacturers of Tecno were generous with the 8GB memory card included in the package? You though wrong. This was meant to compensate for the low internal memory, 4GB.

The default installation drive for your apps is the memory card, with only the system files installed to the internal memory. This option is configurable.

Okay, call me an App junkie, i care less. At anytime, you will find more than 50 user installed apps on my phone. The phone has conveniently accomodated my excesses so far, even with enough space to spare.

GAMING

Out of the box, the Phantom A+ has 3 games pre-installed. Perhaps the most prominent and graphics intensive of the lot is Gameloft’s Asphalt Adrenaline 6, which plays flawlessly on the phone.

BBM CHAT

BBM for Android works flawlessly on this device as any other.

GSM RECEPTION

Highly subjective. Glo reception on the Samsung S3 was mostly unreliable. A little surprising that places that i had hitherto received shaky network reception fare better on the Phantom A+

SCREEN QUALITY

Unbelievable screen quality. The first thing that will strike you about the phone is how vividly the large 5.0 inch HD screen renders images. Not exceptional, especially coming from a S3 but definitely not a walk over either.

ROOTING & CUSTOM ROMS

I rooted the Phantom A+ the same night i unboxed it. A lot of resources are available online for this product, especially on nairaland.com. Custom ROMS are also available though i am not swayed to try them out yet as they do not offer convincing competitive advantage over the stock Rom. Also, the Roms are all Android OS 4.2.2 and not OS 4.3.1 or better still, Android OS 4.4 (KitKat)

PRODUCTIVITY

Document scanning using Camscanner is not as good as that of the S3, a throwback to camera quality perhaps. Scanned documents are however very passable.

CONCLUSION

Yes, i will not mind having a flagship phone from Samsung, perhaps the Samsung Galaxy S5 (Rumoured to be announced/released by February 2014) or the Samsung Note 4. However, ownership of any of these phones is strictly to satisfy my insatiable lust for gadgets and probably for bragging rights.

Obviously, the Phantom A+ is not the best featured phone out there but as far as functional phones go, the Phantom A+ definitely meets all my daily productive needs.

The problem with Tecno phones adoption in Nigeria is no longer about its durability but its affordability. Nigerians do not want to be viewed as being cheap, even when they can ill-afford the cost of a high end device. An average Nigerian would rather starve to put up a facade of affluence.

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Gadgets Mobile

Are Hybrid Tablets the New Netbooks?

Hybrid TabletsHybrids have gotten a lot of hype lately, with a slew of touch-enabled laptops and flipping, folding convertible designs launching so far this year. But with some of these new hybrids—specifically smaller tablets with docking keyboards—there’s been a nagging question that I can’t quite shake: Are hybrid tablets the new netbooks?

You remember netbooks, right? The minuscule clamshell PCs, with 8-to 10-inch screens and crowded keyboards, caught shoppers’ attention as much for their sub-$500 prices as for their compact form factors. For a brief period a few years back, netbooks were the hot new thing, selling like proverbial hotcakes—but it didn’t last. Those hotcakes didn’t even stay sold as customers returned their cheap netbooks in droves.

Complaints touched on everything from screen dimensions (in many cases, too small to display full-size webpages) to keyboard width (too tiny for traditional typing), but the biggest gripe by far was about the processors. Shoppers went looking for inexpensive alternatives to laptops, but found that netbooks’ pint-sized CPUs wouldn’t always support the programs they were accustomed to, or provide the speed they expected.

Though you’ll still see one or two being sold as inexpensive systems for K-12 students, by and large the netbook is now all but extinct. The ultrabook has come on the scene, offering portability with the promise of a full-fledged processor, but the prices usually bottom out around $700. Apple’s MacBook Air models eventually jump-started Intel’s Ultrabook category, but so surpassed the underpowered netbooks of the time that they are rightly considered part of another category.

It’s starting to feel as if the netbook is rearing its head again.

As tablets and hybrid ultrabook designs have begun cropping up recently, it’s starting to feel as if the netbook is rearing its head yet again. Ten-and 11-inch tablets are being released with docking keyboards and Windows 8, designed to provide the convenience seen in iPads and Android tablets, but with the additional productive capability and software support of a Windows PC. These little tablets share many of the defining features of netbooks. Dinky Atom processors? Check. Chintzy 32-bit versions of Windows? Check. Small screens? Check. Cramped keyboards? Check.

