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Gadgets Reviews Smartphones Technology

Smartphone battle: Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone didn’t have the wow factor that we’ve come to expect from new smartphone releases. It was by no means a flop – with retailers ordering more S5s than they did S4s in the 25 days after both phones launched – however it didn’t impress as much as it could have.

The iPhone 6 PlusNow Samsung is back with a shiny new Galaxy S6 – it’s new metal and glass construct means it literally is shiny! – and it has clearly gone out of its way to set a new standard with the S6. For the first time, Samsung have released a phone which in terms of aesthetic build quality, is very similar to that of an iPhone. Also like Apple’s phone’s, Samsung’s latest Galaxy model does not have a removable back, meaning users cannot change the battery or add additional storage.

This is the first time that Samsung and Apple – the two giants of the smartphone world – have made devices which in terms of design and build, are actually pretty similar. That gives us a golden opportunity to compare the two phones spec for spec to determine which is truly the best.

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are practicably identical in terms of tech specs, so for the purpose of this review I’ll be using the S6. Apple’s comparatively priced and sized phone is the iPhone 6 Plus, so that’s what I’ll be comparing the S6 to today – the iPhone 6 Plus versus the Galaxy S6!

Camera

You’d struggle to find a smartphone released these days which doesn’t come with a pretty competent camera. It’s a staple feature that most people have come to expect as standard from a new phone.

Galaxy S6

The Galaxy S6 boasts a phenomenal new 16 mega pixel rear camera, and a 5 mega pixel front facing camera – great for selfies. Speaking of selfies, the S6 is super selfie friendly, as you can take a selfie in loads of ways – pressing the volume buttons, covering the rear facing heart rate monitor with your finger, tapping the screen, or pressing the capture button. The S6 can also film in 4K, which for those who don’t know, is four times better than standard, 1080p HD. The ability to capture up to 120 frames per second (only 60 in HD) is also a handy feature.

iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone’s rear camera is only 8 MP and it’s front camera is just 1.2 MP. The iPhone supports face detection on both it’s front and rear camera’s – as does the S6. The iPhone 6 Plus can also video in sloooow mooootion (see what I did there?) at 60 frames per second in HD, but it trumps the S6 in terms of how slow-mo it can go – an amazing 240 frames per second.

Winner

Camera tests, such as this one, and this one, show that in terms of camera it’s really a no-brainer. The S6 wins hands down. It’s cameras are both able to shoot at higher quality and leave images looking sharper than those produced by the iPhone. So you can make good use of the camera, Samsung has sped the launch up to just over half a second. Double click the home button and within a second you could be taking shots or shooting video – way faster than the iPhone 6 Plus.

Speed

Now lets look at how fast each of the phones is.

Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphoneThe S6 has some very capable hardware behind it, with two physical processors (1.5 GHz and 2.1 GHz) each split into 4 logical preprocessors, the S6 packs a pretty hefty 8 core processor, which is supported by an impressive 3 GB of RAM. The S6 is running Android with Samsung’s (now significantly slimmed down) TouchWiz ‘Disney Layer’ integrated on top. This is much faster, and less bloated than the TouchWiz seen on the S5.

iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 Plus has slightly more modest hardware, with one dual core 1.4 GHz processor, supported by 1 GB of RAM. It’s packed with the latest Apple mobile operating system iOS 8.

Winner

In speed tests, the S6 obliterates the 6 Plus. Despite it’s inferior software, iOS 8 does a really good job of using the iPhone’s limited hardware to get the best performance out of the phone. Whilst it seldom wins speed tests, it’s usually not far behind the S6.

Battery

One of the most important feature’s of any phone is the battery life. There’s no point in having a flashy gadget if you can’t use it because it’s got a shocking battery life. Battery life doesn’t appear to be improving that much, or too rapidly either, and if I want a phone purely for battery life, I’d still use my old Nokia 3510i!

Galaxy S6
Samsung’s S6 has gone backwards in terms of battery life compared to it’s predecessor, the Galaxy S5. GSM Arena ranks the S5 the 16th best smartphone/tablet ever in terms of battery performance; comparatively the S6 with its 2,550 mAh battery ranks a pitiful 46th.

Something to consider regarding the battery of the S6 is that it can charge wirelessly and it supports fast charging and ships with a fast charger. It also supports wireless charging.

A classic Nokia 3510i
Better battery life than all smartphones!

iPhone 6 Plus

On the same GSM rankings the iPhone 6 Plus ranks much better, coming in at 25th position – way ahead of the standard iPhone 6 which ranked a shocking 90th! This is largely thanks to its much bigger 2,915 mAh battery.

