The new Nexus 7: A second shot at a good idea?

google-nexus-7-logoAs if the war for what device dominates the 7 inch mini tab form factor was not cruel enough, technology giants Google decided to play another entry with their new Nexus 7, which became available since yesterday, July 30th.

The new Nexus 7 features a raft of improvements over last years Nexus 7; even though they practically look almost the same. First to mention would be that unlike the former Nexus 7, this one comes with the latest update of the Android OS (Jelly Bean 4.3) which of a truth is not that big of a difference really except that you can now have separate customizable spaces, including personal homescreens, wallpapers, apps and storage; which is an appealing idea. So, those whose tablets usually get in the hands of others do not have much to worry about anymore when it comes to people tampering with stuff.  It features a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor with an Adreno 300 400Mhz, which in simpler terms means the tablet should run pretty fast. there is also 2GB of RAM, a 5MP rear facing camera, 1.2MP front facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0LE, Wireless charging and a new HDMI slim port. With all of that for just about $30 extra, it is sure that comparing sister Nexus devices would lead to some level of unfairness.

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Even though the 7 inch screens of both devices are typically same, the new Nexus 7 runs at 323 PPI which is ridiculously sharper than the previous one at 216PPI. This display is one key feature that holds the retina-less iPad mini to question (well, of course until apple decides to release an iPad mini with retina display).  Watching movies on the new Nexus 7 is quite commendable honestly; and your Android OS has never looked crispier on any other tablet. The speaker sound on the new Nexus 7 is also improved, and thanks to its thinner design, it even weighs lighter than the previous. With up to 9 hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading, there’s plenty of juice to get you through the day. And very much unlike the iPad, The new Nexus’ slim and lightweight design makes playing games much less strenuous to the wrists.

A truth remains that the new Google Nexus 7 champions the small tablet market for the meantime. A downside to the device would be that there is no SD card slot but its cheaper price range and crispy sharp HD display would give anyone with an iPad mini a run for his money. Google’s second shot at the Nexus 7 isn’t very groundbreaking in terms of innovation but the price is very inviting to tablet newbies. If you owned the previous Nexus 7, then this is certainly a worthwhile upgrade.

Chromebooks, Chromebox, Chrome OS, “Chromium” and the cloud simplified!

We are sure you must have heard of the word “Chromebook” before.

A Chromebook is not a brand of laptops. So saying you have a laptop called “Chromebook” is not actually correct. It is a special type of personal computer concept (of a somewhat notebook form factor) which runs a Linux ported Operating System called Chrome OS by Google. So, does it run Windows… or maybe Macintosh? Nope! Its a whole new Operating System of its own; and it’s “linux-like.”

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Now here comes the most important thing you need to know about Chromebooks running the Chrome OS: The Chrome OS, is specifically designed to support applications that reside on the web and this means that it is designed to be used WHILE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET! So, if you are the kind of computer user who loves to do things offline, you might want to really consider this. Almost everything operates within the web browser which looks and feels like using Google Chrome on your Windows or Mac. You might as well say it is a cheaper, savvier option for those PC users that are most interested in web activity such as email, social media, online video streaming and cloud based document editing via Google Drive.

As at now, only a handful of IT companies have taken on making Chromebooks: Google was of course the first in 2010 and then others: Samsung, Acer, HP and Lennovo joined in. Hence the specifications of each Chromebook varies in hardware, build and features. Chromebooks, are netbooks (smaller laptops designed for web use) with 11.6″ to 14″ screen size and they are thin, lightweight and easy to carry around. “Chromebox” is the desktop computer equivalent of “Chromebook.”

