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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

Samsung-CLP415NW

Printer1Right before the holiday season my Samsung Color Laser died on me, and of course I needed to do some color printing. I’ve long since moved away from Ink jet printing. I just don’t print enough and so much time passes between print jobs that usually the ink dries out and when I go to get replacement Ink it ends up being just a few dollars more for a new printer with a warranty.

It got to the point that my garage looked like an ink jet printer grave yard. So after cleaning out the guts of the relics of the past I switched to color laser.

Printer5But it’s so expensive you might say, well that really depends on your point of view and of course your individual use case. Color Laser printers have dropped dramatically over the last few years.

As I said I usually didn’t run out or use the ink, it typically dried up on me. With laser you get toner that is powder and doesn’t dry up or evaporate. Also ink jet printers seem to have gone back to merging colored inks together so if you run out of yellow you’ve got to buy a whole ‘color’ cartridge vs a laser where you can replace just the toner color your running low on.

PrintSample1Also laser has a crisper and more consistent lines and edges when printing and comes out nice and warm, where an ink jet printer will need time to set and can be smudged when exposed to moisture.

I had my Samsung printer for around 6 years and bought it during the CompUSA going out of business sale. I think it ran about $300 and I never changed the toner on it and I was able to get clean crisp color prints of what I needed. Keep in mind I’m printing color documents and illustrations that are being designed for mass production not photographs. If you’re a big photo printer then laser is NOT the route for you. Photo printing is a different ball of wax.

Printer2Since I had such good luck with my previous Samsung I decided to go ahead and stay with the Samsung line and picked up the CLP-415NW, and I couldn’t be happier! What a step up in printing.

The printer is fast, I mean like B&W laser fast. I’ve gotten a kick out of doing some completely digital drawings on my Samsung Galaxy Note and sending them directly to the printer in full color. Usually they are printed out before I walk over to the printer.

PrintSample3The specs say it cranks out 19ppm and it’s even rockin’ a Gigabit Ethernet port, although I’ve got mine hooked up via WiFi so it can stand alone. Another nice feature, this printer is designed for high-volume printing, supporting up to 40,000 per month which is perfect for a small office.

Setting up this printer had to be the easiest setup I’ve ever had in my history of installing and setup printers both wired and wireless.  I litterly took it out of the box, loaded up the toner, some paper, plugged it in, pressed the WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) button on the printer and the corresponding WPS button on my router and BAM it was on the network ready for a print job.

Then I fired up my Samsung Galaxy Note and the Samsung Mobile Print App and was sending print jobs within minutes of plugging it in.

Piece of cake.

printerWebAdminEven adding the printer to my Mac was as simple as going to System Preferences -> Print & Scan -> click on the plus and it finds the printer on the network and I’m good to go.

There is even a web interface to the printer so that you can check the status, toner levels and maintenance info. The print quality is excellent and this is by far my most favorite printer I’ve ever owned hands down.

If you are in the market for a printer, before you pickup your next ink jet, check out a color laser as an option.

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

Nexus 7 – G.B.U. Review

by Brian Booher of ModernDay Computers

I have had the Nexus 7 for about 2 weeks now and I will say I am amazed at what this little device can do.  To make it short, I like it.  There, it’s done!

Oh, you want more information on this?  Sure, I can do that.  I’ll give my good, bad, and ugly (G.B.U.) review on this for you.  First off, lets get into the specs.

The Nexus 7 is Google’s first pure Android tablet.  It is made by Asus, who also makes the Transformer Prime.  The tablet has a 7 inch screen with a 1280×800 pixel HD display, front facing camera, volume rocking switch, and the ever important power button.  It is equipped with a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer.  It also comes with the standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

Inside is a Tegra-3 quad-core processor made by NVidia.  It contains 1 GB of RAM and has  8GB or 16 GB of storage, depending on the model you get.  The model I am reviewing with is the 16GB version.

There are other goodies packed into this thing, but I will save those for later, which won’t be long.

Let’s set the record straight right here, this device is not an “iPad-killer”.  The biggest competition for the Nexus 7 is the Amazon Kindle Fire, which I also have.  This has the ability to blow the current Kindle Fire out of the water, as in the first generation Kindle Fire in case you are reading this sometime in the future.

So enough blabbering on, lets get into the good, bad, and ugly stuff of the Nexus 7.

 

THE GOOD

Additional Features

Well, it’s now later.  So I guess you want to know what else is in this box?  It has Wifi 802.11 (b/g/n) connectivity, bluetooth, a microphone, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and NFC (Near Field Communications) for Android Beam.

The screen is only 7 inches long horizontally, like all other electronic screens are measured. The display is 1280×800.  The pixel density is 216 ppi (pixels per inch).  The best thing is that is it capable of playing HD movies, though it would be in 720p.  The 80 more pixels are used for the screen controls, which are persistently shown when using it.

