Archive for 'review'

Review: Samsung Series 7 Slate

img-NikeTab-08I have been waiting for Samsung to release their Windows Slate device ever since BUILD this year when all the delegates. After checking the Samsung web site i noticed they had a new listing under the “Thin and Light” category for the Series 7 Slate.

After waiting forever on the phone to JB HIFI I was told they were only in limited stores so I ran (in the car) to the Carindale store to pick one up. When I got there the help full sales assistant said they have been in stock since Monday (It took me 4 whole days to find they were out in Australia… I am getting slack). He seemed to really like the device and said it was selling well but people thought it was to expensive compared to the iPad. We then both agreed that yes it was expensive but it was a full computer and well worth the extra cost…

The hardware specs on this device are pretty good. The Second Generation Core i5 mobile part give it a lot of power yet still with useful batter life (4+ hours). 4gb ram is more than enough to run pretty much any application I need and the 64gb SSD is enough so long as I don’t load it up with heaps of media. The model that I got did not have 3G but it is an option so we may see another versions come out at a later stage sporting this mobile connectivity. What I did not realise at the time is that the screen  Gorilla Glass which makes it scratch resistant and almost unbreakable.

The obvious comparison is with the iPad which does have a solid one piece metal body. The Series 7 has a back is a brushed metal but does have some give when you try to warp the device. I also noticed tha the touch screen goes crazy when you grab the screen with you hand due to the pressure put on the screen. The device also has a fan which the iPad does not so when you star cranking the CPU it does generate a bit of heat (it is a Intel CPU after all). Battery life is a lot shorter than the iPad at about (4+ hours) but this is still fairly decent when compared to other laptops.

Update: Another thing I like about the device is that it also come with a dock Bluetooth keyboard and stylus (that I have not used yet).

Samsung_Touch_main-visual

The device is not an exact replica of the Windows 8 device that Microsoft gave away but it is pretty close. I bought this device primarily to load Windows 8 Developer Preview. However while I was making my Windows 8 Developer Preview USB key I gave the factory fitted Windows 7 a good run for its money…

Windows 7 on this device runs fantastic… The device is smooth and responsive to the touch unlike many of the atom based slates I have used. This has confirmed in mind that many of the issues Windows 7 on previous slate device has a lot to do with the slow hardware and not the OS itself. The Windows 7 OS does have a Samsung "Touch” skin loaded (see image below) however I found this very cumbersome and I removed it almost straight away.

Samsung_Touch_main-visual

After my short stint on Windows 7 I quickly loaded Windows 8 on the device with no issues using the USB install drive I just made. There are a couple of device drivers missing but this is only a developer preview so I was not expecting complete drive support. I am not too worried about the computer eventually getting full driver support as it is listed as one of the device they are using in the Windows 8 hardware test lab. Of course knowing that Microsoft is actively testing this device also made my decision to buy this table a lot easier one to make…

So with the OS loaded I logged on with my live ID account I was pleased to find that it had kept all must customisations I made using Windows 8 on my other test virtual computer. This is good example of how the cloud can make a users life much easier. It just works…

Windows 8 on this device is simply awesome. I must admit I was struggling to understand how the new UI would work and if the new start screen would be that useful… But having used Windows 8 on this for a few days now i get it, I really get. It was almost like I had an epiphany when watching a YouTube video snapped to the screen while using the full desktop browser on the other side. While this might seem trivial and something you can already do with any laptop the key here is that I was doing it using touch and that I could have a full multi-tasking and Windows desktop experience using nothing but a touch enabled device…

Update: I am also finding the ability to have the true “full web” experience in a touch screen slate device to be amazing. I have Flash and Silverlight installed and the performance and battery life is still excellent….

Samsung is in a rather unique position here with many Android and now Window device on the market. This makes me wounder if their biggest competition with the device is not Apple but it is in fact themself. Overall this device is excellent and even if you have no interest in running Windows 8 on this device it would be an excellent alternative as your next laptop purchase…

Update 1: It would seem I am having the separation issues as reported here http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/samsung/45808-you-having-screen-bezel-problem.html

Update 2: This issues is almost definitely cause by the pressure put on the edge of the screen when in the dock. The separation ONLY happens when left in dock for a period of time… I think this could be easily fixed by a different do design that does not lean the entire weight of the device on its bezel.

Tags: , , , ,

Review: HTC Mozart + Windows Phone 7

Mozart4_thumb[1]_thumb[6]I have previously blogged about the things I liked and hated about the iPhone so I thought it would be only fair if I started a same post about my new Windows Phone 7 HTC Mozart phone.

