Tag Archive | Review

Review: 2012 iPad

Hardware
The standout feature of the new iPad is its ultra-high definition Retina display. Apple managed to squeeze a 2048 x 1536 resolution screen into just 9.7 inches. The screen is by far the best display I have ever seen and nothing even comes close to matching it. If the previous iPad didn’t melt away as you were using it, the new iPad certainly will. Colors pop even more on the new display and even when closely examining the device, it is hard to distinguish the individual pixels. One challenge with this new display is capturing it on camera, it is really something you have to experience for yourself.

Greater resolution comes at the cost performance, so Apple put a new chip called the A5X chip in the new iPad. The A5X has a quad core graphics processor, and although Apple’s iPad devices have never been lacking in speed, Apple’s newest device is no exception. The A5X more than adequately compensates for any potential loss in performance due to the high resolution of the display. The potential for gaming on the new iPad has also gotten brighter now that games can play faster and better looking than ever.

The third generation iPad is also available in a WiFi + 4G version. Apple included support for HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and LTE. Unfortunately, the LTE is carrier specific, so you have to choose what carrier’s LTE network you will be using. Still, LTE is blazing fast and it is a very good addition to the new iPad.

A better screen, a faster processor, and LTE drain battery life like nobody’s business, so Apple increased the capacity of the new iPad’s battery by 70%. Interestingly, Apple managed to increase the capacity without increasing the physical size of the battery. All this means that the new iPad keeps the same battery life of its predecessor with one caveat, it takes about twice as long to charge. in practice, this hasn’t bothered me because the iPad already has such extremely good battery life, but it is still something you may want to keep in mind when charging the new iPad.

Apple also upgraded the rear camera on the new iPad, giving it the 5 MP sensor of the iPhone 4 and the optics of the iPhone 4S, making it relatively decent camera if you can brave looking like a fool while taking pictures with a device larger than your face. The new camera also shoots 1080p video, interestingly something the 5MP shooter on the iPhone 4 never could do. Sadly, Apple didn’t bother to give the front facing FaceTime camera an upgrade which is my one and only real disappointment with the new device.

Software
Very little has changed on the software side of the new iPad. Although the new iPad is the first device to originally ship with iOS 5.1 the differences are minor, an updated Camera app for iPad, Photo Stream photo deletion, and battery life improvements are the standout features, but the third-gen iPad has one extra feature, Siri Dictation. While not Siri for iPad, the speech-to-text technology can now be used throughout the OS by tapping a button on the software keyboard similar to how iPhone 4S users are accustomed to do. This is a really great feature and it can make typing for long periods of time quicker and easier. While not perfectly accurate, it works well enough to be used often throughout the course of a day.

Camera
I took a few sample shots with the rear camera of the new iPad. I am not an
expert photographer, but some of the images seemed a little grainy to me, still this camera is a huge upgrade over the iPad 2’s rear camera.

Conclusion
One last thing about the new iPad is probably the most controversial part of the whole product, the name. Apple calls the third-gen iPad simply, “The new iPad.” Apple ditched the number after the “iPad” in favor of simplifying the name and making the naming scheme of the iPad consistent with that of iPods, Macs and Apple TV. The move gets rid of the unsustainable system of naming that Apple had going in previous devices. this is a positive change too much focus was placed on the naming of Apple’s latest device and in the case of the iPhone 4S, the fact that it wasn’t named “iPhone 5” hurt its reception by many who expected an “iPhone 5.” The new iPad is the largest update of the iPad since the original iPad itself. No matter what iPad you are using, it is worth at least considering an upgrade, especially of you do lots of reading on your device. If you haven’t gotten an iPad yet, there has never been a better time to buy an iPad.

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Review: Cosmonaut

The Cosmonaut from Studio Neat aims to be the first in a new breed of stylus. It is not shaped like a pencil or a pen, which its creators say promotes holding the stylus at the tip and therefore touching the touch screen which results in unwanted interaction. Instead, the Cosmonaut is shaped like a whiteboard marker, making it a better fit for touch screens because you instinctively hold it differently.

Design: The Cosmonaut is very minimal, only using three different visible materials on the outside. You have a choice of buying it with an aluminum end cap or a wood end cap. The aluminum end cap is a particularly nice touch as it matches the aluminum on Apple devices. The only visible branding is the word “COSMONAUT” etched towards the back-end of the stylus. It is only about half a centimeter taller than an iPhone, so it should fit into your pocket just as easily.

Feel: The stylus is surprisingly heavy, but it is not much of a concern for practical usage. The surface of the stylus is tactile and won’t let fingerprints stick to it, unfortunately bits of dust and other small items will cling to its rubbery surface. The surface of the tip of the stylus is very smooth which makes using the cosmonaut on glass surfaces an absolute joy.

