Sunday, 23 of November of 2014


Category » Reviews

Android leads the Competition in Mobiles as Of Now

Google’s Android OS is continuing to dominate the market and is snubbing the growth rate of Apple and Blackberry phones.  IDC, a research firm found that Apple’s global share went down to as low as 13.2% while that of Android run phones rose to 79.3%. The jump is also not very good for Blackberry whose software share accounted only for 2.9% compared to 4.9% last year.

The best profiteer of Android’s success has been Samsung. Android has helped Samsung to become the number one smartphone maker and seller. In fact, Samsung smart phones are selling in record numbers in the U.S. The OS, developed by Google, has also helped companies like Lenovo and Huawei strengthen their presence.

Google, On the other hand uses the Android OS to make money through advertising. All in all, it becomes a win-win situation for both Google as well as the Smartphone maker using Android technology.

So, what does Android hold for us in the near future.

Well, the smartphone Industry is pegged to be worth more than $210 billion  with the competition becoming much more intense. Last year, both Apple and Samsung fought out each other in the U.S courts regarding copyrights and patent infringement. With features like GPS and internet widely accessed by the populace today through their smartphones, it does seem that Android will be the popular choice for people in the next few years to come. Of course, Windows phones launched by Nokia have become a success lately, however it pales in comparison to other Android devices.

According to recent statistics, the number of Android users have seen an exponential growth in the last few years – like the fad for website designs for mobiles has increased. Apple’s iPhones, on the other hand, are costly and deliver less, according to experts. More importantly, Apple’s recent decisions since the demise of Jobs have not gone down very well with its loyal base. One instance being the launch of iPad 4, within 6 months from the release of iPad 3. The other, of course being, Apple’s u-turn when they said they will never release a smaller device like the Kindle Fire as it won’t have a viable demand and eventually releasing the iPad Mini, forced by the great market demand for such devices.


Google Glass will Not Recognize Faces Yet

            In answer to privacy concerns, Google has promised that it will not endorse any apps for its new Glass that have facial recognition. According to an anonymous Google spokesperson, this decision will be in effect until strong privacy controls will be developed.

            The privacy issue of facial recognition was in the focus of some recent debates, some people expressing interest towards it, but many more expressing concern at the possible misuses of such technology. This is in line with other privacy issues addressed to the tech giant, not limited, but quite strongly focused on its new Glass. Many people already felt uncomfortable with a device that could be constantly recording all what its owner can see, completely changing the rules in protecting citizen’s privacy.

One of the most important applications of such software could be advertising, the field where Google is strongest. With such technology it would be possible to make signs that can recognise who walks past them and show them targeted advertising. While being identified as, let’s say, a middle aged woman might not be too bothering yet, being identified by name and all available personal information could be quite a serious issue.

While Google’s decision is quite reassuring, it cannot be forgotten that there are other competitors who can tap into this possibility without moral concern. With the spread of Glass the apps will also become more diverse and people may also misuse the possibilities on their own.

Such issues will be more and more in the focus with the spread of technology, and society will have to find a solution that works. But for now, we can leave anxiety aside.

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Office 2013 Finally Available For Free Download And Preview

Just when everybody was getting impatient to see what was becoming of the latest Office (code named Office 15), Microsoft decided to release the app suite for an official Public Preview. Called Office 2013, we first caught glimpses of it during a presentation that showed how Excel would look running on an ARM tablet. And a few quick snaps was all the information we had up until now. Office 2013 became available on Monday and we have gone hands on with the entire suite.

Overview

Microsoft has worked hard to make Windows RT a good case for replacing laptops and tablets and Office 2013’s touch abilities will go a long way in to making that claim more solid and appealing to the working masses. Office 2013 is really tablet and touch friendly.

And if you didn’t anticipate it — it is all about cloud integration from this version onwards. Cloud syncing, sharing and syncing of all custom preferences and sharing. SkyDrive naturally is at the fore front here, as all the syncing and sharing is done via the proprietary cloud from Microsoft just like the rest of Windows 8.

Click here to read original Office 2013 review.

Appearance

If you have worked on any of the latest versions of Office, you will be comfortable working on Office 2013. The interface has remained quite the same, with the ribbon UI intact and well. It is hidden by default but then you can change that whenever you want.

Office 2013 also displays your account name and photo wherever you are in the app. This serves the dual purpose of confirming that you are indeed logged in and syncing to your account and to show you that you are logged in to the right account or that you need to log in to your own account. Since it is all cloud based now, it is important that you sync everything to one single account.