Winner

You can talk for up to 20 hours on Samsung’s S6 before it runs out of juice, whilst with Apple’s 6 Plus you’d get an extra 4 hours of nattering. The Galaxy S6 comes in slightly better than the iPhone 6 Plus in terms of web browsing time and video playback however. Ultimately, despite the fact that it’s easier to charge the S6, the 6 Plus has a bigger battery and seems to last longer, so this one’s a win for the iPhone.

Size, capacity, screen and price

Finally I’ll explore a few of each phone’s other features.

Size

The iPhone 6 Plus has dimensions of 158.1×77.8×7.1 mm. The Galaxy S6 is slightly smaller in all dimensions, including depth, where it is 0.3mm thinner than the iPhone; its dimensions are 143.4×70.5×6.8 mm.

Samsung Galaxy S6 and Apple iPhone 6 Plus dimensionsCapacity

Samsung’s flagship phone comes in three sizes, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. Apple’s alternative also comes in 3 sizes, a smaller 16GB, 64GB and a huge 128GB. As I mentioned earlier, neither has expandable memory.

Screen

The iPhone’s screen is 5.5 inches, which is bigger than the Galaxy’s 5.1 inch display. Despite the iPhone’s bigger screen, Samsung wins in terms of pixel density, sporting an impressive 576 PPI, compared to the Apple alternative which has only 401 PPI.

Price

On the day of publishing, the iPhone 6 Plus costed £699 GBP from Apple’s website. This is for a SIM-free, 64GB version with the device. The Galaxy S6 costs slightly less with a SIM-free, 64GB version of the phone costing £640 from Samsung’s website.

The Winner

It has a better camera, it’s faster, it’s smaller, it’s got a better screen and it’s cheaper – how could I not choose Samsung’s Galaxy S6 as the winner. Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus does have a better battery, and it is a very good phone, but it is 6 months older than it’s Samsung rival and despite inferior technology it still costs more. No wonder Samsung has regained the smartphone sales crown.

Samsung have really upped their game with the S6 and that will no doubt cause Apple to up theirs when they release their next phone (expected to be the Apple iPhone 6S) in a few months time.

Categories
Business Media Technology

Vehicle Reversing cameras, a real safety improvement?

Congratulations on a beach

Congratulations Jonny! You have the honour of posting Technology Bloggers 500th article – which is also your 125th! It is also the first post of Technology Bloggers fourth year. (Image Credit)

A car reversing cameraImage Credit
At the end of last month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (USA) finalized long-delayed rules that will require automakers to install back-up cameras in all vehicles by May 2018. This was a long fought battle, the auto makers not wanting to be forced to adapt such measures.

And we must consider the costs, possibly between $500 and $900 million a year, to be borne by the purchaser, manufacturer and of course the state. The legislation is aimed at avoiding death or injury caused when drivers reverse over their own children or the elderly (the main victims in such accidents).

All well and good I say, maybe the rules will save some lives, and we should bear in mind that they did take 10 years to pass. But how many lives will they save?

A Typical view in reverse

We have to bear in mind that auto-mobile manufacturers estimate that upwards of 60% of all cars would have had the technology as standard by 2018, we are talking about the remaining 40%, so an incremental improvement on an already rolling ball. But how many people are killed each year in the USA in accidents of this type?

According to this article, fittingly enough from the Detroit News, 60 to 70 lives a year would be saved if all the fleet had rear view cameras, but of course as stated above 60% would have already had the cameras, so the legislation itself would save about 15 lives a year and save 1300 injuries. But how many injuries and deaths are there a year in the USA?

On average in recently in the USA there have been about 35 000 deaths and more than 2 million injured in motor accidents. According to the US Census Bureau most of those were caused by speeding and alcohol.

Now I would question the rationale of spending the amounts of money required to install cameras in all cars when the number of lives saved is going to be so small. We are talking about between 15 and 25 million dollars per life, when there may be better ways of spending this money and saving more lives.

If we look at the legislation in context, I think there are other questions that need to be asked too. The US government Distracted Driving website offers another bewildering array of statistics and related information, with mobile technology use once more taking the blame for accidents. But we might imagine that it is illegal to text and drive, but it is not in all states. Several states still allow you to send a text message while driving. Texas for example bans texting for bus drivers and novice drivers, and in school areas for everyone, but I can drive and text in Texas perfectly legally. Arizona only bans bus drivers from texting, and in south Carolina there are no rules about using mobile technology while driving.