I have now had this phone for 4 day’s so this review is still very preliminarily so I fully expect that this list will change over time. My comments will cover both the hardware and software on the device as Microsoft have been all about the “experience” of the device and therefore I need to cover all aspects of the phone.

In addition to the Good and Bad i have also put in a Wish List at the bottom that has all the little features that I thought would be nice for the phone to have.

Good

  • Camera with Flash is good for those low light situations. (see image below)

WP_000017_thumb

  • Camera 8mbit / 720p video. I have not used an iPhone 4 camera so i can’t make the obvious comparisons however having a high resolution camera on hand all the time is nice. (see image below)

WP_000011_thumb[4]

  • Camera that I can use without having to unlock the phone and then launch the application is nice to quickly capture those special unplanned moments.
  • Camera that automatically uploads every photo I take to SkyDrive so I will never lose a photo is awesome.
  • Dedicated camera button is very nice so I don’t have to find the camera app even when then phone is unlocked.
  • Hardware is solid the back is mostly aluminium… clearly an iPhone styled device. Mozart2_thumb[6]
  • Screen is very nice with 800×480 is much higher res than the iPhone 3g… but not as good as iPhone 4. Still having a screen with such high resolution is very nice. I find that even going bad to the iPad with it lower DPI makes a lot of the text and image look somewhat fuzzy.
  • Find,Lock,Beep,Wipe my phone but just going to http://windowsphone.live.com and login and then select the option want to use (see below). This is very similar to Apple Mobile Me except without the $99 price tag.

findmyphone_thumb[1]

  • User Interface is smooth and responsive to use.
  • Home screen is really nice as I have pinned all my commonly used apps ,people and podcasts to the start screen making it really easy to access the stuff I use most of the time.
  • Wireless Sync is OMG fantastic. I used to have to sync my iPhone/iPad to my computer each morning before going to work… Now I just wake up and my phone is all synced for my days listening.
  • Internet Explorer is very good. Just like safari on the iPhone…
  • Xbox live is cool as now I am earning points for my Xbox live accounts on my phone (like playing Flight Control)… very cool…
  • Lock screen information is really nice as it actually give me useful information such as time, day, date and upcoming appointments.
  • Compatible with Apple ear buds with remote clicker. Only the play pause button works however it is still nice to be able to use the apple ear buds with i prefer.
  • Remote App install is a nice feature that lets you purchase an application on your computer and have it appear on your phone with connecting the two devices.
  • Voice commands works as well on this as it did on the iPhone. Will be useful when in a car and you don’t want to touch the phone to make a phone call.
  • Micro USB connector is really nice to have as I can use any micro USB cable to charge the phone. These are also really cheap and you can pick them on on eBay for about $6 as opposed to $35 for Apple phone data leads.
  • Key Applications that any good smartphone should have are mostly there… Below is a list of key apps that I have installed.
    • Foursquare
    • Shazam
    • Facebook
    • Adobe Reader
    • Ebay
    • Flickr Manager
    • Feed Reader (Google reader app)
    • Twitter (Official app))
    • YouTube
    • Windows Messenger
    • Flight Control

Bad

  • No microSD card support means the phone is limited to 8gb storage. This is a phone specific restriction as other phone do have microSD cards for future storage upgrades.
  • No case’s means that i am very paranoid that I will drop or scratch the phone.
  • Battery life is poor. I am getting only 12 hours out of my phone with fairly light usage. I suspect this is due to keeping one of the push service turned on in the background so I have turned these off to see if it makes a difference.
  • I have had the OS crash on me two times now when running the Facebook applications.
  • HTC Apps are broken. After trying to run an application update on the HTC applications they have now stopped working. Apparently this is due to a certificate issues and updates are coming. See http://twitter.com/#!/Windows7AU/status/28073132075
  • App store still has only a few applications. This number is growing and it does have a key number of applications however it is still no where near the Apple of Android app store. Notable missing application:
    • Angry Birds
  • Capacitive buttons are a totally pain in the ass… I have accidently touch the buttons at least a dozen time when typing on the phone. Positing the space bar just above the star button really sucks and accidently pressing the search button when play a game in landscape is also rally annoying. Update: I really wish the 3 buttons could be locked out when playing a full screen game/app. This would make this a LOT better… even if it just asked… are you sure when you press the button in the middle of the game.
  • You can pin a podcast to the home screen (which is nice). But when you are listening to the podcast and then you click on the pinned tile the track stops and then starts again. Annoying!