 

Interactions

Office 2013 is the same at first glance but then you can easily change it to become touch friendly by switching on the Touch Mode. There’s a button that looks like a circle with a dot in the middle, which can be found under the downward arrow on the upper left corner. This is the same control that toggles your hidden icons. Once you trigger touch mode, not much happens. Things just space out a bit to make way for a finger driven control set up. The UI becomes somewhat flatter and menus especially so, just so that it is easier to navigate through. You will not see sudden bits of Metro appearing all over the UI. It prevents you from getting disoriented and helps you maintain your workflow even after transitioning in to Touch Mode.

Office 2013 cloud sync

Office 2013 cloud sync

 

The Cloud

Microsoft has been all about integrating things in to the cloud of late and Office 2013 is no different. Just like Windows 8, Office 2013 is completely plugged in to SkyDrive and the result is a fully connected suite of applications that are profile aware and are able to change in to the custom set up of the currently logged in user.

All your documents are stored on SkyDrive by default (you do still have local copies available). The integration is deeper than last time and all your changes and progress is synced in real time. A progress bar show you how much has been synced up. Surely there will be plug ins developed for a similar integration with DropBox and Google Drive at some point. But since your profile is synced to SkyDrive, it makes more sense to stick to the default. Especially if you are one of the lucky ones who got a free 25GB storage space (or you intend to buy space on SkyDrive).

Cloud syncing also paves way for better syncing. You can now go to the file menu and choose “Get Link” to share a copy of the document with someone or choose “Invite People” to start collaborating on the document. The others don’t have to have their own copies of Office 2013 because they will be able to use the web apps. You can also do the usual sharing by email or via social networks from within Office itself.

Office also works better at integrating online content in to your document. You can now directly log in to Facebook and Flickr and pull images from there. The apps now also support direct embedding of videos through HTML code, the likes of which are provided by YouTube and Vimeo when you want to embed videos somewhere. There’s also a Live Layout feature that adjust text and wraps it around your image, shape, chart, video, etc.

Cloud syncing also makes sure that you are carrying your custom settings, custom dictionaries and your documents with you wherever you are going. When you log in to the system, all your settings, custom dictionaries are there and your documents are in the exact state as you last left them. This means even your cursor will be in the same position as you had last left it. This is true for every Office app, so no more lost presentation or excel sheets because you got shut down halfway through your work. Saving happens automatically and in the background.

 

Availability

Microsoft’s Office 2013 is available only to the users of Windows 8 and Windows 7. The decision to exclude Windows Vista and Windows XP has got to a lot with the need to make users upgrade to the latest version so that they can have access to the latest features like full cloud integration. The general availability will be around October and will be available in retail packages unlike Windows 8.

 

Conclusions

Office 2013 is too large to get it all in to one single broad review, so will go deeper in to each application and review them individually. There are in fact some very important improvements in Excel that make life easier for users by making certain repetitive tasks simpler.

The latest Office is has no drastic change and that’s the best part. It has enough changes to make sure that your Office experience will change for better but it is still similar enough to smoothen out the transition and not make you feel alienated.


Sony DMXWL1 BRAVIA Wireless HD Link Review

Sony DMXWL1 BRAVIA Wireless HD Link

Sony DMXWL1 BRAVIA Wireless HD Link

The Sony DMXWL1 Bravia Wireless HD Link is a wireless HD transmission kit that is specially designed to compliment Sony’s Bravia line of HD LCD TV’s. It has a normal, two-piece transmitter-receiver setup with a long range that makes sense for large rooms and multi-room setups.

The DMXWL1 has a glossy black finish on both units and the receiver unit is slightly smaller than the transmission unit. The transmitter comes with its own stand and it has 5 different inputs to plug all our devices in to. There are 4 HDMI-in ports and 1 component video port. All inputs support up to 1080i HD video streams. You can switch between inputs with the provided remote. The remote also supposedly works for your Bravia TV, so you do not need to juggle between two remote control units.

Features & Specifications: -

  • Wireless HD transmission of video and audio to your compatible Sony HDTV from up to 65 feet away
  • Real-time transmission for true gaming experience
  • Support up to 5 HD sources (4HDMI, 1 component video)
  • Control your BRAVIA HDTV and connected equipment with the included remote control
  • Easy to mount receiver remains concealed behind your compatible BRAVIA HDTV

Multiple input options allow you plug in the many devices that you would like to connect to your HDTV such as a Blu-ray or DVD player, your gaming console, your laptop, etc. Each device can now have its own dedicated input port so that you don’t have to manually plug and unplug different peripherals. Set up is really simple because all your have to do is plug in all the sources in to the 4 HDMI and 1 Component Video ports.