Although road deaths have come down dramatically in the USA, those related to driver distraction have gone up. This could be related to changes in how the statistics are reported, or might be related to increased usage of mobile devices, I cannot tell that from the data provided in the census.

A table is available here that summarizes the current situation.

As a quick comparison in the UK you can be charged with reckless driving if you are involved in any accident, and texting and hand held telephone use is against the law. If you are eating or drinking however this can also be taken into account, and there is research that suggests that eating and drinking while driving can dramatically slow down reaction time. Check out this article in the Telegraph newspaper.

So I want to ask a serious question about this US legislation that we could ask about a lot of other legislation. Do these new rules really make driving safer, or do they make us feel that we are safer, or do they just make us feel that we are doing the right thing?

I don’t honestly believe that this legislation will really make driving much safer for anyone, although this is of course my own opinion. I am not making light of accidents that involve reversing over children or old people, but there must be plenty of more efficient ways of cutting down road deaths than this (like taking action to deter mobile phone or texting use for example).

Categories
Reviews Smartphones

The Samsung Galaxy S4

This coming Saturday, Samsung’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4, goes on sale.

Smartphone Battles

2009-2012 smartphone market by provider
Global smartphone market share by provider.

Like with most mass market technology, there is a war going on in the smartphone industry. In 2012, according to market analyst firm ICD, Samsung controlled 30.3% of the global smartphone market, 59.5% up on the 19% of the market it controlled the year before.

There is no doubt that Samsung is currently the dominant force in the smartphone market. The firm seems to slowly be winning its battle with Apple, and looks set to take on Google next, with rumours that it soon plans to ditch Google’s Android operating system altogether.

Nokia are predicted to make a comeback (how successful I am unsure) thanks to Windows RT, and makers of BlackBerry, RIM, are also looking stronger in 2013 after the release of BlackBerry 10 earlier this year.

Galaxy S4

Samsung are trying to steal even more of the market from its competitors with the Galaxy S4, so it has pulled out a few stops, maybe not all the stops, but quite a few, to make sure that the phone is a success.

So, the phone has loads of new features, to make it slightly better than its predecessor – the S3.

The S4 has a slightly bigger (5mm to be exact) screen, boasting a whole 5 inches of full HD display, which no doubt gives it amazing clarity. The new phone is also slightly thinner than the S3.

You can buy a Galaxy S4 in black and white, or as Samsung like to call them: black mist and white frost. I have never looked at a phone before (smart or not) and thought “that looks like frost” or mist, but maybe the S4 really does; or maybe it’s just marketing.

Touch and use even with gloves - Samsung Galaxy S4Samsung claim the latest edition of its Galaxy is usable even with gloves on, hopefully reducing the cases of zombie fingers – Jonny, you might be able to use it! 😉

The phone has various other new features, such as Samsung WatchON, which connects your phone to your TV, turning your phone into a remote control.

Another new feature is the multi-speaker capability – if you have more than one handy, you can sync them together to create a better quality of sound.

The S4 will also come with built in 4G compatibility, which the original S3 didn’t. If a fast internet connection is important to you when you are on the go, then the S4 is probably a better choice than the S3.

Eye-Tracking

Probably the most exciting new feature of the Galaxy S4 is the new eye-tracking technology. The phone uses its front camera to monitor the users eye movements, and uses can use this function for a host of different activities.

One of the features which uses the eye-tracking technology is video playback. If you are watching something, and then look away, the device automatically pauses the media for you. Furthermore, eye-tracking technology can be used to scroll up and down a page, without the need to even touch the screen.

Photos

There are two interesting developments in the photographic area of the phone, the first is that you can now add audio snippets to pictures, to enable you to catch even more of the moment. You can also merge video with picture, creating partially animated pictures – sort of like the photographs in the Harry Potter films.

The S4 can also use (and display) the front and rear camera simultaneously, which shows that its quad-core ARM processor is pretty quick!

Your Thoughts

So what are your thoughts on the S4? If you are getting one, do let us know!

Do you think that Samsung have done enough to fend off the competition from its closest rivals?

Personally I think the S4 looks like it is set to become the best smartphone on the market when it goes live at the end of the week.

Categories
Gadgets Reviews

Integral Compact Camera Case Review

It’s been about two weeks since I last posted an article, and to get back into the swing of things, I am going to do a review.

