Friday, October 28, 2011

Nokia Kinetic concept phone with flexible display

It's been a busy two days at Nokia World 2011. The next few days will be equally as busy as I will attempt to gather what I have seen in these two days into a nice meaty blog post. Asuming I survive Halloween and my birthday first that is.

But before that here is quick video hands-on on what really blew me away: the Nokia Kinetic concept device with flexible screen. Yes it is working concept phone, courtesy of the mad geniuses at Nokia Research Center. While this technology would not be available for mass production in many years, it is just a small sneak peak into what Nokia has in store for us in the future.

Seriously, I can't wait for this flexible bendable future.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Motorola RAZR preview

Motorola today announced the world version of their newest and greatest - the RAZR. This is the LTE-less version for LTE-less countries like Britain. Like the old RAZR2, the new RAZR runs on Linux but don't be fooled. This baby runs on Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 with a upgrade path to Ice Cream Sandwich six weeks after release. At 7.1mm thickness, it is also the thinnest smartphone, ever.

Read my first extensive hands-on preview on FoneArena.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Android Honeycomb still disappoints

I have been using the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for two weeks now, and while I love the hardware and design of the tablet, I can't say the same about the software. For those who have read my review of the Motorola Xoom, you will know exactly what I mean.

Both Motorola and Samsung has gave their respective tablets the necessary power, in this case a 1 GHz dual core nVidia Tegra 2 SoC and 1GB of RAM. Unfortunately both runs on Android Honeycomb, the Windows Me meets Vista of Android operating systems. The UI is confusing, intimidating and not consistent. Like, why can't I clear all my notifications with a single button? And why are the search button all the way on the top left, the app drawer icon on the top right, the notification bar on the bottom right and the navigation keys on the bottom left? Does Google actually think I like moving my fingers to all four corners? I am not some NBA basketball player with long fingers.

Every single Honeycomb tablet I have tried, from the Motorola Xoom to Asus Transformer Sony Tablet S to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 - all of these has the same performance issues. In fact the lag is so bad that it makes the HP TouchPad looks like a well engineered marvel. It's a real issue that even despite having a tablet in front of me most of the time, I prefer to tweet, check my emails, and even surf the web on my Galaxy S2 phone!

There is also a real lack of tablet optimised apps for Honeycomb. This is Google's issue and they must fix it. We know that they have effectively abandoned Honeycomb. I implore Google to look into fixing these issues, by either optimising Honeycomb or making sure Ice Cream Sandwich works darn well on these first generation tablets with Tegra 2 SoC. Don't go pissing on your early adopters Google or the first thing they do after they ditch you is pick up a Windows 8 tablet.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sony Ericsson XPERIA Ray review

Oh, what's this here, a smartphone that doesn't have a large 4.3" display? Well it is the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Ray. Don't be fooled by the demunitive and petite size. This phone is so smart it eats other larger smartphones for breakfast. In fact, despite having only a single camera module, this phone can take stereoscopic 3D images.

Packing inside that slim 9.4mm plastic and metallic body, the XPERIA Ray has a 1 GHz Snapdragon S-o-C, Adreno 205 GPU, 512MB RAM, Quad band GSM, Tri band 3G, GPS receiver, HDMI out and 8.1 Megapixel backlit sensor AF camera with a fast f/2.4 lens. The 3.3" display has a resolution of 480 x 854 - giving this is pixel density of 297 ppi, only three pixels per inch shy of Apple's definition of a "retina display". All this for £270 unlocked - what a bargain.

Read on my review of the XPERIA Ray on FoneArena and find out what I love about this little fella.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Samsung Story Station 2TB review - a cautionary tale

Last week I asked on twitter about the best harddrive available. I have been out of the whole computer hardware loop for a while I thought I would ask. Normally I would buy Seagate, but was told that their drives reliability has dropped since they bought Maxtor (ugh). I was advised that Samsung harddrives were the way to go by a friend who works in networking. Surely they can't be wrong? So I ordered the 2TB Samsung Story. It was priced only £10 more than the equivalent Seagate, and it looked downright sexy.