The transmitter also has a digital and analog audio out options for connecting it to your surround sound system separately. The receiver has one HDMI out that needs to be connected to the display (HDTV, Projector, etc.). Since it has an HDMI out, it can easily be connected to TV’s and displays other than Sony’s Bravia line.

The Sony DMXWL1 Bravia Wireless HD Link has a long range of 65 feet, which is more than twice the range of competing wireless HD connecting kits. The kit broadcasts over a  5GHz frequency which might cause interference with some WiFi routers and other wireless devices that operate over the 5GHz frequency. It requires a line of sight option to ensure that there’s a clear signal down to the receiver. This is okay for large halls and living rooms but it limits the setup to one room and this won’t cover multi-room setups. The picture quality on the DMXWL1 is really great and it does do justice to all the HD inputs that it receives. There’s no visible lag and it is okay for gaming setups with consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

Buyer reviews feature some complaints about compatibility issues with various sources. In some cases, either the video or the audio is not transmitted properly and the signal drops at times. These problems are very likely to be firmware issues and will hopefully be fixed through an update soon. The reviews also note the clear picture quality and negligible signal lag during gaming. The simple plug n play set up of the Sony DMXWL1 Bravia Wireless HD Link is also a big advantage point, as is the long range that allow for really flexible setups.


HP Wireless TV Connect Review

HP Wireless TV Connect

HP Wireless TV Connect

The HP Wireless TV Connect is a wireless HD connection kit that uses Amimon’s WHDI technology to broadcast HD signals over a wireless connection. It comes in the usual transmitter & receiver pair and it is optimized for use with desktops and laptops.

The transmitter and the receiver are designed as simple black boxes with a matte finish and strategically placed heat vents. The transmitter and the receiver units both have a nicely styled vertical stands to sit on. The transmitter also comes with a hanging bracket or clip that can allows it to be clipped on the back of the lid, somewhat like how webcams can be clipped on to laptop screens.

Set up is extremely simple since the connection is over HDMI, which is a dedicated display port. It is purely plug and play without any drivers. This also means that it can work on any computer with an HDMI out regardless of the OS.

Both units require external power. The receiver unit comes it with its own power source and it needs to stay powered at all times to be operational. The transmitter draws power from a free USB port on the computer. Both require HDMI ports to connect to. HP has thoughtfully added a USB splitter cable so that the USB port used for powering the device does not become blocked altogether and can be used by other devices. However, this device will only be able to use the USB port for data transfer and not for drawing power.

The box also contains the stands, the clip, two HDMI cables, power adapter for the receiver and a USB cable.

The kit supports video resolutions of up to 1080p @60Hz. Audio support includes S/PDIF DTS HD, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby, Digital Plus, AC-3 (5.1 channel) and HCDP 1.0. It has a transmission range of up to 5 meters (about 17 feet), which is often enough for a multi-room setup. There is no requirement for line of sight, which is a problem for many other Wireless HD kits like this.

The HP Wireless TV Connect can thus transmit full HD audio and video, including surround sound for your home theatre system. The HP TV connect is good for streaming HD videos and movies from your laptop and also for sharing photos and using your HDTV or projector as an external display for more workspace. Buyers have also reported good gaming experience through the kit because of almost negligible lag.

Since the transmitter is a large box, it is better suited to permanent set ups between your desktop and HDTV even though it is encouraged for use with laptops. However, the transmitter does not need to connect to anything other than the laptop for power and input, there are no wires tying your laptop down to one spot and you can easily move around.

Buyer reviews note that the HP Wireless TV Connect also works for computers with only VGA ports through a VGA to HDMI converter but the resolution will not reach HD because of the limitations of the VGA standard. Picture quality over HDMI is quite good with vivid colors.


Warpia StreamHD Wireless PC to TV Full 1080P

Warpia StreamHD Wireless PC to TV Full 1080P

Warpia StreamHD Wireless PC to TV Full 1080P

The Warpia StreamHD is a WHDI based wireless HD transmission kit that is designed to work with PC’s. It consists of a base station style receiver and a transmitting dongle that plugs in to the USB port of a laptop or a desktop. The base station connects to the display via an HDMI port. This ensures that the receiver base will be able to connect to anything that accepts HDMI, including HD projectors and HDTV’s.

The receiver base also sports an S/PDIF port for full 5.1 digital surround sound and you can directly connect your home theatre system to it. If you are looking for plain stereo and do not have S/PDIF compatible audio devices, there’s also a 3.5mm stereo jack port. Warpia thus scores well on the audio connectors area where most comparable solutions tend to just leave it up to the HDMI out.