But there are some key differences as well. For example, the keyboards are slightly improved over those on netbooks, with many lessons learned from earlier disasters. You won’t see one coming in at less than 10 inches, where keyboards on the largest netbooks topped out at 10 or 11 inches—and most systems were equipped with nearly useless keyboards 8 or 9 inches in size.

Small screens are also less of an issue, as they are now wide enough to display content without cutting off webpages, and the Web has adapted to smaller displays thanks to smartphones and other mobile devices. And where netbooks were often used at arm’s length like a laptop, tablets are more ergonomically suited to cradling and carrying. Higher screen resolutions also play a part, with most hybrids offering 720p and a few even sporting 1080p. The result is a much more readable, usable display.

The current Atom CPUs can run all of the legacy apps that netbooks of yesteryear could not.

Where the Atom processors used in netbooks were slow and clunky, the newest batch of Atom CPUs deliver speedier performance and superb battery life. Intel has pushed hard to close the gap between their mobile and PC chips, desiring a stronger presence in mobile markets, and the Atom platform is the beneficiary of this progress. The results aren’t on par with the latest Core processors, but you will find solid basic performance. More important, the current Atom CPUs can run all of the legacy apps that the netbooks of yesteryear could not.

Finally, the usage model has changed. Only a few years ago, netbooks were expected to be primarily productivity machines, letting you type documents, fill out spreadsheets, and so on. Since that time, online services like Netflix, Facebook, and Skype have exploded. For these sorts of uses detachable hybrid tablets are perfect, letting you curl up with a movie the way past generations curled up with a good book. You can Skype and chat and browse to your heart’s content. And with a docking keyboard, you can actually do some work, whether that means taking notes in a classroom or meeting, preparing spreadsheets, or designing a presentation.

So, although detachable hybrid tablets certainly share a family resemblance to netbooks, they are ultimately their own devices, with their own pros and cons. One of the biggest benefits of these new devices is all-day battery life—and I do mean all day. Some of the latest Atom-powered tablets offer well beyond the 8 hours needed for a full workday, and then supplement this with a second battery in the docking keyboard, letting you go from dawn to dusk and into the night without stopping to charge.

Will 2013 see a repeat of the buy-and-return cycle that killed off netbooks? Between the improved capability of today’s systems and the evolution of buyers’ expectations, I think shoppers are safe. Vendors and manufacturers, on the other hand, have a very different concern: If people can already do most of this with the smartphones and tablets they already have, who will want to buy a Windows tablet?

Between the improved capability of today’s systems and the evolution of buyers’ expectations, I think shoppers are safe.

Source : PCMAG

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Gadgets Mobile

Android Tablets: Finally Ready?

Sure, the iPad is great. But it isn’t right for everyone. A new tablet from Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, or another maker may be a better choice for you.

Choice. For a long time, you didn’t have much choice if you were in the market for a tablet—Apple’s iPad was the only good option. But that’s starting to change: Though the iPad 2 remains the top slate overall, the best choice for you may well be one that runs Google’s Android operating system.

It all depends on what you need from a tablet. Lots of Android models beat the iPad 2 in specific respects. Some have longer battery life, for instance. Others make it easier to get work done. Some are simpler to use with a camera or TV. Others may come in a size that you find more convenient.

Of course, a tablet’s operating system is hugely important. iOS is consistent, polished, and dependable. If you buy Apple’s tablet, however, you also buy into Apple’s universe—and you can use only the apps that Apple okays.

Android gives you more freedom and control (although it doesn’t always work as smoothly). And Android offers several other benefits. For example, Android 3.x Honeycomb was made to take full advantage of larger tablet displays, and it does a better job than iOS 4.x or 5.x in effectively using the screen for notifications, email, Web browsing, and image viewing.

Android is dynamic and customizable. You can tailor the home screens’ look and function. Many apps have live widgets that let you preview email or weather from the home screen, without opening the app. Some tablets have custom apps with navigation shortcuts; Lenovo’s favorite-apps ring stands out, as does Sony’s customizable menu design. In contrast, iOS screens are static; the icons are just graphics that open apps.