Use: The Cosmonaut is more useful than you may think. The stylus comes in handy while editing photos as it is more accurate than your finger and gives you more control. When using the Cosmonaut to draw on an iPad, its original use case, it shines. The tip glides across the glass like a piece of ice. The Cosmonaut also comes in handy when you are wearing gloves because you can just pull out the stylus instead of having to take off your gloves. It is also just a nice change from using your finger to manipulate touch surfaces, although it really isn’t quite as practical for everything as just using your finger. 

Conclusion: The Cosmonaut is a solid stylus, the best I’ve ever used. However, its use case is limited because your finger is great for doing most tasks on an iPad or trackpad, but if you do a lot of drawing or photo editing, it might be just the thing you are looking for. The Cosmonaut retails for $25 at Studio Neat’s website and comes with your choice of a wood or aluminum end cap.

Good Stuff

  • The design is nearly flawless
  • The tip glides very smoothly across glass
Bad Stuff
  • The body can attract dust particles

iOS vs Android

I am tackling the big one this time. iOS vs. Android I plan to update this document continually as new versions of these operating systems arrive. 

 

Fragmentation

 

OS Fagmentation
Deep inside Cupertino, California a man is sitting in a dark room. A door opens and a man steps in. “You asked to see me, sir?”
“Yes, launch it. Launch it now.”
“Yes sir.”
The man steps out of the room and closes the door leaving the room dark. Still sitting in his chair the other man smiles. 
A few minutes later a blogger plugs his iPhone into his computer and sees a new update come up. Without updating he goes to his blog and makes a quick post. Just moments later a news reporter gets an email. He reads it, then quickly rushes to his computer and writes a quick post. The header: ‘The next version of iOS is here.’ 
This is a huge benefit of iOS, updates are pushed across all devices immediately. With Android, Google announces an update that everyone knew was coming. But who can get it? Only a Nexus One or Nexus S user, and only after a few days as the update rolls out. Then … the long wait. A month or two later the next premiere Android device gets the update, potentially stripped of a key feature or two and slapped with the manufacture’s custom skin and the carrier’s unremovable crapware. Then another wait… This is fragmentation, it is here and it cannot be ignored. 

 

Screen Fragmentation
Different Android devices have different screen sizes: 3.5, 3.8, 4.0, and 4.3 inches, just to name a few. App developers have to make their apps for all the different screen sizes and resolutions. When Rovio Mobile ported their popular game Angry Birds to Palm Web OS for iOS it took a matter of days, however when they ported Angry Birds to Android the process took months. Why? Because of the number of different evices that they had to support, test, and debug the game on. On iPhone there is one screen size for the iPhone and iPod touch, and one for the iPad. Now there is Retina Display resolution which has made things a bit more difficult, b out still not what android developers have to deal with. 

 

Button Fragmentation
All Android handset manufacturers have different button layouts, icons, and labels. Do you really need a search button, a back button, and a menu button? How about just a home button? Back buttons are built into apps and keep your fingers inside the screen perimeter. On iOS devices there is one main function button and that is the home button, everything else is built into the software. 

 

Market Fragmentation
Android has many different stores for apps and other media: Android Market, Get Jar, AndAppStore, SlideME, AndroidFreeware.org, Brothersoft, and Androlib, Handango’s Shop, and OnlyAndroid, just to name a few. While this may drive competition, what developer would put different prices for the same app on different stores? Not many developers. Just to be sure though, you have to shop around. Great, so buying apps makes you shop around and look at different stores to get the lowest price, not fun. Another thing, anyone can download iTunes whether they have an iOS device or not, or they can see app’s pages on the web, but Android has no such feature. Also, there are no gift cards for the Android market, but with iTunes there are plenty of gift cards. So, do you want Android apps for Christmas? Not under the tree. iOS apps? For sure. But, on Android you can use many more types of payment than you can on iTunes, like billing your wireless account (on supported carriers)

 

– Winner: iOS –

 

Price
People tend to look at an iPhone as if it were much more expensive as a comparable Android phone, but it is not. A nice Android phone usually costs $200, with a two year contract (more on that in another post). So does a good iPhone, you can opt for the more expensive double-the-storage model though, but you can also get last year’s model which has the latest iOS, minus a couple new features for $100, with about the same feature set and technology as $100 Android phones. People complain about the data plan for iPhone, but for anyone who would really use an iPhone enough would end up getting a data plan. How many people do you think have a $200 Android phone but don’t buy a data plan? Not having a data plan ruins the experience of the phone and drastically reduces where and what you can use your phone for. Buying a data plan is a necessity for anyone serious about owning a smartphone. 