Camera Case Review

The beauty of today’s review, is that it is a case that is suitable for the majority of compact digital cameras. In my most recent case review, I looked at a case for the BlackBerry Curve 8900, which was a great case that I am still using, however it wasn’t a general case for use with all phones, which meant it was more of a niche market product. The camera case I am going to review today, can protect most modern, small and medium sized compact cameras.

Integral Compact Camera Case

Integral camera case and memory cardThe case in question is an Integral Compact Camera Case, which (at the time of purchase) costs £16.99 GBP. You might be wincing at the price already, as you can pick up a reasonably good camera case for just a few pounds these days. So what makes this case special?

As you would expect, the case is secure. The case has a strong zip, with two metal pull tab sliders, so you can open and close the case with ease.

Inside the case, there is an additional storage pocked. I use it to store the batteries, although you can use it for anything really, a spare memory card, credit cards, whatever you like really.

The case feels very firm, yet the inside is softer to ensure that your camera doesn’t get damaged. I think the case would be better were it to have slightly more padding on the inside, as it is a multi-camera case, small cameras could potentially break easier, as the case is fairly roomy.

The case has a belt loop and a strap, so you can either wear it over your arm, attach it to your belt, or carry it in your pocket.

Compact camera case and strap

Additional Features

A fantastic additional add-in that comes with the case is a 16Gb SDHC memory card. Most compact digital cameras now support SDHC , and 16GB is a lot of photos! On one of its best settings, my camera can take around 4,000 photos, which is a lot! The memory card has a transfer speed of up to 20Mb per second, which is pretty fast, meaning that when taking photos, and downloading them to your PC, the memory card shouldn’t ever slow you down.

Overall I really like the case, it is simple and does the job of protecting my camera well. It is easy to carry around, and is reasonably sturdy, so that were I to drop it (not that I plan to) I think it should protect my device. 🙂

The camera case used in this review was provided by Love Cases, who have asked us to point you in the direction of their camera cases, so if you liked this review, you know where to get a case!

Categories
News Smartphones Technology

An analysis of the iPhone 5

Is is nearly 3 months since the 6th incarnation of Apple’s iconic iPhone, the iPhone 5, was released. Often I think it is more interesting to discuss a technology a few months after its release, rather than just straight away, as faults have been exposed, and there are opinions about long-term use.

In this article I am going to explore what the critics think of the iPhone 5, the good, the bad and the faulty!

So what makes the iPhone unique from any other phone? Samsung would argue very little, because as soon as Apple’s latest smartphone was released, Samsung announced that it was filing a lawsuit against Apple, because it had infringed many of its patents.

Size and Weight

The iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 is bigger than its predecessor (the iPhone 4S). It is taller, the same width, and slightly thinner. When smartphones first hit the market, there seemed to be a race to make them smaller. Now however, the trend seems to be towards developing a bigger screen. Tablets are getting smaller and smartphones are getting bigger – will the two ever merge? I think they might, so watch this space!

Despite being bigger, the latest model is 28g lighter than the previous model, weighing an amazing 112g. Considering the technology inside the device, that is an impressive weight!

Camera

The pace of development of inbuilt cameras in mobile phones is staggering. The iPhone 5 has an 8 megapixel camera, which is very competitive considering that just a few years ago, 8MP was pretty good for a digital camera – which isn’t also a phone.

Reception

One of the main criticisms of the iPhone 5 is that it has stopped being a phone. Logically the primary purpose of a smartphone should be to call and text people, browsing the internet, using apps, taking pictures and other features are optional extras, and shouldn’t be the main function of the device. That said, there have been many reports about people finding that the iPhone 5 has really bad signal problems. I know of two people who are on the same network, one with a Samsung Galaxy S III and one with an iPhone 5. The person who owns the Galaxy can almost always get signal, whilst the person who owns the iPhone can’t. When the phones are in the exact same place, the Samsung device can get signal, but the Apple device can’t.

Speed

Because of all the new features of the phone, it needs to have a good processor, and it does. There was hope that it might have a quad-core processor, which it didn’t, however it does have a pretty good A6 processor, which is very speedy, and is what makes the iPhone 5 feels quick and slick. Match that performance with the 4-inch Retina display, and you have a very fast and flashy phone!

Siri

Siri has seen a few updates, but nothing major. The initial introduction of Siri in the iPhone 3GS was revolutionary, and there is still relatively little viable competition out there for Siri, however one expects an iPhone to come with Siri these days.

Maps

The iPhone 5 was the first phone released by Apple with iOS 6 – which had Apple Maps installed. Apple Maps is Apple’s own version of Google Maps, which has replaced Google Maps on the operating system.