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The Good…

The first good thing to consider about Chromebooks is that they are rather inexpensive to buy. They are also extremely mobile – beautiful looking ultra-thin computers and a much less cumbersome tool to carry around. Chrome OS is running a Linux kernel; so you would not have to worry about viruses and certain levels of security threats. They come with Solid State Drives (SSD) which make boot times super fast and application management flawless and intuitive. All Chromebooks boast of about 4 hours of battery life; which is a plus (but could be better). Don’t worry about connectivity: most Chromebooks also come with SD memory card slots for your devices, and a DisplayPort ++ which is compatible with HDMI, DVI and VGA cables. For internet, they also have WiFi a/b/g/n connectivity, Ethernet and most come with 3G. All these features make the Chromebooks your cheapest option for relative day-to-day activities such as email and web, as well as for office and business use.

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The “Not so” Good…

However, it is worthy to note a couple of things you might also want to consider about Chromebooks. First off is that though they come with fast Solid State hard drive technology, they usually come in with about 16GB worth of space! The Chromebooks are expected to be used over the cloud so it is expected you would be doing much more of your saving online than anywhere else. Only the Acer C7 as at now, has a 320GB hard drive; but guess what? it is NOT Solid state. Next to also note is that they host pretty much only Google apps on it and the Chrome browser, is pretty much everything there is to it. Gmail doesn’t open a dedicated Gmail app, but rather in a new tab in the browser. It’s the same with any Chrome app, including games, with the exception of the downloads and Google Drive file browsers, which have their own windows.

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ChromeOS is optimized for users who already use Google’s numerous applications. The three quick launch apps on the launchbar are the Chrome Web browser, Gmail and Google+. Within the apps drawer, the Google love continues, with YouTube, Google Calendar, Maps, Drive and more all present. Every installed application ends up in this app drawer, but the default apps are all from Google. Unlike Windows or OS X, these app icons function more like bookmarks rather than independent applications. Instead of opening new windows, each icon opens a new tab in the Chrome browser to the desired Web app. ChromeOS has an app marketplace, where users can download and install a maybe large selection of apps; but nothing really new is there that we have not seen. So, the conclusion on this is rather clear: they are rather useless offline. Did you also know that Chrome OS has NO printer drivers. Yes! None!

There is not much to say about the hardware configurations of Chromebooks. Most of them are Intel Celeron CPUs and at most, the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual. With the exception of a few, most of them run on 2GB DDR3 RAM so, we are hoping you were not even dreaming of running the likes of Call Of Duty or major PC game releases on it.

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By now, you probably can picture yourself and a Chromebook by now. It’s pretty much all about the web. One could say that it is a very strong direction suggesting a possible future of computing but whether you are suited for that future depends on your needs. “Though Chrome OS has been dinged in the past for not being a “full-time OS,” Google’s “pace of improvement”…is ambitious,” says CNET reviews and you may not believe it, but currently, the demand for Chromebooks could match up with Windows 8.

Chrome and Chromium?

To set the record straight about a well known confusion, Chromium is an open source development version of Chrome and just like there is a Chrome browser and a Chrome OS, there’s the Chromium browser and Chromium OS! So here is an easy way out of this for you: “Chromium” is the cutting edge, giant testing environment designed for developers with code that is available for anyone to checkout, modify, and build. So Chromium would of course have a few more professional, developer or administrative options to it than Chrome. We would love to go into the specifics about the two but the bottom line is that apart from the consequences of developer options in Chromium, the user experience in both is practically the same! This is why Chrome OS is what you would find installed on your Chromebook – not Chromium (and that includes both the browser and the OS).

Playing on a whole new field: Here is The Nvidia Shield

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When I encountered the idea of PC gaming coming to a gaming handheld, I thought about all of the possible problems that could come up. Hardware issues would be one and software and memory space could be another. PC games are known to pack more than a punch when it comes to power hardware requirements that affect even power management. How can a handheld possibly deliver exceptional graphical textures and control all of its features in the palm of my hand? Furthermore, not just any PC game – MY PC games – without being just another PlayStation or Nintendo based handheld.