Wish List

  • 2x play speed when playing podcasts would be really nice. They have this in Windows Media player and in the iPhone so having it in the Zune software would be a great time saver as I would (literally) be able to listen to all my podcasts quicker.
  • Scrub bar for playing podcasts and music would be nice to be able to jump to certain parts of audio track really quickly. You can do something similar by pressing and holding the back/forward button but this is not as good.
  • Schedule for email sync so that i don’t get email notification at 1am in the morning…
  • New: Percentage indicator for the battery remaining…
  • New: Folders for the application launcher so that I can group my similar application. This could be automatically based on the categorisation of the application in the app store.
  • New: Internet Tethering… This was something that was mentioned as possible on the Windows Weekly podcast but was then later revealed as not correct for the release. I suspect this will be coming in a v1.1 update…
  • New: Flash and Silverlight in browser support. I am not saying I love Flash and Silverlight however having the option would be nice…

 

This is just a start for now… I will definitely be adding more as time goes by…

Tags: , , ,

One of the new hardware products that was shown off by Microsoft at CES 2010 was the Microsoft Arc Keyboard that was designed to be used around the home and living room. Microsoft also made the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 which is more aimed at mobile laptop user who wants a move ergonomic and/or compact keyboard while they are out an about. Well this keyboard is now out in Australia and as I am most certainly an mobile work I decided to buy this keyboard for myself to use.

The keyboard is in fact actually two devices with one being a compact keyboard with the all the standard keys as well as dedicated function, volume and arrows buttons. The other part is a separate keypad that can be used independently of the keyboard. This means that it can also operate as a standalone keypad for a laptop if you just want the added convenience of a dedicated number input device. A nice surprise is that the number pad comes with its own material pocket which protects it from damage if you are storing this in your bag along with all your other junk… errr… equipment.

Externally the packaging looks like the standard Microsoft red packaging they have used for many years.

IMG_0988

IMG_0986

When you open the packaging I am reminded greatly of the form fit packaging that came with my Apple iPhone 3GS. Microsoft have really gone all out to make this a very easy experience to remove the product from the packaging which I like greatly when compared to something like the previous Microsoft hardware devices like the Microsoft Remote Keyboard for Windows XP Media Center Edition.

IMG_0990

Pull the keyboard out and you get a glimpse of the keypad…

IMG_0991

After you remove the cardboard insert you see the keypad, instructions and the keypad pouch.

IMG_0992

The material that the pouch is made of is not very soft and pretty however this is a good thing as it need to protect the keypad from damage not make it look pretty.

IMG_0993

IMG_0995

This is by far the thinnest keyboard I have ever used.

IMG_0998

In fact I have found it to be so compact and small that you can easily place it on top of your laptop keyboard to get the advantage of the bigger keys and more ergonomic shape. This also means I can use the keyboard and not have to push back the laptop from the edge of the desk making the laptop screen to far away to see effectively. Nice!

IMG_0823 

Notice the PrtScn, Home and End keys are implemented using the Fn “function” button not surprisingly it does not also work as the laptop keyboard function button. The placement of the “function” button is a bit strange as you cannot easily press it and the other alternative button without place you whole hand over the area to obscure the view of the keyboard you are trying to use. This is probably something that can be picker up with muscle memory after a period of time but I would have thought it would been much better to have pushed the Fn button over to the left hand side where most Fn buttons are located on laptops.

IMG_1001

IMG_1000

The keypads and keyboard have a dedicated physical hardware on off button as well as a pen push Bluetooth connect button.

IMG_1002

IMG_1003

Adding the device to your computer is straight forward. Just bind the device using the Add Bluetooth option from control panel and let windows create a pairing pin.

image

Initially I was confused as to how to enter the pin number for the device but then I realised you just type the number in on the keyboard and then press enter.

image

You follow the same binding process for the number pad and then you will see the photo images of your devices in Device and Printer platform (along with any other hardware you have installed).

image 

Overall the hardware build quality seems to be excellent. The feel of the soft press low profile keys is very nice to use for someone who is used to laptop keyboards and the compact design means that it will easily fit it into my bag when I am on the road. The price at them moment at Officeworks in Australia is $148 au however which is a little more expensive than other keyboards but this is a very thin light weight wireless keyboard/keypad package that is unique to the market right now.

I am also think this is going to be a very good companion device when the HP Slate (and other devices like it) is released in the coming months as this will be able to be used with out taking up any of the precious USB slots on the device as it can use the built in Bluetooth receiver. I also wounder if this will work with the iPad…. hmm…

If you are a person who types a lot on your laptop and you want something that makes pounding out all those reports just a little bit easier then this is once toy….err… gadget… errr… productivity tool that you must get.

9 out of 10.

For more detail and product specification see http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=016

Tags: , , , , ,
Back to top