Since the StreamHD Wireless is a PC-based solution, it is as much at home in a boardroom as it is in a living room. The transceiver kit can easily be adopted in an office scenario where computers can easily be connected to HD projectors without the need to run cables through the length of the room.

This kit has a standard 30 feet range with a line-of-sight requirement. That means the transmitter has to be able to ‘see’ the receiver base in order to transmit a proper signal. There cannot be anything blocking the transmitter completely from the receiver, like walls or furniture.

However, once you have a clear line of transmission, the image quality is crisp and true HD. This kit supports full 1080p HD with a native resolution support of 1920×1280 pixels. Customers report an inconsistent experience when it comes to lag. There are reports of some online services having minimal lag and other having some noticeable lag. Skype performance seems to be consistent throughout with a slight drop in call quality but otherwise stable performance.

This kit plugs in to your PC and behaves as a standard external display for your computer. Hence, you can either mirror your desktop or extend it to make more screen space. For most home entertainment purposes, a mirrored set up would do. However, an extended screen would allow the user to work on something else while the extended area was occupied with something else.

This kit is a good option for watching high-resolution images, online videos and local media files on your HDTV or HD projector. However, this kit cannot support Blu-Ray movies played on your computer. Another point to keep in mind is that this kit supports only Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. There is no proper Mac OS support as of yet but some of Warpia’s other kits have beta versions of Mac drivers.

The StreamHD has received a fairly good line of customer reviews on Amazon and other places. Most professional reviewers have also rated it well. The only caveats are the minor lags in specific applications and the line of sight requirement.


RocketfishTM – 4-Port Wireless HD Kit Rf-whd200 Review

RocketfishTM - 4-Port Wireless HD Kit Rf-whd200

The RocketfishTM - 4-Port Wireless HD Kit Rf-whd200

The RocketfishTM – 4-Port Wireless HD Kit Rf-whd200 is a wirelessHD transmitter-receiver kit that gets the job done with minimal or no hassle. The instructions are simple and the steps are more or less self explanatory. You connect the transmitter to your HD source. And then you connect the receiver to your HD output (TV or Projector) and then you switch the system on and voila! It works.

One of the main plus points of this specific model is that it supports 4 different inputs on the transmitter. So you can connect your PS3/Xbox, your cable box and more and then switch between the inputs quite easily. The bundled remote works well for all things except for the little problem that it is a bit too small in the hand. One way out of this is to program all the signals in to an universal remote and then enjoy switching back and forth between your cable and movies and games and other things.

Coming to the image quality, there’s nothing to complain about. The transmitted signal carries a full HD video signal to the TV/Projector. Sound is crisp and clear. You are unlikely to find any difference between the quality on the Rocketfish kit and actually running an HDMI cable all the way. Resolution changes will take a few seconds to execute but then that is expected to happen. So overall, performance is exactly what is says in the box. It does what it is supposed to do with no jitters or drop in quality. And it comes with its own connecting cables, which are quite good.

The Rocketfish HD kit transmits a 6GHz signal, which is a blessing for those running dual-band routers and that is an increasing number of people. It does not interfere with either of the bands and runs above the 5Ghz upper band of the router. It also does not require line of sight and works well through furniture and dry walls.

For under a $150 (online), the RocketfishTM – 4-Port Wireless HD Kit Rf-whd200 is quite the package. Recommended for anyone who wants get rid unwieldily wires from the home setup.


ASUS U30JC-B1 13.3-Inch Laptop (Silver) Review


The ASUS U30JC-B1 13.3-Inch Laptop is an entertainment machine that looks small but works big. Loaded with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M multicore processor and 4GB of DDR3 1066MHz RAM (2GB x 2 slots, 4GB Maximum) it can handle your everyday tasks and multitasking with ease. It’s entertainment features come complete with a Nvidia G310M Graphics card with 512MB of dedicated DDR3 VRAM and Intel’s WiDi Wireless HD technology. This coupled along with NVIDIA’s Optimus intelligent graphics switching technology makes it a formidable machine that has a good battery life despite having powerful graphics.

It has a chiclet style keyboard with flat, isolated keys which make for comfortable typing and a smooth touchpad with a single bar button. The silver finish on it is spread throughout the laptop except for the bezel which is black.

It has a 320GB 5400RPM Hard Disk drive, a super multi optical drive and comes with a 64bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed. The storage space is enough for the average user carry around his/her music collection, ebook, audiobooks and movies. The optical drive is capable of reading and writing DVD’s and you can easily watch your DVD’s on this laptop.

The 13.3 inch display is a good mid-ground between portability and a good amount of screen space. It has a native resolution of 1366×768, giving you a 720p HD display. The Nvidia G310M Graphics card makes it moderately good gaming laptop. It should be able to run most modern games at a acceptable FPS rates, with the exception of the really graphics heavy games.