At The CES 2013, Visual computing technology giants Nvidia sought to answer that question with their PC dedicated handheld system called Nvidia Shield which, according to reports, would be available in The United States and Canada by the end of July this year after it was slated for earlier. But is it something indeed to look forward to ?

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The Nvidia Shield will house a 5 inch, 720p (1280X720 @ 294ppi) multi-touch, retinal display touchscreen attached to a game controller. Honestly, it feels so much like an Xbox 360 controller (just bulkier) with an Nvidia home button and a few other design differences. The screen actually looks good till you place it side by side with a full 1080p screen though. So it should make you wonder why you would want this somewhere around your PC screen which could deliver much crispier images. Then again, having a wireless handheld that runs your PC games could prove convenient on specific occasions. It’s got Android too; so you can play tons of available games for Android from Google Play store which seems cool with the touchscreen and controller. 

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It will run the Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system with a custom 72-core Nvidia GeForce GPU, a 1.9GHz quad-core cortex A-15 CPU and 2Gb of RAM. So it’s clear that Nvidia did their best to pack a lot into the hardware. All of these translates to  beautiful graphics that should maintain snappy movements and lag-free gameplay for PC favorites such as Borderlands 2, Batman: Arkham City, Resident Evil 6, Metro: Last Light, Dishonored and others.

As at now, not just any game can be streamed to the Nvidia Shield. Only selected games on Steam, the online multiplayer communications platform can be played via PC streaming with 802.11n-2009 2X2 MIMO wireless connectivity. This aims to provide high-bandwidth and ultra-fast wireless for seamless game streaming so, the Nvidia Shields ability to stream games live from your PC is not the possible issue to contend with. The real issue is that there are PC system hardware requirements that must be met before the device can stream from the PC. Nvidia announced these requirements to be:

  • GPU: GeForce GTX 650 or higher desktop GPU (Notebook GPUs are not supported at this time)
  • CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.8GHz or higher
  • System Memory: 4GB or higher
  • Software: GeForce Experience application and latest GeForce drivers
  • OS: Windows 8 or Windows 7
  • Routers: 802.11a/g router (minimum). 802.11n dual band router (recommended). A list of recommended routers will be provided at launch.

Nvidia will use the H.264 encoder built into GeForce GTX 650 or higher GPU along with special streaming software integrated into an upcoming version of GeForce Experience to stream games from the PC to the gaming handheld over the user’s home Wi-Fi network with ultra-low latency. Gamers will now be able to use the Nvidia Shield as the controller and display for their favorite PC games as well as for Steam Big Picture; enabling gamers to get a GeForce GTX PC gaming experience anywhere in their home Wi-Fi network.

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Besides its wireless abilities, the Nvidia Shield will feature mini-HDMI output port, micro-USB 2.0, a MicroSD storage slot and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with microphone support. It will also have 16Gb internal flash memory, a 3-Axis gyroscope and accelerometer. It boasts of a rather good battery life lasting for about 20 hours  while streaming.

As a gaming handheld with such abilities, do not expect the game to come for cheap (it’s announced to be at $349) so low end PC users who have not yet met (and don’t exactly plan to meet) the PC system requirements would be buying an Android device with an Xbox lookalike controller for quite a lot of money. Surely, mobility does come with a price but playing the games only in one’s house or around it using a wifi connection is not really the idea of mobility to many. The Nvidia Shield is indeed a daring new entry on a new field and we are more than excited to see how this entry influences technology today.

A “dysfunctional” prank: Microsoft Office for iOS

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This is really no joke. There is now a full blown Microsoft Office App for the iOS. The rumors have finally ended –  it exists. Now where do we go from here? Yes! As you probably guessed –  back to the apps you were using earlier to run your document creation / editing needs.

It looked promising to us at first (to be honest). No one could help but wonder how Microsoft was planning to place the Office on the iPad. After all, the app would have to impress a lot more than the forefront document editing apps such as Google Drive, Documents-To-Go and Quickoffice as well as a host of others. With the numerous sync properties these apps have over cloud services, and various desktop experience offline features, we were hoping to have the Redmond software giants deliver something, maybe not above and beyond what we have seen, but something different anyway.

