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Nexmas

It’s Nexmas!

In case you haven’t heard, in the early hours of this morning Google announced their two new modules in the Nexus Smartphone range – the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P.

The 5 will still be packing a lot of the punch that the 6 will be, but holding out on the alloy case that the 6 will be hosting.

Both phones will be sporting the new material look with Google’s updated OS Mashmellow.

The phones are available for preorder and are due for shipping around the end of October… so for those of us in Australia – we might be lucky to get it by Christmas!

For more information – check out Derek Ross’ post with the leaked presenter notes for the 6P and the Nexus Camera.

Check out Google’s blog post about it all.

 

 

 

 

HTC One Max Review

The HTC One Max is HTC’s jump to the giant Smartphone market. The One Max takes all the good things from the HTC One, but carries a few extra features, which we’ll discuss later on. Of course, a bigger phone means heavier and bulkier. Is the HTC One Max worth its price? Let’s find out together.

HTC One Max Review

Let’s first talk about the design. The HTC One Max is actually large and pretty heavy, compared to other devices. It has a 5.9 inch screen and weighs 7.65 ounces (or 217g). The build quality has some issues; I like the HTC One much more because it had a singular, amazingly crafted block of aluminum. Its bigger brother replaces this with a white polycarbonate band that keeps parts together. The result just isn’t as pretty. The size of the phone isn’t really well-designed either; other phone try to compensate with the tiniest bezels, but the HTC One Max doesn’t do this at all, it just proudly emphasizes its big front speakers on the top and bottom.

The first of its extra features that I mentioned is the fingerprint scanner. It’s not like ‘that other phone’s scanner’, but thankfully it also works. It’s not always accurate, but if you swipe in the right way it should detect if it’s actually you or not. The worst thing about it is that you don’t really know where to swipe to use the scanner. You can’t feel its presence, so if change your grip, you’ll have to search for it again. A neat feature here is that you can use different fingers for other functions. For example, you could use your middle finger to open a specific app, another finger to unlock and so on.

HTC One Max Review

Some of the specifications of the HTC One Max are rather impressive, like the 3.300mAh battery it stocks. It easily gives you a full day of heavy use, which can’t be said of a lot of devices, so that might be something to think about. The Power Saver clocks down the CPU, turns off data connection while the screen is turned off, reduces brightness and turns off the vibration. Naturally, it has a 1080p screen, which is still the best in its class for sure. The Boomspeakers really do deliver the best sound, perfect for watching your favorite video content. The camera captures pictures in 4MP and 1080p videos. 4MP might sound a bit low resolution, but HTC has its UltraPixel technology. The basic idea tells us that less pixels on the sensor gives better performance in low light environments. The stills it takes aren’t bad, but it could be better. It’s just a mediocre camera, and we think HTC should have tried to make it something special here. The front shooter is 2.1MP, and also 1080p for video. The device supports NFC and the battery efficient Bluetooth 4.0. It has plenty of RAM, 2GB to be specific, and is equipped with the Snapdragon 600 CPU. This means the One Max is just an addition to HTC’s devices, not a new flagship device. The Snapdragon 600 isn’t the best there is, but we can’t really complain, it does its job rather well.

The HTC One Max has a massive, but great, 1080p display. It houses pretty decent specs, but not the best of the best. The camera could have had some extra work, but it’s really fast and packs a whole lot of features. The speakers are amazing! Battery life is the best. Unfortunately the device is a bit heavy, and the fingerprint scanner isn’t as easy to use as it should.

HTC One Max Review

So for the most part, it’s not really a big upgrade over the HTC One, but it does have some pretty great features that might be enough to get you over to a store and get yourself into the giant phone hype of today.

As usual, many thanks to Kevin for all his support, and to you all for reading. Stay tuned for more tech reviews from Brad and me.  Until next time, happy new year to you all. Let’s hope we all can give this world a better 2014.

Amaya Ai,
Gifu, Japan

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Review

It seems that the time of the mega phones isn’t over yet. Samsung even got it right in the name this time, it’s the new Galaxy Mega 6.3. The new mobile phone is really big, it’s actually huge, but that isn’t automatically a bad thing. This phone is actually pretty likable, so let’s see why.

First of all, its price point isn’t that bad. It’s $480 off contract and you can get it for $150 on contract. Now, this price comes with, well, a price. Its LCD screen is ‘only’ 720p and it isn’t, like most other Samsung phones, a Gorilla Glass. It has a Snapdragon processor, which is pretty much a child of the Snapdragon S4. The camera is exactly the same as the one on the Galaxy S III, an 8MP shooter, which is more than a year old now. Flagship devices have more RAM than the Mega 6.3, which only has 1.5GB. The battery, a 3200mAh one, is just a bit larger than the one in the Galaxy Note II.