Some of the navigation features have been praised, as having better clarity and being more useful than the Google alternative; especially due to the inbuilt Siri compatibility.

That said, there are major issues with Apple Maps, in that it can be really inaccurate. Australian police have actually advised people against using the software, after they had to rescue motorists stranded in the wilderness of a national park who were trying to find a city, which Apple Maps thought was in the middle of the the wilderness, not where it should have been!

Many places are not where they are meant to be, some just a few miles out, others quite a lot further! One example is Berlin. You know, that city in Germany. The capital city of Germany. Well according to Apple Maps, Berlin is on the continent of Antarctica, which isn’t only the wrong continent, but also the wrong hemisphere! Have a search for Apple Maps fails, and you get some pretty funny results!

Berlin, Antarctica - Apple Maps
Apple Maps really does think that Berlin is in the Antarctic!

Awards

The iPhone 5 isn’t short of awards. The phone is top of Time Magazine’s top 10 gadgets list 2012, which is a big achievement!

Sales of the phone are something else for Apple to celebrate. In the first three days of the phone being on sale, there were 5 million sales! That is 1 million more than the iPhone 4S got in its first three days.

Your Thoughts

Do you own an iPhone 5? If so, what do you think of it? Do you like the phone and iOS 6, it it revolutionary, or was it a waste of money?

Categories
Media Technology

A look into the technology used in live television

Around the world billions of people watched the Olympic Games last month. In this article I am going to explore the technology that is used in order to get the live action, be it aquatics, basket ball or shooting, from the event, onto our TV screens.

Live TV is a little different to recorded television. With recorded television, it has often been carefully chopped up and edited before it hits our screens. With live TV, the luxury of being able to remove mistakes isn’t there, as too much a delay would mean events were actually not live. There are a few seconds of delay between real events and what you see on your TV screen, like their is with radio, however this isn’t enough time for any extensive editing.

So imagine we are watching the men’s Olympic 100 metres final. Usain Bolt lines up along with two other Jamaicans, three Americans, a Trinidadian man and a Dutch man. The starters pistol blows and then what?

Well there is a lot more video broadcast equipment involved than you might think!

The Camera

The first part of the chain is the cameras. These capture all the events first hand. At an event like the Olympics, there will usually be tens, and sometimes hundreds of cameras, and a good broadcaster will always try to keep them out of shot of each other – so you don’t get a camera panning to a shot which features another camera in it!

The camera may be free standing, or it could be on a dolly or a jib. A camera dolly is effectively a track that the camera sits on, so that it is able to move smoothly to capture moving action. A jib is a device which has a camera on one end and a counterweight on the other. A jib allows a camera to be moved freely around an area. When you see a swooping style shot on television, that will usually have been achieved by a jib.

A camera on a track
A camera dolly

The camera will have various different wires coming out of it which will ultimately lead to a monitor. Behind the monitor will be a director who decides how and where the camera is to move to get the best shot.

The Mixing Desk

The camera will then link into a mixing desk, which in a live event like the Olympics will usually be in a really big, extremely technical looking van. Inside the van will have a number of operators choosing which of the hundreds of buttons to press, and which shot should be used – don’t forget there will be loads!

This van will control the stream of visual and audio footage that is send to TV sets across the area, country and possible the world. Sometimes the format of the stream may have to be changed. To do this a digital media streamer is usually used. To see an example of what a digital media streamer looks like, have a look at the Sencore website – under the Signal Sources tab.

Once the finalised stream is ready, a great big satellite dish on top of the van (the one with the mixing equipment inside) will transmit the stream to a satellite high up above the earth.

The Satellite

The satellite then sends the signal to all the local masts where the stream will be broadcast from. These masts are usually called television masts and are often really tall thin metal structures with a flashing red light on top – to warn passing aircraft.

Your House

The television masts are transmitting the signal far and wide, and your areal on your roof will pick up this signal. It will then pass down the wires in your house and after an exchange box reach your TV, where thanks to either LEDs, plasma, or some other means, you will see Bolt steam to victory!

If you have a satellite dish the process is slightly different as you receive the feed directly from the satellite. Also if you have a portable aerial, you bypass all the wires in your house.

So, that is how a live event reaches your TV screen, and it does all of that in less that 30 seconds. Pretty amazing don’t you think?

Categories
Blogging How To Guides Internet

How to find images for your website

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a DIY approach to building your website. If you choose the right tools *cough* WordPress *cough* you can produce something that looks very professional without having to know web design in an out.