You have more Android hardware choices, too. Tablets come in varied screen sizes: 7 inches, 8 inches, 8.9 inches, 9.4 inches, 10.1 inches. Some have screens of a higher resolution than the iPad 2’s display, some offer the option to add more storage with a memory card, and some boast integrated ports.

Android can’t compete with iOS, however, in the number of available apps. More than 100,000 apps are designed to run on the iPad, but at this point it’s unclear how many apps are made specifically for Android Honeycomb tablets. It’s difficult to know for sure because Google’s Android Market doesn’t make it easy to find apps created especially for tablets.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, due out on phones by the time you read this and on tablets in early 2012, should encourage developers to create more apps that will work on Android tablets. Theoretically the new OS will let developers scale their apps from small screens to large, so one app can serve both phones and tablets. Don’t expect Android 4.0 to be an instant cure, however. It will be some time before you see a jump in the number of apps that properly employ tablets’ larger screens. And finding apps may continue to be a problem: Although Google says the Market returns results that are appropriate for the device you’re searching from, in our experience it’s no guarantee that a listed app will display or work well on a tablet.

We examined more than two dozen tablets for this roundup, working with each model extensively and running all of them through the PCWorld Labs suite of tablet tests. The iPad 2 is our top choice overall, primarily because of the strength of its app ecosystem and how it allows you to find apps. However, Android tablets, led by the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, are hot on the trail of our leader, excelling in areas such as enhancing productivity and playing well with other devices.

Photos, Music, and Video

BEST: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

For many people, a tablet primarily serves as an entertainment device meant for viewing photos, listening to music, or watching video. For those uses, no tablet beats the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It benefits from Android’s open platform, which lets you transfer media files from your PC to the tablet directly, no software intermediary or video transcoding needed. In our tests, transferring media files to the Tab 10.1 took half as long as doing so to the iPad 2, which required iTunes software.

Furthermore, Android’s Gallery app is more flexible, and provides more options, than Apple’s built-in photo viewer. Video looks great on the Tab 10.1’s sharp display, too.

Apple’s iPad 2 uses iTunes to sync music and video to the tablet. This arrangement is fine for music and video already in your iTunes library, but not great for video captured from other sources. Syncing images through iTunes is a pain as well.

The iPad 2’s biggest strength is its display, which has good color accuracy and skin tones, and the best balance of colors we’ve seen. The display lacks the resolution necessary to produce crisp, detailed images, however, and it struggled to render text on our image of a Web page. For those reasons, the iPad 2 tied the Tab 10.1 in our subjective display tests.

Though the Tab 10.1 had a few issues of its own, it still finished way ahead of the pack. Colors were oversaturated, to the point where a purple outfit took on blue hues, and reds resembled candy-cane stripes. We also detected a Gallery glitch that affected our Tab model, in which images required a pinch-and-zoom action to sharpen to full resolution. Samsung has identified the issue and plans to fix it in an update.

Meanwhile, all of the Android models we’ve evaluated struggle to some degree at properly reproducing the browns and neutral shadings of skin tones. That failure is so consistent on tablets from different manufacturers that I can only think something in the way Android handles colors is off.

None of the tested tablets produced terrific audio through their built-in speakers. All of the Android models tended to sound tinny, with soft volume piped through Google’s included music player. Again, the universality of this issue makes me wonder whether Android’s audio processing is at fault. Here’s why: When I played the same tracks through the speakers of the Sony Tablet S in the Google Music Player and in Sony’s own music player, the audio sounded transformed in the latter. The audio from Sony’s player—which uses several enhancement technologies that the company says it developed for its Walkman series—was far superior, with better bass and body.

Openness and Expandability

BEST: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, Sony Tablet S, Toshiba Thrive

The iPad 2 is an island—you can’t connect it to another device without a dongle, and even then you may get limited functionality. And you can’t add storage; whatever capacity you buy is what you have for the duration.

In contrast, generally Android tablets connect to a TV or camera much more easily, and they let you add more storage through a memory card.