Android OS

The big attraction that makes the Nexus 7 way better than all the other tablets on the market is that it ships with the most current version of the Android OS.  It contains a pure version of Android 4.1, or Jelly Bean.  Jelly Bean was announced in mid-June as the update to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.  Every other tablet on the market has an older version that is usually customized heavily to match the company’s needs.  The Amazon Kindle Fire uses a heavily customized version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread that you can’t tell what it is.

Jelly Bean improves upon Ice Cream Sandwich that it is kind of hard to really set them apart.  Since I do not have a pure version of Ice Cream Sandwich, I have the T-Mobile version of the Samsung Galaxy S II, I really cannot give point to point differences since Samsung customized Ice Cream Sandwich to work with Touch-wiz interface.

Google Now

The biggest point that Jelly Bean has that ICS does not is Google Now.  Google Now is kind of like Siri that is found on Apple iOS, but not quite the same.  You can talk to it to ask for sports scores, weather info, travel information like flights, traffic conditions, and public transit info.  It won’t carry on a conversation like what Siri can do, but there are apps in Google Play Store that can do that.  If you’re looking for the official Android version of Siri on Google Now, you won’t find it.  I like it because all I have to do is name a sports team, in my case the Cincinnati Reds, and it will tell me the score of the most recent game.  It does have a voice to go with it too and it sounds more human than what Siri is.

Google Now is great for doing voice searches and it is pretty accurate with how it heard you and transcribed into text.  I just did a voice search for “ingredients for portal cake” and it brought up several search results on how to make the cake.  “The cake is a lie!” – geek humor right there.

If you say something like a place, like “Eiffel Tower”, it will bring up a map of the location in Paris, France and give you the option to make traveling directions with Google Maps.

Since Google Now is fairly new, there is a lot of room for improvement over time.  You might read articles from famous reviewers who will say that it’s crap because it isn’t like Siri since they feel that a product will only be successful if it can beat the competition on day 1.  Google Now will be improved over time and I am not in a rush, and neither should you.  If you want the Siri experience so badly, then go get an iPhone.  To me, Siri is boring compared to what kind of Android apps can do plus more.  Siri works in a walled garden, like all other Apple products.

Price

With all the features that is in this device, you might be thinking it would cost a pretty penny, much like what an iPad does.  Well, it doesn’t.

The 8GB model costs $199 and the 16GB model costs $249.  That is of course before tax and shipping rates are applied.  This is the same price point that the Amazon Kindle Fire is at, but the Nexus 7 has a ton more features.  With the Nexus 7, you can get the best of both worlds as you can read Kindle Books and use the Amazon Appstore.  I installed the Appstore the day I got the Nexus 7 and it works great.

Pure Android Experience

With the Nexus 7, you are getting the pure Android experience that Google has made.  This is not a version of Jelly Bean that has been heavily customized by the phone carriers, who like to strip out certain functions to add their own versions and add a bunch of non-removable crapware that can really slow down the system.  The biggest advantage is that when there is an update to Jelly Bean, whether it be to fix bugs or to update to the next version, which would be a pastry with the name beginning with K, you will not have the wait that long as compared to carrier versions who have to do the whole process again, which can take several months if you’re lucky that they even want to update your phone.  The carriers prefer not to update existing hardware, as they really want you to buy a new phone and extend your contract.  I speak of course about the carriers in the U.S., since that’s where I live and have to put up with.

 

THE BAD

Now I turn to what is bad about the product.  These are the topics that can be the make or break decision for some people.

Camera

The Nexus 7 has only 1 camera and that is a front facing camera.  The camera is only 1.2 MP which is good for video chatting.  I tired it on a Google+ hangout and it looks really good.  Though it may look good for hangouts, I do not think it would be useful for people who intend to take pictures with it, but there is a problem there too.  There is no camera app on the Nexus 7 like you would find on smartphones and other tablets like the iPad.  You can get camera apps from the Play Store, but there is no stock camera app to take pictures.  To me, I do not make it an issue since I carry my smartphone with me anyways, though it would be nice to have one on the Nexus 7.  Maybe in an future update Google might put a camera app on.

Storage

Though 16GB of storage does seem a lot, it can be a setback for some, especially for those people who have iPads with 32GB or 64GB of storage available.  Though I wouldn’t put my music collection on here, I would make use of the cloud, which is what this device is aiming for.

Do realize that for $250, 16GB of storage is great compared to a 16GB iPad 3 that starts at $500.

Hardware buttons

The only hardware buttons on the Nexus 7 are the power and volume controls.  The home, back, and open apps buttons are software buttons on the screen.  So if an app locks up, you may not be able to hit the home button as it is locked up as well.  I have not had that problem yet, but it is something to think about.

It is getting harder to find what is bad about the Nexus 7.  I guess probably I just haven’t come across more yet.

 

THE UGLY

This section is about features of the Nexus 7 that are not bad, but either they make using the device awkward or something in the software needs improvement.

Headphone Jack

To put it simply, the Nexus 7 is basically a giant iPod touch, minus iOS, a physical home button, and the shiny aluminum back.  If you have an iPod touch, the headphone jack on both devices  is on the bottom next to the port for data transfer and charging.  It would have been nice to have it on top like what the iPad has since stock Jelly Bean desktop does not use the accelerometer to switch between landscape and portrait mode.