Despite all of that sounding pretty negative, it also has some neat features. It has NFC support, a microSD slot, 8GB of internal storage and, which I think is pretty cool, an Infrared (IR) port.

Let’s first check out the specs of this monster phone.

Specifications:

  • Processor: 1.7Ghz Dual-Core Snapdragon 400
  • GPU: Adreno 305
  • OS: Android 4.2.2
  • Connectivity: 3G, LTE, NFC, all WIFI standards
  • Display: 6.3” 720p LCD
  • Memory: 8 GB internal storage (expandable with microSD) / 1.5GB RAM
  • Camera: 8MP rear / 1.9MP front
  • Battery: 3200mAh

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s go a bit deeper.

Design:

Explaining the design of the Mega 6.3 can be done very easily; it’s just like the Galaxy S4, but bigger. This means it’s all made plastic, even the volume rocker and the power button (which were metal on the S4). I have to say the build quality is, despite being cheaper, the same as Samsung’s flagship device. The only thing missing here is the wireless charging functionality and with all that in mind, I can only see one significant difference, the lack of Gorilla Glass. The phone’s larger than other devices, which already means that the chance of it getting scratches is higher.

Camera:

The camera of the Mega 6.3 is an 8MP shooter, not in any way cheap, but we can’t really call it the best thing out there. I’ve said it’s exactly the same one that the Galaxy SIII has, and that’s actually not a bad thing. This camera can hold its ground in pretty much every situation; it just doesn’t excel in anyway. You’ll be happy with the pictures it shoots; just don’t expect top notch material.

Performance:

The processor in the Galaxy Mega 6.3 is less powerful than the one in higher-end devices, which makes it noticeably slower, but it’s still faster than other mid-range smartphones thanks to the upgraded GPU. With the 1.5GB of RAM, you shouldn’t see any slowdowns or frame drops, but it won’t be able to handle everything at once. New phones should have at least 2GB of RAM to handle the new Android versions and apps.

Display:

The display is 6.3 inch, that’s actually really big. When you hold it in your hand, it’s not that bad, it even feels just right. When you turn it on, though, it’s suddenly gigantic. You just can’t believe how big it really is. When playing around with it, it feels and looks more like a tablet than a real phone, and yes, it does look a bit ridiculous when taking a call and holding that big of a phone to your head.

The display itself is pretty good, but again not the best out there. Like the specs already stated, it’s a 720p LCD screen. This LCD screen does seem to work in direct sunlight, which is a great feature to have. I think I’m not the only one always getting frustrated when I can barely see what’s on the screen when I’m outside. The viewing angles are great, and the colors are fairly accurate. Exactly what we expect from a Samsung device.

Battery life:

A 3200mAh battery, that’s what this huge smartphone has at its disposal. Its display is so big, it uses way more battery than you’d expect from a phone, which makes its battery life less than optimal for most of us. It should get you through a whole day without any problems, as long as you’re not the heaviest user. Standby time is really great, which says enough. The device isn’t the one eating away at that precious battery life; it’s the device’s screen for the most part. You should be able to control it by adjusting the brightness all the time though, but that gets annoying really fast.

Verdict:

The Mega 6.3 is obviously not built for everyone. Its display is huge and people might just not like that. Also, if you are that kind of person that always wants the highest specs, the best of the best, the elite of the smartphone business, this one isn’t for you either. Then again, if you want a phone with a ton of features, but at a reasonable price, the Mega might be the one to go for. The specs could have been a lot better, but this phone wasn’t meant for the high-end category. They deliberately got rid of the gimmicks and extra fancy features (which almost no one uses anyway). It’s the best balance of price and value out there. So if you want a monster phone that’s actually pretty good, the Mega 6.3 won’t disappoint.

Special thanks to Kevin for all his support and Alex for the proofread. Signing out from Gifu.

Amaya Ai,
Tech Webcast

The “Ghost Town” that is Google+ is coming!!

Article originally posted here

by Brian Booher of Modern Day Computers

Google-Plus-Logo

Let me get it out first…..I LOVE GOOGLE+!!!!

I think Google+ is the best social network on the planet!  I have met so many different people through Google+ in the 1.5 years I have been on it.  I find it so much more stimulating in being able to reach out to people of the world than I could with Facebook and Twitter.  I have more followers on Google+ than I do on Facebook and Twitter COMBINED!!  The introduction of the Google+ Hangouts is totally awesome as I can video chat with people from all over the world.  I see no reason why I should go to another social network, even though I am on Facebook and Twitter already even before joining Google+.