The Sony Tablet S has two features that are handy when you want to use your tablet in your living room. Several tablets, including those from Asus and Samsung, have software for streaming content from your tablet over a home network. But Sony’s Tablet S is the only slate that integrates the ability to send content to a device (such as an HDTV) with a simple tap directly from whatever content you want to transmit wirelessly. The Tablet S is also the only model in our Top 10 that can double as a universal remote control. (It’s one of just three tablets at this writing to offer a universal remote; the others are Vizio’s 8” Tablet VTAB1008, which didn’t make our chart, and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, which came out too late for inclusion in this story.) The Tablet S has an infrared blaster like the ones in conventional remote controls, along with a well-designed on-screen remote to use with your home entertainment system.

For a reliable connection to your HDTV, be sure to select a tablet that has a full-size, Mini, or Micro HDMI port built in. Tablets that lack integrated ports—such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2—require bulky dongles that will set you back about $40. Aside from the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Galaxy Tab 8.9, all of the Android tablets in our Top 10 have an HDMI output of some kind.

Memory card slots obviously make tablets more versatile, but beware: Not all card slots are equally useful. Some tablets permit you to transfer files from a card, but won’t allow you to store apps and data on one. And full-size slots—as opposed to MicroSD slots—mean that you can take the card from your camera and put it directly into your tablet to view your pictures.

Of the three tablets on our chart that come equipped with a full-size SD Card slot, one, the Sony Tablet S, can merely transfer files from the card, not use it for extra storage (Sony says that it will support doing so in a future update). The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet and the Toshiba Thrive can use memory cards as storage space. And the Thrive is the only tablet to support SDXC, a card format that accommodates up to 100GB of digital data. Both the ThinkPad Tablet and the Thrive also have a full-size USB port for use with flash drives or hard drives.

Battery Life

BEST: Apple iPad 2

If you spend much of the day away from power outlets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 may be the best tablet for you. It finished on top in our battery-life tests, running for 10 hours, 42 minutes while continuously playing a 1080p video. The Tab 10.1 lasted 2 hours, 18 minutes longer than its closest rival, the Apple iPad 2, and 3 hours longer than the Motorola Xoom.

Unfortunately, the Tab 10.1 was slow to recharge: It needed 5 hours, 34 minutes, more than double the time that the best performers (the Xoom, the Thrive, and the Acer Iconia Tab A500, A501, and A100) required. The iPad 2 wasn’t the fastest at recharging; but at 4 hours, 10 minutes, it provided a better balance between run time and charge time than the Tab 10.1 did, so we think it’s a better choice in this category overall.

Productivity

BEST: Asus Eee Pad Slider, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet

Tablets may not be able to perform hard-core video or photo editing, or crunch macro-filled spreadsheets, but they will let you handle key work tasks such as responding to email, writing and editing business documents, and browsing the Web.

Our two picks here distinguish themselves for very different reasons. The ThinkPad Tablet stands out in one clear way: It’s the only 10-inch-class Android tablet on our chart to support pen input, which makes it useful for annotating, sketching, and writing free-form notes. It uses N-trig’s digitizer pen (a $30 option), and even offers a spot for you to tuck the stylus away. Yes, you can find numerous capacitive touchscreen pens, but none of them have the precision and accuracy of N-trig’s tech. The ThinkPad Tablet’s business-friendly security features and options, such as the terrific $100 Keyboard Folio case (pictured above), also make it one to beat in this category.

The innovative Asus Eee Pad Slider, our other selection for productivity champion, lacks business-specific options, and it’s the heaviest tablet we’ve tested. But it’s the only slate available that has a built-in physical keyboard—a terrific option if you plan to walk and type at the same time, or if you want the speed and convenience that only an integrated, slide-out keyboard can provide. The slide-out keyboard isn’t as roomy as some optional external keyboards, such as the ThinkPad Keyboard Folio Case, but the usefulness of having the keyboard present at all times is unmatched. I also appreciated the fact that the display was set at a comfortable angle when I pulled out the cramped but functional keyboard; the only thing I missed was having an integrated pointing device.