 

– Winner: Draw (For me, not necessarily for you) –

 

Volume Sold
Reports say that Android has been sold on more devices than iOS on iPhones, iPods, and iPads. What about those cheap $100 Android phones, they count into that equation, but should they? The people buying the $100 Android feature phones are not going to use their phone the same amount of time that people buying Android smart phones will. So it is my personal belief that the numbers of Android devices activated should be split between smart phones, feature phones, and other devices. However, more Android devices have been sold than iOS devices, so this one goes to Android. 

 

– Winner: Android –

 

Apps
This is one of the big ones. But there are a few things I am going to look at specifically, app quality, the number of apps and growth of those numbers, and what apps are allowed to do. 

 

App Quality
A quick scroll down a list of apps shows many abnormal prices such as $7.32 and $0.87. I personally have no clue why this is, but it is one factor in app quality. App developers for Android can make an app that, quite frankly, sucks, crashes, and has very few features and put it on the market. This Android’s system allows for apps like this which are detrimental to the customer’s experience. Additionally, developer are having a hard time selling apps on Android and instead are opting for ad-supported versions. This is not good for the user experience and it is a serious problem if developers can’t sell paid apps. One more thing, Android apps can have explict content and iOS apps cannot. For a parent giving their child a mobile device this makes iOS a more viable choice. 

 

App Statistics
This one is simple, on phones currently iOS has over 350,000 apps and Android has around 150,000 and most of them are junk and porn. However, Android is growing faster than iOS is, and Apple has had more downloads than Android. Then on tablet, iOS has 65,000 apps built specifically for the iPad, whereas Honeycomb has under 100 apps.
Note: I will update this post with current details as more details come out. 

 

– Winner: iOS –

 

App Permissions
Another simple one, Android apps have more system access than apps on iOS do. Take Google Voice for instance. Google Voice has an app on the App Store and Th. Android Market, but only the Android app can be fully integrated into the user experience. Again, apps like Swype can revolutionize the way people input words, but only on Android. This is a huge boon for Android. 

 

– Winner: Decide on your own –

 

UI Polish
This is one of the big differences between iOS and Android OS, iOS has an amount of polish that is unseen in Android today. While Google seems to be trying to add new features to its OS, Apple adds features a bit slower, but with more polish. For example, Android had major text messaging bugs that are further detailed here: http://engt.co/ePHDgU, these bugs should have never got past testing and debugging. 

 

– Winner: iOS –

 

Conclusion
I am not going to post a final winner, this is your choice. iOS and Android are two very different beasts, and soon everyone will have to choose which side to be on. The decision that people are going to have to make is very important because switching between these two platforms is not easy, in fact it is very difficult. Have you ever tried switching from a PC to a Mac, or from a Mac to a PC? It wasn’t easy was it? The same thing is happening with iOS and Android. Mobile is the future of computing and everyone is making a decision. Consider yourself informed. 

Windows Phone 7 First Impressions

•First off, when you first do anything on a new Windows Phone you notice all of the beautiful transitions moving in and out of the screen. If iOS and Android want to stay on top they will have to work very hard to get some great looking transitions in with their next software releases. 
•Next off, Pivots. Pivots were confusing to use at first but grew easier to use over time. Pivots look much better than their alternatives such as tabs and filters but were not as easy to use. This is Microsoft’s first crack at this, so this could easily be improved in the next version. 
•Windows Phone 7 has far less crapware and carrier and manufacturer tampering than Android but not as little as iOS. 
•People and contact integration rocks, this is what iOS needs. Seeing what’s up with your friends is great for social communication and know what is happening in their lives before you contact them. 
•Featured songs and apps backgrounds in the Marketplace were distracting and do not benefit the user. It could also be potentially embarrassing if someone looks over your shoulder and sees and huge Taylor Swift background. Just throwing that one out there.
•No push notifications, multitasking, home screen backgrounds, or cut, copy, and paste. All of this is excusable due to the fact that the OS has been out for just a little while. Additionally there is no AirPrint or AirPlay esque alternative. 
•Notifications on the lock screen are less noticeable than even on iOS. 
•Needs a better Mac OS X ‘home base’ like iTunes is for iOS. 
•Search button only takes you to Bing and is very limited. It does not benefit the phone aesthetically and has a limited use case. 
•Physical back buttons are better as software back button like on iOS. Simplicity is key. 
•Zune does not support landscape orientation and is not visually pleasing. 
•Internet Explorer stinks and everyone knows it. It is not any better on a mobile platform. 
•Tablet support. Windows Phone 7 has no tablet support and if it was on a tablet it would stink, but so does Windows 7 on a tablet. Microsoft needs something to fill this gap, and fast. 
Overall, Windows Phone 7 has great potential, but has to be improved quickly to keep up with iOS and Android.