Yesterday evening I finally got my hands on the Story. It certainly looks like a great external drive, but who cares about the looks when what's important is the reliability and performance. I plugged it in and started moving my films, music and maps from my laptop onto the drive. I didn't measure the speed, but it wasn't slow. So for the next three hours, I started moving more crap onto the drive. 100GB later, I felt confident that I could start trusting it by moving some pictures too.

All hell broke lose.

I was watching a film on my telly. Despite the loud TV volume, I started hearing a loud clicking sound. Immediately I looked at my PS3 expecting to see a YLOD or something, but after listening carefully I found that it was coming from the new Samsung drive. I immediately turned it off and tried connecting again. No loud clicks this time, but my PC would not see it. I rebooted by PC just in case and still nothing happened. Eventually a drive letter came up and Windows urged me to format the drive. Distressed I connected the drive to my partner's Macbook Air, and even Apple's finest would not see it.

The Samsung drive was dead.

It lasted from 7.15 pm 6 October 2011 to 12.15 am 7 October 2011.

So that's it. That's my review of the Samsung Story 2TB. It's a piece of crap that does not work. In fact looking back at it now, I am glad it crapped out so early. Imagined if I used it for a week, moving more of my precious irreplaceable stuff on it, only for it to die on me. I think I would probably launch a lawsuit or something. I am now faced with the dilemma of returning this dreadful drive to Amazon, along with whatever personal data on it, and trust that they or Samsung dispose of it properly, or keep the broken drive and write off the £80 I paid for it.

Rather than sleeping, I am actually in the process of recovering my files from my laptop. Thanks a lot Samsung. You make great TVs, smartphones, world tallest buildings and even memory cards, but I would never trust my data on one of your sorry harddrives ever again.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Samsung Essential microSDHC card review

Not long ago I received an email proposing that I test a new line of 'indestructible' micro SD memory cards. To be honest I have never come across a micro SD card that has yet to be destroyed and I have been using them for years. SD cards on the other hand are easily killed. Curious I requested they send me one, and two days ago I received it.

The card turned out to be a Samsung branded 8GB class six micro SD card. It looks bog standard and nothing on the packaging claims that it was indestructible, but a quick search later reveals that Samsung does indeed claim that the cards are water proof, shock proof and magnetic proof. The micro SD card does look as classy as Samsung claims, though I do not see how these will affect its usage.

In any case I decided to see if I could kill it. Nobody would ever use their memory card in water - after all, even if the memory card itself was water proof, most devices aren't. There are exceptions of course, but there aren't many. Still I am sure there are times when even I accidentally left them in the washing machine. So that was exactly what I did - leaving it inside a pocket (but making sure it is zipped so as I don't lose it!), I left our Bosch washing machine to do its worst - a one hour 30C cycle and a couple of spins at 1200 rpm.

Needless to say the blessed card survived the arduous cycle of being trapped in a washing machine. Not giving up, I attempted to kill it by placing it between two fridge magnet but to no avail. Finally I gave it a few stamping but it wasn't enough to kill it. At the end of the day I decided that the little blighter had put up a good fight and spare it further physical abuses. It was time to check out how it performs.

The Samsung 8GB micro SDHC card here is graded as a class six card, which means it has to be able to offer a minimum of 6MB/s write speed. I ran it through a benchmarking application, and delightfully found that the write speed was averaged at 10.5MB/s. That's equivalent to a class ten card. On the other hand I found the read speed to be disappointing, only capable of around 17.8MB/s, in comparison to a Sandisk card I have which offers a speed of 49MB/s. Still at 17.8MB/s, the read speed is sufficient enough to stream full HD films comfortably from.

All in all, there is plenty to like about this card. It is available from Memory Card Zoo for a not too bad but could do better £10.79. It is a little on the pricey side (for a 8GB card), but can you really put a price on data reliability? Other brands may offer more value for money, but at least with this you can be assured that your data is in safe hands, uhm, I mean card.