With Intel’s WiDi built in and an HDMI out port readily available, this laptop gives you multiple ways of connecting the laptop to your HD TV or HD projector. To connect the laptop to your HDTV or projector wirelessly, you will need Neatgear’s Push2TV dongle that will allow the device to access the wireless HD stream from your laptop. This will allow you to enjoy your games and movies on a grand HD TV or Projector.

The ASUS U30JC-B1 13.3-Inch Laptop is a powerful entertainment hub and for under $800, it is a very good buy for those  looking to have a versatile machine that will take care of all their entertainment needs. Playing games, watching movies, surfing on multiple tabs and multi-tasking to boot — this laptop will do it all and also double up as a powerful office machine if you want it to.


ASUS U30JC-X3K 13.3-Inch Laptop Review

ASUS U30JC-X3K 13.3-Inch Laptop

The ASUS U30JC-X3K 13.3-Inch Laptop is a 13 inch laptop that packs in quite a bit of punch for its size. It is powered by a 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-35M processor, which is coupled with 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 RAM and a super multi optical disk drive. But the reason behind our interest is that it comes with Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) wireless networking capability. This allows the user to wirelessly stream the contents of the laptop screen to any HD screen. It is similar to what the Wireless HD transceiver kits do but since this is built in, there’s no hassle of having to connect a dongle or similar to the laptop and then having to look for a power source or blocking up the few USB ports there are.

At 13 inches, the U30JC-X3k is the perfect size for a portable entertainment hub. It is small enough to to be comfortably carried around and has enough horsepower for smoothly playing back HD video content (local and streaming). It will also be good for some moderate gaming action thanks to the dedicated NVIDIA G310M graphics. Since it also comes with NVIDIA Optimus intelligent graphics switching technology, it also ensures that the battery life will be decent despite it having powerful graphics.

The display is standard fare — a 13.3 inch, 1366×768 pixel screen coupled with LED backlighting. It has a decent viewing angle and has a 0.3mp webcam on top part of the bezel, which is a slight let down because of the very low resolution. However, you can still have your video chats directly on your TV screen and if you are receiving HD video from the other end it will be all the better.

The 500 GB hard drive gives you a generous amount of storage space for all the media that you would like to carry around with you. As a portable entertainment machine, you can easily carry around handpicked HD movies on the ASUS U30JC-X3K 13.3-Inch Laptop is a 13 inch laptop and stream it to any HD TV using the WiDi receiver dongle. You will have to but the WiDi dongle separately. It is called Push2TV, is manufactured by Netgear an is available for purchase online.


HP Pavilion dv6-3150us 15.6-Inch Laptop PC Review

The HP Pavilion dv6-3150us 15.6-Inch Laptop PC is a great portable entertainment solution. If you are looking for a compact system that is capable of handling all your media and give you a great visual experience, then this laptop does fit the bill. This is especially true if you are looking to use it at home as an entertainment hub because it has Intel’s Wireless Display built right in to which allows you to stream the contents of your screen to any HDTV that is compatible with the WiDi adapter.

The 2.53Ghz Intel Core i5-460M processor powering the the laptop is coupled with 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM (expandable up to 8GB), which makes for a good combo for an entertainment machine. It has ample storage space on its 640GB 5400rpm SATA HDD and comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.

The screen is well-suited for watching video content. It is a 15.6inch LED backlit HD display with a native 720p resolution support. The graphics support is onboard, so it won’t be able to handle hardcore gaming. However, the Intel HD graphics with up to 1696MB memory is perfectly suited for playing back HD content and some games that don’t need that much graphics horse power.

There are 4 USB .20 ports on the dv6-3150us with one being a USB/e-SATA combo. It has both HDMI and VGA — a good thing for video enthusiasts. There’s a 5-in-1 card reader and the usual Ethernet and audio ports. All together, HP has made sure that you have more or less everything that an average user might need. The DVD drive is super multi with LightScribe built in. It has Dolby Advanced Audio with Altec Lansing Speakers, ensuring really clear and crisp Audio.

WiFi 802.11b/g/n is built in along with Intel’s Wireless Display which allows you to steam your content to a HD Screen wirelessly. You will be needing the separately sold Netgear Push2TV WiDi adapter to receive the WiDi signals transmitted by the laptop. However, it is only a small investment in order to have a smooth wireless display solution that does not clutter your laptop’s ports.

At around $800 on Amazon, the HP Pavilion dv6-3150us 15.6-Inch Laptop PC quite a good deal.