As with Creative Commons images, always check the usage rights of every image cautiously. You might be required to credit the photographer, or use may be forbidden in some situations.

Creative Commons Logo

Purchase cheap stock photography

It is all well and good looking for free pictures, but it’s often easier to invest a small amount of cash than to spend hours finding the right totally free image.

That is where websites like iStock Photo and ShutterStock come in. These vast repositories include thousands of pictures, most of which you can buy for just a few pounds. Sure, they can be frustratingly clichéd at times, but a bit of experimentation with what you search for can generally get outcomes. Expect to pay from £1 upwards for each image.

Ask permission

This is most likely your best option if you are looking for an image of a current occasion or specific individual to use with an article or blog post on your web site. Amateur photographers are often pleased to let their photos be utilised at no charge – if you ask nicely.

A good method to find pictures is through Flickr. For example, there are many David Cameron and Tom Cruise pictures to select from. As soon as you’ve found a photo you like, just use Flickr’s contact choice to send the photographer a message asking their permission.

Do be wary using photos of well-known individuals – whilst generally it’s okay to use them alongside news stories and other editorial, you will get in difficulty if it looks like they’re endorsing your item or service.

Take your own photos

With even cheap mobile phones able to create reasonable-quality pictures, you don’t have to be a pro to capture photos that are good enough for the web.

Even though the company is in all sorts of difficulty, you will find some good suggestions for taking better photos on the Kodak website.

Assuming you already own a camera, this method is practically free – and it holds other benefits more than stock pictures. For example, do you think website visitors would prefer to determine a generic image of someone on the telephone, or an actual member of your sales team at function in your workplace?

How do you discover photos for your website? Leave a comment to let us know.

Categories
Gadgets News Tablets

What makes the new iPad different?

The launch of Apple’s latest third generation iPad, the interestingly named ‘The new iPad’, sees more revolutionary technological developments, as Apple updates its iconic tablet. In this article I am going to explore some of the exciting and innovative new features, which make the new iPad stand out from the crowd.

Retina Display

One enhancement that is currently getting a lot of attention is the innovation that is the new ‘Retina display’ technology.

The Retina display focuses on the increased clarity of large format display visuals. The new iPad features a sharply improved image capability which now has a 2048×1536 resolution screen and 44% improved colour saturation, with a superior 3.1 million pixels, within in its 9.7 (24.6com) display. Pretty impressive for a tablet PC.

The third generation of the iPadThis technology means that from normal viewing distance, the naked human eye cannot detect any pixelation, as the screen produced images with outstanding sharpness, colour detail and quality.

The improved display really enhances the viewing experience, and I think that it has set Apple ahead of its competitors, in terms of the quality of screen, at least for the time being.

The tablet is designed to show HD media, and with its new awesome screen quality, the viewing of text, photo and video is to the next level!

5MP iSight Camera

Aside from the Retina update, another key improvement is the 5-megapixel iSight camera – Apple are very creative with their names! The new camera features enhanced optics, auto white balance and a face detection features, turning your tablet into an outstanding digital camera. These updates have significantly improved the  picture and video capture performance. Match that with the new Retina display, and it means that you can capture and play media in outstanding quality.

Wi-Fi and 4G

In the latest model of the iPad, Apple have inbuilt Wif-Fi + 4G technology. This technology helps ensure the tablet is able to get a fast network connection, so you can get a seamless uninterrupted stream. Streaming online video is smoother than ever, and VoIP becomes a more viable method of communication.

Battery Life

Despite the outstanding screen display, the high quality camera, and the improved connectivity, something which many critics believe has let the new iPad down is its battery life. Like its predecessors, the new iPad can only handle 10 hours of media before it runs out of juice. The new features have been designed to be more efficient, however the battery life remains pretty much the same as before. Disappointing, or to be expected?

This latest release of the iPad has given techies a lot to be excited about, which is probably why many people queued for hours to get their hands on one, as soon as they were released.

Categories
Gadgets Reviews

SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset – Review

Previously I have reviewed the Pocket Boom, a cool little device which can turn virtually any device into a speaker. Recently the same people asked if I wanted to review a SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset, so here I go!

Please note, like with the Pocket Boom Review, all the opinions in this article are mine, and are completely honest – I am not being paid to write this review.

The SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset is a device which provides wireless headphones, which can synchronise with almost any Bluetooth device. This means that when you are out and about, you can take calls, and listen to music, without the limits of wires.

SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Headset in packaging

Ergonomics

The headset very cleverly folds away quite neatly, which does mean that they can fit into your pocket without much of a problem, meaning they are portable, like you need them to be.


SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Headset folded away
The headphones when they are folded up would fit in your pocket

So, are the headphones comfortable to wear? My answer would be it depends who you are. I have tried them on, and I have got other members of the team and some of my friends to try them on, and the responses you get are mixed. Some people have no trouble whatsoever, the headset fits snugly onto their head, and are very comfortable to ware. Other people have tried them on, and they do fit, they are just a bit more awkward. Maybe that’s something you might want to consider – especially as they are not retractable/adjustable.

Ease of Use

Like with the Pocket Boom, if you don’t read the instructions, you aren’t going anywhere very fast! Read what the small A5 (ish) sheet of paper tells you, and things become pretty simple.

With some phones you need to fiddle with some settings either with Bluetooth, or on audio tracks to get them to work properly with calls and music, but it does work!

Sound Quality

Obviously one of the most important things with all headphones is the sound quality. You can get the most amazing headset, but if it has poor sound quality, then there is little point to it.

So what about the quality of the audio stream produced by the SD10 Bluetooth headset? Well it is actually very good! The headphones fit very snugly around your ears, reducing any noise interference, and the audio quality is very respectable.

Obviously noise cancelling headphones, or recording studio ones would be better, but the quality is very respectable, especially as it is coming from a wireless stream. For the average music listener, I don’t think there is any need to worry about poor sound quality.

Instructions

The headphones do come with instructions, which are clear, and just require a small amount of common sense and logic to use. They are helpful, but could contain a little more info – possibly room for an FAQ’s section.

The SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Headset packaging, instructions USB cable and headphones
The headset, along with packaging, instructions and USB lead

Power

From what I have seen of the headset, it seems to last a reasonable amount of time between charges. You don’t start listening to a tune, and then a call comes in, by which time the headset has given up and is needing a charge. The battery life seems to be pretty good, so no need to worry about that.

The issue I have with power is the way you charge the headset – via USB. You can only charge it via USB, and there is no alternative, no batteries you can replace etc. This can be a little inconvenient, especially as it doesn’t come with a USB plug adaptor, but I am sure it will work okay with the one I use for my iPod, or the one I use for my camera. Don’t take my word for that, I wouldn’t want to blow your headset – if you have one or are getting one!

Value for Money?

Here comes the killer question: is the SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset value for money? I try to evaluate every product I review using value for money, so it is a good test. The headset retails at £24.99, which is reasonable, but I think it depends what you need it for. If you are going to be making calls wireless and listening to music, go for it. If you just want to listen to music (like me) then I am not so sure. There are different headphones more suited to music listeners, but this set does give you the added bonus of being able to make calls.

SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth HeadphonesInterested in buying a set, or just want to read a bit more? Check out the SoundWear SD10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset on Mobile Fun’s website.

As I said at the beginning of the article, this product has been sent to Technology Bloggers to review. Our thanks to Mobile Fun who provided us with the headset.

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Computers How To Guides Internet

How to choose the right laptop for you

After my recent post on how to be a smart online buyer, I thought why just help people get a good priced product, as a good price doesn’t always mean good value.

As a laptop is something most people probably buy online, and as it is also something that often costs a lot of money, I thought why not help people choose which is best for them. Maybe in the future I will do the same for mobile phones, digital cameras and who knows what else!

What is it going to be used for?

The main thing you have to work out is what is the laptop going to be used for? Do you need something that can cope with 3D HD gaming, or are we just looking at text editing, emails and the web?

The more you want to be able to do with your laptop, the greater ability it will need to have, meaning that it is more likely to need a higher spec, and therefore probably a more costly speck.

I only really use the internet

If most of the stuff you do is online, then you probably don’t need a very high spec laptop – just a good internet connection. If you laptop is mainly used for blogging using an online system like WordPress, Blogger or TypePad, playing your favourite online games, typing emails using an online webmail service, and socialising using Facebook and Twitter (I should point out other social media sites are available ;-)) then you might want to look into Chromebooks – or low spec laptops.

The Google Chrome LogoGoogle says that Chromebooks are ‘nothing but the web.’ They run a 100% cloud based operating system, meaning that all your data, settings etc. are stored online, safe and secure in the cloud. This means they only take secconds (literally 8 or 9) to boot up, meaning you are off and working/playing in an instant.

Here is how Google describes Chromebooks:

“Chromebooks are built and optimised for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So, you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers.”