If a pointing device is important to you, consider the other Asus tablet on our chart, the Eee Pad Transformer TF101. It pairs with the company’s $150 dock, resulting in a combo that folds together like a clamshell netbook. And when you don’t want the bulk and weight of the keyboard, no problem—just detach it and go. The dock also has a USB port and an SD Card slot, plus an extra battery and an integrated touchpad.

Although external Bluetooth keyboards and keyboard/case combos are options, it’s important to look at a tablet’s built-in software keyboard, too. An inefficiently designed keyboard can give you much grief in the long run—especially if you can’t replace it, as is the case with Apple’s native iOS keyboard.

Regrettably, Apple’s keyboard is one of the most awkward on-screen keyboards I’ve used. Other keyboard layouts and designs are far superior, with better key placement and spacing, and more-useful shortcuts. I can touch-type more quickly on the default Android keyboard than I can on the iPad 2 keyboard. The new split thumb-keyboard design available in iOS 5 is good, but you can add something similar to Android by buying one of several replacement-keyboard apps. That Android lets you replace the keyboard with a third-party app is a critical productivity difference between iOS and Android.

Many Android tablets come with a customized keyboard from the get-go. The Tab 10.1 has one of my favorite custom keyboards; I find it well designed and finger-friendly. The Asus, Lenovo, Sony, T-Mobile, and Toshiba tablets on our chart also supply their own on-screen keyboards.

The iPad 2 is subpar in content creation as well, since iOS lacks a central file management system. That means files end up associated with specific apps—and you can get those files out only if an app is written in a way that allows it. For example, if you use Dropbox to access a file, you can open that file only in an app that’s written to interface with Dropbox; the same condition applies if you open an email attachment. Bottom line: On the iPad 2, you don’t have full control over your data.

Android tablets permit you to access the central file system, messy though it may be. The advantage becomes clear the first time you want to, say, transfer a file from an SD Card, edit it in one app, rename it, open it in a second app, and then email it to a new destination. Or you might want to move images around into different folders, a task that’s quite easy to do in a file-manager app on Android, but not on iOS.

I also prefer Android’s included productivity software over the apps that iOS offers. I like the way the Android Web browser works, and the way the Gmail app is designed, too.

Productivity is one of the few areas in which Android tablets compete with the iPad in the availability of apps. You’ll find suites such as Documents to Go, Polaris Office, Quickoffice, and ThinkFree Mobile Office designed for Android tablets. The Android Market also features a plethora of file managers and remote control software.

For productivity, generally you should go straight to the larger models: The 10.1-inch Android tablets have roomy, widescreen displays that offer almost as much real estate as a netbook does. However, the 7-inch, 1280-by-800-pixel T-Mobile SpringBoard has one advantage: It’s the first of a new wave of high-resolution displays. In our tests, its smoothly rendered, nonpixelated text stood in sharp contrast to the text on most Android models. While text is certainly readable on other tablets, going from one of them to the SpringBoard reminds me of when an optometrist makes a simple adjustment and the eye chart goes from slightly fuzzy to crisp.

Gaming

BEST: Apple iPad 2

A great gaming tablet needs to have capable hardware and a terrific selection of games. On both criteria, the iPad 2 can’t be beat. In its sheer ability to process frames per second, it leads all comers. The iPad 2 produced 52 fps on our gaming test with antialiasing off, scoring 27 percent higher than the nearest Android rival, the 7-inch, 1024-by-600-pixel Acer A100, which hit a frame rate of 41 fps. (The test we run, GLBenchmark 2.1, is representative of a 3D game using OpenGL. We run the test at the tablet’s native screen resolution; if a slate has a comparatively low resolution, it could do better in this metric.)

We saw a wide variance among the test results for Honeycomb tablets. In fact, among Android 3.1 and 3.2 models with the same core components (Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU, 1GB of memory), the difference was as large as 77 percent. Some of that variance might be attributable to the tablets’ different screen sizes, while some might stem from the optimization changes that manufacturers make to the Android software. However, most of the tablets with Tegra 2 chips averaged between 20 and 30 fps. (On desktop and laptop PCs, we consider 30 fps the minimum playable frame rate for games, although some games may play acceptably at lower frame rates.)