Hangouts and “Hangouts on Air” (HOA), are what makes Google+ better than Facebook as Facebook only allows for 1 to 1 conversations.  HOAs are really great as I can make recordings that will then be sent automatically to my Youtube account.  I don’t have to record it locally and spend the next 2 days uploading the video to Youtube with the way my Internet speed is.  Regular Hangouts are fun because I can get together with some friends and just chill out, talk about current events, discuss about tech, etc.  This is what blows Facebook out of the water, though it’s not much of a big bang as I would hope.

obamahangout1

Even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has used Hangouts on Air to meet with people and get a message out.  Whether you like him or not, it’s great to see a leader of a country taking advantage of this technology.

There is a problem I do see with Google+.  That problem is the amount of exposure that Google is promoting it.  As compared to Facebook and Twitter, Google+ pales in comparison when it comes to advertising.  Google’s cash cow for revenue is web search, so I don’t think they take Google+ very seriously.  That is kind of sad as Facebook has been growing so much over the years that eventually they may overtake Google as the search king.  In about 10 years, I would not be surprised if the mindset of society changes so dramatically that when people want to do a search on the web, they will facebook it, instead of google for it.

It has only been a couple of weeks since this writing that Google launched Google+ sign-in capability for apps.  This is the ability to use your Google+ credentials for a login for new apps that allow it, much like what Facebook and Twitter have allowed to do for years.  it took Google almost 2 years to create this?  Get with the times Google!

I also believe that Google is dragging their heals when it comes to promoting Google+ because of Facebook’s “Like” button.  Sure Google+ has the “+1” button, but it is not as well as promoted by companies.  Facebook gets TONS of advertising reach with companies who make commercials and say stuff like “Follow us on Facebook” or “Like us on Facebook”.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial where a company said “Follow us on Google+”.  Can anyone name a commercial that did something to promote Google+ in a commercial?  Anyone?   Beuller?  Beuller?

Google is also extremely hesitant to allow app developers to create third party apps with Google+ integration.  Take Tweetdeck for instance.  As of this writing, Tweetdeck is an app that allows you to post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time, though in a few months Twitter will kill off most of that ability since competition has become fierce.  I would love to have an app that would allow me to post to Google+, Facebook, and Twitter at the same time.  The closest thing I can do is using “Friends+me” which scans my Google+ profile for new public posts and sends them to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This is nice, but still a cumbersome process to setup.  If Google wants to be like Apple and control the whole user experience of Google+, that is a losing war.  They are in NO position to be that controlling, considering that Google+ is not the number 1 social network.  Facebook can and is doing just that because they are the number 1 social network.

Google+ on mobile is also a disaster.  When it comes to being able to do hangouts with a mobile device, I can understand that Google will favor Android devices to be able to enter Hangouts on Air, but to restrict iOS users from being able to do that is unacceptable.  Unless Apple’s strict requirements are in play, Google is seen by many iOS user as being uncaring towards them.  Google should explain why iOS users are not allowed in Hangouts on Air, regardless of who is at fault.   If it’s Apple’s fault, then that is understandable considering how much Apple thinks it knows best for its customers.  If it’s Google decision in regards to promoting Android, that is a disaster right there.  As I said before, Google+ is in no position to determine where it can work if it wants to become a world leader.

The Google+ mobile app is not very consistent either when it comes to Android and iOS.  I present two photos that I took of the same post I made on iOS on the left and Android on the right.

iOS                                                Android

Photo 2013-03-26 02.16.27 AM          Screenshot_2013-03-26-02-09-07

As you can see, they are very similar in most ways.  The big difference between the two are the 4 icons at the bottom.  The differences are that iOS has the “Link” in yellow while Android has “Mood” in yellow.  Why the hell would anyone on Android want to put their mood on a post?  Google actually had to do an update to give Android users the ability to link websites, though it can only be done when tapping on “Write”.  The iOS version had already been able to do that.  I also will grill Google on the length of time it took to make an iPad friendly version of the Google+ app.  Facebook was able to do that sooner with their app.

Wow!  I sure have written a lot now, so I guess I will wrap it up here.

As much bashing on Google+ as I have done, I do it because, as I said before, I love Google+.  I want to see it succeed and be able to become the king of social networks.  Facebook is great, but it’s not very social as for meeting people without first having to friend them.

If Google is serious about making Google+ into a great product, they need to get things rolling faster NOW!  Facebook is growing too fast to stand back and figure out a strategy that could last long term, but there are too many dynamics to be able to understand.  Google needs to promote the hell out of Google+.  Many of my friends that I know personally and have met in real life have no idea what Google+ is, they only know Facebook.

It was once said that Google+ was a “ghost town”.  At the time it was laughed at because of all the people using it, but now about a year later, things have changed and Google+ seems to be slipping away as Facebook gains more popularity.  If Google does not do much in promoting, I may just have to leave and go for greener pastures if I want to get better exposure and access.

Come on Google!  Wake up and smell the bacon!  Mmmm!  Yum!  Now I’m hungry.

Have fun and geek out!

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianBooher

Follow Modern Day Computers on Twitter: @ModernDayComps

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