Chromebooks are very fast as they need no virus protection, have no background processes slowing them down, neither does it need updates, since all of that happens in the cloud, basically everything runs from the browser.

If you don’t want a Chromebook, you probably only need a really low spec laptop, so that could be very cheap. Regarding operating system, if you like pretty styles, then go for Windows7, as that it stable and also ‘looks good’ avoid Vista, especially on low spec laptops, as it can really slow them down – XP and 2000 are also good.

It’s going to be a family laptop

If you are looking for a typical family laptop, where some of the kids will want to play flash games, but they will also need to do their homework, and the adults want to be able to check their emails and social profiles for updates, then you are probably going to be looking for a pretty standard PC.

To make sure it is quick and doesn’t slow down you would probably benefit from a dual-core processor. Dual-core means that the computer possess more than one CPU. Extra CPU’s means that you can process data faster, therefore your laptop will run quicker.

In order for your extra CPU’s to be effective, it would be a good idea to have at least 1 gigabyte (gb) of RAM, and preferably 2.

Windows7 would be perfect for family usage, as would XP. 2000 may look and feel a little dated, and Vista is likely to cause you a lot of grief!

I edit photos and run games and watch online media

If you like to have a lot open, and often are found editing photos, playing CPU intensive games, and watching HD videos, then you probably need a pretty powerful processor, along with a decent sized hard disk, a good amount of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card. Screen display resolution is also likely to be important, as if you like HD, but have only a standard screen, you can’t display HD.

Intel make a type of processor called i3 and another called i5. These are very well designed processors and run very well. If you see i3 or i5 on a PC, it is probably going to be a good one. Photo editing and gaming can be very hard disk space hungry tasks, so I would recommend getting at least a 250gb (preferably a 360gb) hard disk. With a laptop, short of getting an external hard drive, there is no easy way of expanding the amount of space you have.

This type of user would benefit best from 4gb of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card – this basically means that the graphics card is a separate component within the PC, which has it’s only memory and processing unit.

I do all of the above and more, and I do it all at the same time!

If you can never seem to find a laptop that is powerful enough for you there are a few options available to you – sadly, they area all rather expensive ones!

The first would be to get a powerful MacBook. MacBooks are notorious for their high specs, stable operating systems and therefore lack of time spent loading.

The second would to be to buy a quad-core i7 spec laptop. Most MacBooks run off core i5 and i7 processors anyway, however Windows also performs very well when being run on a core i7 machine.

The intel Core i7 proccessor badgeA dedicated graphics card is a must for this type of user, and 4-8 gig of RAM is recommended. Depending on how long you want to keep your laptop will determine how big your hard disk will need to be. My advice would be that if you are likely to want to keep the same laptop for any more that 4 or 5 years, get a terabyte hard disk.

Another option would be to have a custom built laptop. These can sometimes work out cheaper, but you need to be cautious, as if you, or whoever is building the laptop aren’t 100% sure of what’s what, then you could face compatibility issues.

Certain processors work better with certain types of RAM, certain operating systems require certain types of graphics cards, and certain hard disks are needed in order to be compatible with the rest of the machine. Basically certain part of the laptop will naturally work well together, however if you custom build your laptop, you might have 8gb of RAM, but the problem is, your processor finds it hard to deal with that type of RAM.

Other things to consider

When choosing a laptop, it is also important to consider things like who it’s made by. Different firms have different reputations for the quality of their laptops, but also consider the quality of their customer service. If their automated calling systems drive you mad, then it may be wise not to buy one of their laptops.

Furthermore, consider your other devices like cameras and phones when buying a new laptop. Some devices may not be compatible with your operating system, or you may need to get some new camera cables if your current devices can’t plug in to your new laptop.

Connectivity is another important factor: does your laptop have inbuilt Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or infrared? If you are forever connecting to mobile Wi-Fi, or your phone to download pictures, then it would be useful to have such functions inbuilt.

An inbuilt webcam and microphone can be very handy if you are often using programmes like Skype to talk to friends on the internet.

Also don’t forget the battery. If you barely use your laptop when you are away from a plug, then the battery is probably not of much importance to you, however if your laptop battery is important to you, you may want to avoid second hand laptops. Laptop batteries from second hand machines can often be less powerful and last less time than a normal battery would.

The right laptop for you

Getting the right laptop for you can be crucial in making sure that you get value for money, as a laptop with spare capacity is a waste of money, as is a laptop that cannot perform to the standard you need.

If you need any more help in choosing the right laptop for you, drop a comment below 🙂