The benchmark we use stresses a given tablet’s 3D-graphics performance, but few games available today will push an Android tablet to anywhere near its limits. (If you’re interested in such games, however, take a look at titles optimized for Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor.) Popular games such as Angry Birds and Bejeweled, for example, won’t stretch your tablet’s graphics capabilities.

In fact, you’ll find relatively few games available for Android tablets at all. A far larger selection of games is available for the iPad, and more marquee developers are working on iOS games than on games for Android. And as with Android apps in general, you may not be able to tell from the Android Market description whether a game will even work on a particular Android tablet, let alone whether it’s optimized for a tablet.

Now that Android 4.0 has arrived, however, the situation may begin to evolve. We expect to see more tablet-friendly games, since, as noted earlier, Ice Cream Sandwich changes how Android scales apps for different-size screens. Additionally, by default the new OS enables hardware graphics acceleration for smoother gameplay.

Sony’s Tablet S, in particular, has the potential to play a wider variety of games than other Android tablets because it has access to Sony’s PlayStation Store, which is gradually ramping up its selection of titles (about a dozen are becoming available in the fall, and more are expected by year’s end). The company intends to provide Android versions of classic PlayStation and PlayStation Portable games. For instance, the Tablet S comes preloaded with Crash Bandicoot, which was a hoot to play once I got used to the on-screen replica of the PlayStation controls. The graphics of this 1996 title seemed ragged, but the game remains entertaining. Sony plans to open access to its PlayStation Store to more tablets; for now, though, this is Sony’s secret weapon for game lovers.

In our gaming tests, the Tablet S tied with the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, achieving an average of 30 fps, enough to handle challenging game graphics smoothly.

Looking ahead in gaming, Android has one wild card in its favor: The OS supports physical game controllers connected via USB or Bluetooth. This capability is a big boon, assuming developers take advantage of it. Apple’s offering has no similar feature: The iPad 2 lacks a USB port, and iOS doesn’t allow Bluetooth game controllers to interface with the tablet.

Ports

TOSHIBA’S THRIVE PACKS the most ports of any tablet, including full-size USB and HDMI, and Mini-USB under a flap. On the other side is an SDXC card slot.

Source – PCWorld

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Beauty Or The Beast?

In the first part of this post, i started the chronicling of my activities in the search of a replacement for my iPad tablet. The iPad still remains the most widely accepted tablet because of its popularity, perceived status symbol and, well, fashion accessory. For the serious minded geeks out there, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the iPad is not in the least functional. From simple tasks like attaching files to emails or viewing flash enabled sites to more serious tasks like backing up your files, nothing comes easy or straightforward.

It really has been a very long search, no thanks to the endless streams of tablets coming into the market. However, my search is being guided by 6 key considerations, based on my present circumstances and needs;

1. COST : A budget of $400
2. ACCEPTABLE BATTERY LIFE
3. SCREEN SIZE : Preference for 10.1 inch tablets. I read a lot of A4 formatted PDF files.
4. 3G CAPABILITIES
5. APPS : Acceptable availability of apps for the OS platform of choice
6. EXPANSION PORTS : Presence of any or all of the following ports; MicroSD, SD, mini or full HDMI and mini or full USB.

At the end of the day,the following tablets made the first cut based on, at least, 4 of the criteria listed above;

– Samsung Galaxy 10.1
– Archos 101 G9
– Lenovo Ideapad K1
– Acer Aconia A500
– Toshiba Thrive

It is very common place to find a lot of these tablets having very similar features (1Ghz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor; 2MP and 5MP front and rear facing cameras; 1GB RAM, etc) and only differentiated by brand names and inconsequential features. However, two of these tablets were able to seperate themselves from the pack, thereby making my second cut;

1. Samsung Galaxy 10.1 (a.k.a Beauty)

Regarded as the iPad of the Android world, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is indeed a fantastic device and undoubtedly, the Android tablet with the best user experience.

Slim, light and quite pretty, the device compares very favourably with the iPad 2 and possess very similar design and features. And with 10 hour battery life, it tips the scale in probably being one of the best Android device around.

Unfortunately, just like the iPad, it lacks expansion ports. None at all!