Well at least we did get something different. The problem of course, is what we got.

First and most important to mention is the fact that to use it, you need a paid Office 365 subscription. This is the “ah-hah!” light bulb moment: there had to be a catch about why Microsoft would go ahead to make Office available on “enemy territory.” Then again, that also tells you how serious Microsoft is about making bucks out of every single opportunity available. Now, before you Office 365 subscribers get on to get the app, you might also want to know that it is currently restricted to the United States (although there are ways around that), and annoyingly, there is not yet a version for the iPad.  In plain English, the app is designed for paid Office 360 users in The United States who have an iPhone. So don’t let the free Microsoft Office app on Apple Store fool you if you do not meet up to these requirements.

There are a number of things one would wonder about concerning this and we would leave you with one. The only thing Microsoft could possibly boast of, in our opinion, is that “Documents look like the originals, thanks to support for charts, animations, SmartArt graphics and shapes. When you make quick edits or add comments to a document, the formatting and content remain intact.” But free cloud based office apps like Google Drive already allow you to access and create documents, presentations and spreadsheets in Microsoft Office format. Even paid for offline apps such as Documents-To-Go and Quickoffice even have several cloud based service sync abilities with the likes of Evernote, Dropbox, SugarSync and others.

So um… why do we need this exactly?

iOS 7: A brand new look

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We don’t know if there is anyone like us out there but whenever we update iOS to a new firmware, We have always secretly wished for and ultimately been pissed at the lack an important feature that usually makes things seem new and exciting with software such as operating systems: A COMPLETE VISUAL MAKEOVER!!

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Microsoft Windows at one time used Windows 95 and then at the release of Windows XP, the new looking interface was a winner. Windows Aero was released with Windows Vista and has been a continued standard even with the newest Metro interface for Windows 8. It is true that functionality and stability are essential, uncompromisable qualities of good operating systems but nobody would complain if a good looking graphical user interface came along with it. Sure! Thanks to jailbreaking, Cydia allows us to make some color (and even complete) theme changes but something new had to come out some time from Apple at least some day-y-y-y! That being said, it’s not like Apple’s iOS actually looks ugly; but maintaining the same general outlook over more than 10 updates and over 5 versions would have to become more or less a tiring rhetoric, a trite expression or well… in plain English… rather boring.

Apple, finally releasing its beta version of iOS7 earlier this month for developers has finally showed us that their new update is none of that. Apple has finally worked at changing just about everything, but like the Windows 8 OS to which iOS 7 is now drawing comparisons, thanks to the bold colors and straight lines, it feels a little too much, too soon. But nevertheless, iOS 7 just for that, is welcome and iOS 7 would be released this fall. From previous experiences, beta versions of Apple software are bound to change a great deal before they get approved for consumer devices. So far so good though; iOS7 has been said to deliver pretty much what we already know about iOS and even more.

There’s a lot of new stuff to love about iOS7. There is now a Control Center which gives you quick access to the controls and apps you have been using. With just a single upward swipe on the screen, the Control Center can also turn toggle Wi-Fi, adjust screen brightness and start a flashlight.

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The Multitasking app-switcher has also been completely revamped with new features. There is a new lock screen, a revisited notification Center, a super-charged Siri, a new, easily-accessed quick settings bar, and pretty much every app you can think of has been revamped and stripped down to its essence. There is the new AirDrop which allows near field communication between iOS devices around. Can somebody shout hallelujah to that? You can finally share photos, videos and contacts using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – but with iOS devices.

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At every level, iOS 7 is a slick revitalization, rejuvenation and resurrection of the core iOS experience. Even Safari gets a brand new look with a refreshed tab view and a unified search field. Safari can also suggest passwords for you but we sincerely wonder how much use that would be. The music and photo apps have also been revisited to make things more exciting and savvy. iOS 7 will not be compatible with iPhone 3gs as expected but will for the newer models inclusive of iPhone 4.