User Interface

Stock Jelly Bean does not take advantage of the accelerometer to switch between landscape and portait view of the desktop like you can on the iPad.  It also is limited to 5 home screens, which do not jump from 1 to 5 or 5 to 1 automatically.  In that case you have to scroll through 2-4 to get to the other side.  I overcame this problem and installed “Go Launcher”, which allows me to scroll back and forth, make up to 9 home screens, and can view in landscape and portrait modes.

App Compatibility

As with other Android devices, there are apps that are incompatible with the Nexus 7.  Now it is understandable if an app that works with the phone won’t work since there is no phone function on the Nexus 7, but I am talking about apps that the developers just have not updated to say that it is compatible.  Techrepublic and ZDNet, both owned by CBS Interactive, are notoriously known, at least to me, to be “incompatible” with certain Android devices.  Luckily I can side load them and they work fine.

The Nexus 7 basically has all the features of an Android smartphone, minus the phone part.  So most of the apps should be compatible, it’s mainly the developers who choose what they want their apps to run on.

No 3G/4G

The Nexus 7 is a WiFi model only.  If you think about it, adding 3G/4G capability would only add to the cost of the device, which can be seen in the 3G/4G capable iPad models.  I know some people would be willing to pay more for that ability, but then you get into the costs of service and where you can get service and all that other nasty stuff.  For basically $200 or $250, you’re getting a good deal.  For me, I would just use the tethering function on my phone.  Easy as that.

Screen issues

Some people have reported that the back of the Nexus 7 has been coming off.  One person investigated and found that the screws that hold the screen shut were not tightened all way, as in just turning the screws a couple times so that they are in the hole, but still have more turns to go.  I have not experienced this problem yet and I hope I won’t have to.

The issue that I face is when I am reading stuff on the Nexus 7 in bed with the brightness turned all the way down.  I can see when viewing webpages with a lot of whitespace the screen flicker a little bit as if its trying to stay lit.  It is not a big issue as I don’t see it during the day as there is a lot more light around me.  I’m hoping it is a software issue where a patch can be made to fix the problem.

NFC/Android Beam

The Nexus 7 comes equipped with an NFC chip to be able to do data transfer using Android Beam.  Basically you take the Nexus 7 and have it touch another Android device that uses Android Beam and you can send webpages, apps, music, etc. to that other device.  This technology is also being used for Google Wallet, which is loaded on the Nexus 7.  I tried to get it to work with my Galaxy S II and was only partially successful.  I think either it was because Samsung uses a slightly different version or else that my phone was rooted that it didn’t work too well.  I will say that the Nexus 7 responded very well when it detected my phone, but it was hard to get the phone to send data to the Nexus 7.  If I had a Galaxy Nexus, it probably would work better since that is a pure Android phone.

No Micro-SD Slot

Many other Android devices allow you to expand the storage capacity with the addition of a micro-SD memory card that you can move apps to or hold music and movies on.  The Nexus 7 has no slot for that as it would impact upon the performance and security of the device.  Some developers don’t want their apps put on an SD card and also it can slow the system since the card has to be read for data, which may not take very long, but it might eat up battery power over time.  I do not know the official reasons, I am only giving my thoughts on it.

No Flash!

OMG!!! THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!!!  HOW CAN WE SURVIVE WITHOUT FLASH?!?!

Well, in the 2 weeks that I have had it, I haven’t felt the loss.  Many of the websites have been converting to HTML5 so it can be accessible on iOS devices.  Also Adobe will not be working on mobile Flash anymore, so it’s good that Jelly Bean was built to not worry about it.

 

CONCLUSION

Well, that is a big description of the Nexus 7 in the good, bad, and ugly.  There are a lot of other features that I probably should point out, but I don’t want to give away all of them, that should be done by you.  The Nexus 7 is a very fast, compact, and fun tablet to use.  I’ve been using it more than my iPad.  The Nexus 7 is a lot nicer to read in bed as it doesn’t weigh as much as an iPad, which I hear from a lot of people as being a problem.  I can hold the Nexus 7 solidly with one hand and it won’t come out.  It’s also nice to throw into my bag and take it to work or other places.

So if you have an iPad already, I say go out and get this tablet and experience the best of both worlds.  If you’re looking for an awesome Android tablet for the first time, go for the Nexus 7.  It is priced right and you get a lot of power.  While other manufacturers make bigger tablets, the Nexus 7 is currently the only Android tablet with the latest OS version.  This way you can keep up to date on new and existing apps that will run on Jelly Bean, unlike the others where they become obsolete so quickly that the number of apps that support the older versions of Android are falling.

This is a good buy.  You can find the Nexux 7 at the Google Play Store here.

You can also find the Nexus 7 at several retail stores in your area.

HAVE FUN AND GEEK OUT!!!

Follow me on Twitter: BrianBooher and ModernDayComps

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