2. Toshiba Thrive (a.k.a. The Beast)

Weighing in at 1.66lbs and with 0.62 inches thickness (almost twice the thickness of iPad 2), the Toshiba Thrive makes no pretence at being slim or pretty. It was intended as a near laptop replacement, thanks to its array of expansion ports; Full HDMI out, Full and mini USB, Full and mini SD (max 32GB), SDHC and SDXC (max 2TB). With The Thrive, the possiblities and expandability of the full USB port are almost endless. It accepts your regular keyboard and mouse (wired or wireless), flash drives, portable drives,etc. And to top it all, the tablet is about the only one that has a user replaceable battery!

Simply put, The Thrive is for those that expect a lot more than an ipad.

Probably the only snag with this tablet is the relative limited battery life. The max you can probably squeeze out of it is about 8 hours.

My Verdict

At about $450 for the minimum Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 specs, the tablet has exceeded my budget by about $50. In Nigeria where the minimum wage is just a little over $100 per month, this sure counts for a lot. However, what eventually informed my choice of the Toshiba Thrive ($360) over the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the lack of expansion ports on the former.

Personally, I believe those with limited demands on their tablets or those more concerned about the status symbol their tablet would confer on them, may consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. But for the Geeks, chances are that The Thrive would suit your needs just fine.

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

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Honeycomb Tablet Arrives for $399

Today ASUS officially announced the launch of the Eee Pad Transformer tablet in North America, and it comes at the surprising low price of $399 for the 16GB model and $499 for the 32GB version.

Compare that to $599 for the 32GB Motorola Xoom and suddenly the Asus Transformer is looking pretty darn good, especially considering the specs are almost identical to the Xoom, except the Transformer has a higher-quality screen.

Additionally, the Eee Pad is called the Transformer because it comes with an optional docking station with a full QWERTY keyboard, touchpad, ports, and the docking station even boosts battery life because it has a battery built in.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer goes on sale April 26th, and will sell from several major retailers in the US and Canada, including Amazon, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, Target, and Walmart, to name a few.

I’ll definitely be picking one up to review, so check back next week. In the mean time, you can find some more information about the Transformer—a list of specs and a video demo—over on the new Asus Transformer review page, of which will be updated with the hands-on review and video once it gets finished.

Source

Categories
Lifestyle

Circumventing Power Problems in Nigeria

We all know it. One of the greatest problems confronting Nigeria is the inadequacy of public electricity power supply. The inefficiency of this government agency is linked to the biggest singular problem holding us back from attaining our pride of place in the committee of nations – CORRUPTION. But that is a story for another day!

As  a techie, we should perpetually be on the look-out for how to use technology to circumvent problems confronting us. What alternatives exist to mitigate the effects of our self-imposed nationwide darkness?.

The first thing I did to confront our perpetual darkness was ensure I get a netbook and a smartphone that both have good battery life. In the case of the netbook, it can do about seven hours on a single full charge. This ensures that I can work during the major part of the day without worrying about PHCN and their inefficiencies.

My smartphone is a tool I cannot afford to do without. So, the good battery life saves me from running out of power unexpectedly. It will usually carry me through the whole day too as long as I am parsimonious (frugal, in English) as regards the use to which I put it. It is also wise to have a spare battery for your smartphone, unless you have an iPhone or a Nokia N* that do not support frivolous battery swapping!

A lot of people in the IT world  own UPSes (Uninterruptible Power Systems). This often comes in handy in charging your phone, temporarily powering your laptop , blending your pepper (connect your blender), as well as powering a fluorescent tube. The higher the power of that UPS, the longer it can serve before discharging. An inverter setup may be a better, but more expensive, alternative.

I have a small-sized OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode)  TV. Specifically for my use when there is a cut in public power supply. This TV It is power efficient. By connecting it to a high-power UPS, I am able to enjoy over one hour of interrupted viewing pleasure, when PHCN strikes.

An often overlooked  alternative power source is the car cigarette lighter. With the right adapter, you can also power your netbook / laptop and  charge your phone too. There is a lot that a 12-voltage power source can do.

You can buy a portable car television/radio/dvd player. That way, when PHCN does their bit, you can still keep in touch with news and information, as well as get entertained with sonorous music.

By making use of these alternatives, you are reducing your carbon footprint (by not putting on your generator), you reduce noise pollution, and most importantly, you save yourself some fuel (and generator maintenance) costs.