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For those who may have seen a link to download the beta version and cannot wait to have a go at Apple’s latest makeup session would have to be careful. This version of iOS 7 is intended only for installation on development devices registered with Apple’s Developer Program and attempting to install this version of iOS in an unauthorized manner could put your device in an unusable state, which could necessitate an out of warranty repair. And even though there are posts out there that mention a possibility of downgrading to iOS 6, on our opinion, we would recommend you DO NOT do the upgrade till the final version is released; unless you are a part of the Apple Developer Program.

128GB iPad is real!

2012-ipad2-gallery1-zoom If you have ever thought about or heard about a 128gb tablet? Well, one of that is now available and guess what? It’s an iPad!

Technology giants Apple have played their 128gb iPad 4 with retina display last week which did not have too much of a blast-off release like the iPhone 5 or the iPad mini but is sure to keep everyone, except a shopaholic I guess, thinking about a number of things for a while.

With the wifi only version for $799 and the LTE version sold for $929, it is clear that this is the most expensive price on an iPad till date – maybe even for a tablet so far. Even though the 128gb solid state drive is quite appealing, there really isn’t too much else that we have not seen before. Barely a couple of months ago, the iPad 3rd generation (a.k.a the new iPad) was harshly replaced with a new iPad 4 with a chip twice as powerful as the earlier and the new “lightning” port. Between the transition from a 16gb iPad 3 till this new release has come another iPad, and even another type of iPad called the iPad mini. All in a space of about a quarter of a year.

Like was earlier mentioned, it’s really nothing else but the storage upgrade. The Apple AppStore actually does own an extremely large collection of applications to keep anyone’s Apple device busy; and maybe the space update would serve enterprises, educators and professionals who need space for capacity consuming content. However, with a price tag reaching close to a thousand Dollars, even Apple fanatics would have to admit that this might be… just maybe… a bit too much.

The prevailing thought would most likely be why you would spend all of that when you could get even better hardware and storage space with a laptop or a netbook. Speaking of Apple, the 11″ MacBook Air costs from $999 and it is no news how much power can be invested in a laptop considering that price tag. Is the extra cost really worth it for just extra storage?

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Actually, a 128gb iPad would serve useful for those who wished for more space on their 64gb iPad. I really wouldn’t mind one actually; and neither would you if given the option to buy. That is probably because of the exceptional quality Apple has raised over the years with their rather expensive (but actually nice) range of mobile tablets. Truly, there are other great tablets out there; but an iPad would always be an iPad… almost like in a class of its own.

iOS 6 untethered jailbreak now available!

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If you have been one of the many people crying everyday because you somehow obtained an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch device on iOS 6 and above of which, you could not enjoy the numerous benefits of jailbreaking, dry your tears and read through. iOS 6 has FINALLY been pwned!!

iOS 6 came in with a number of new additions that is actually worth the upgrade. iOS 6 brings “Siri” to the iPad 3rd generation and iPod touch 5th generation, facebook integration, camera improvements, all new UI for AppStore, Music, Calendar, Clocks, Weather and a host of other new things you have always expected to see. A possible jailbreak was anticipated and now it is here!

The very new jailbreak software “Evasi0n” was realeased by team Evad3rs and allows a full iOS 6 untethered jailbreak on the following devices:

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPad 4
  • iPad 3
  • iPad 2
  • iPad mini
  • iPod touch 4
  • iPod touch 5

Evasi0n supports the following iOS firmware versions:

  • iOS 6.0
  • iOS 6.0.1
  • iOS 6.0.2
  • iOS 6.1

And one more thing: it is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac so dont worry. These guys have got you covered no matter your PC operating system.

Ready? You can start by visiting the official website of the Evad3rs: http://evasi0n.com/

Enjoy!