A hilarious but interesting solution mentioned by a car dealer friend to having a good, dreamless nights’ rest is this; He switches on the engine of his Mitsubishi car, winds up the windows, puts on the car-airconditioner, reclines the seat and goes to sleep! Can you beat that? The car has a V6 engine, the seats are comfortable, and the engine hardly makes any noise as it idles! And the 12-speaker system of the car ensures that mellifluous music fills the car. Great idea if your Landlord ever ejects you for failing to pay your house rent!

What about you? What strategies do you adopt to circumvent the problem of interminable power cuts? That is, apart from putting on that noisy generator and killing your neighbours gradually with noise and noxious fumes?

Categories
Gadgets

As It Was In The Beginning …

There is a ritual I perform every saturday and I am very religious about it. Last saturday was no different and by 7.30am (GMT+1), the stage was already set. I tuned the TV to BBC, just in time to see Spencer Kelly give his intro on my favourite TV programme, CLICK.

In his usual comic style, he was amazed that it took decades for the mobile phone to have the small form factor as we know it today only for trends to be reversing back to the big form factor that is the tablet.

The comment really set me thinking. The tablet form factor is by no means new. Some people have traced the earliest reported reference to the tablet to the time of Moses and the tablets the ten commandments were written on. While this may sound incredulous and very far fetched, the earliest reported case of the tablet was probably the Apple Graphics Tablet.

The increasing popularity of the Tablet form factor has been traced to the emergence of the ereaders, notably the Kindle and to a lesser extent, the Nook. But consumers seemed to want something more than just a device to read from, they wanted a convergence device that would probably do more than what their laptops would do, while remaining portable. The geeks at Apple probably recognized this need and out came the iPad. And boom!, the tablet revolution started.

Ever since, there has been a flurry of activities in the tablet market, with almost every major manufacturer releasing or planning a release of their own product come 2011, thanks largely to the runaway success of the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Apple iPad. This has caused a major downward shift in the demand for the hitherto popular netbooks for the more portable and fancier, albeit less powerful tablets. One thing is very clear here, consumers want portability and convergence of their array of devices but not at a price, either monetary or performance-wise.

Yes, we all know the iPad and the Samsung tab are over-priced, how in heaven’s name did Etisalat Nigeria come up with a N125,000 price tag (about US$800) for the Samsung Tab? A device that retails for about US$499! Shipping costs? Apple has also been accused of making ungodly profits from its devices. However, these products are selling (or sold) like hot cakes because performance-wise, considering the limiting form factor, they were outstanding.

Our native land, Nigeria, has indeed been caught up in the buzz. A major mobile network, Starcomms, has released its own 10 inch tablet, christened “my pad” into the market, retailing for N74,999 with some added extras; wifi Internet Router and 3 month internet access. A few other local companies have also unveiled their products and they have scheduled a 2011 release date. While the idea of having Nigeria visibly in the midst of the technological wonder that is the Tablet, we only hope that the rush to have their products in the market is well thought out. Some have already been accused of rebranding low quality, grey market, nameless Chinese clones with screen calibration issues and pathetic 3- hour battery life. I strongly pray that the delay in the release of tablets into the Nigerian market is for effective fine-tuning to make them comparable to the ipads and the galaxy tabs.

Nigerian consumers are very demanding and unforgiving. Also, they want the best products for the least prices. They have tasted what other manufacturers have to offer, price reduction as an excuse to push low quality devices into the market may meet with initial acceptance but a guaranteed failure on the long run. Whatever happened to all the Chinese phones that Nigeria was flooded with? A case of natural selection you would say?

While we continue praying fervently that the Nigerian offerings will be a success, for now, we will continue to wait on the sidelines. And with the likes of Apple “upping” their game with the rumoured release of Ipad 2 in first quarter of 2011, I hope these devices will not be “Dead on Arrival (DOA)”.

We can only watch and pray that I am very wrong.

Thank you all for your comments and contributions that has made this blog a success in its 6 months of existence. Special thanks to Eyebeekay for his invaluable contributions. This is Wale Falade signing out for 2010.

Happy New Year !!!