REVIEW: MUJJO GALAXY S3/S4 POUCH

We take a look at this very classy, hand-made pouch for the Galaxy S3 or S4. It even plays nice with the Nexus 4.

INTERVIEW WITH CEO OF WHIMS, REVOLUTIONARY STATUS UPDATING APP

You've seen Instagram. It's has changed the way people share pictures forever. Now though, sharing something other than a photo seems boring doesn't it? Not any more.

REVIEW: ALUPEN STYLUS

Looking for a solid, reliable stylus that practically oozes minimalist style? You might be interested in the AluPen.

GALAXY TAB 2 7.0 REVIEW

One of the best entrants to the budget-tablet markets, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, from Samsung is good quality, affordable and stylish.

NEXUS 4 REVIEW

We take a look at the Google Nexus 4, manufactured by LG. The smartphone packs in a super-fast quad-core processor, a 720p HD screen and 2GB of RAM, as well as two cameras and a sparkly back glass panel. Take a look at what we thought.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Review: Nexus 7 (2013), Qi Charger and Poetic Case

There's currently a battle going on for your hands after you've put your smartphone down. Apple, Google and Samsung (as well as many, many others) want in, but in the end it comes down to you. What do you look for in a tablet? A sleek design? A smart operating system with plenty of apps? Decent specifications? Or maybe just a good price?


What if all those aspects were available, and in one tablet? Enter; the Google Nexus 7 (2013).

The first generation Nexus 7 really blazed a trail for other manufacturers to follow. Amazon got in on the act, and Apple eventually released an iPad Mini to the market.

With the first-gen Nexus 7, Google did really well, but sadly the specifications started to pale in comparison to other devices hitting the market, it began to slow down and it was time for a refresh.

New and old; on the left, the new Nexus 7, on the right
the original
In the second half of last year, Google did just that. We got a device with not only quality specifications, but a sleek new design to tempt the fashion-conscious.

We're going to take a look at the affordable tablet from Google again, in this order:

1. Design
2. Specifications
3. Operating System
4. Performance
5. Accessories

1. Design

Unlike the original Nexus 7, this tablet is matte-plastic centric. It doesn't feel cheap though, it feels pretty premium, and that was something missing in the 2012 version.


There's two cameras, one on the front (1.2MP) and another on the back (5MP). Both are pretty decent shooters, but they're nothing compared to a good smartphone camera or a DSLR or bridge camera, as you would expect.

On the bottom and top we find some stereo speakers, which produce some quality audio if you're listening to your music or watching a movie. Up on top there's the headphone jack too.


On the bottom there's also a micro-USB slot, which has the ability to power USB OTG, allowing you to plug in keyboards, mice and gamepads (provided you have a USB OTG cable).

Around the front, it's not much more than just a black shiny surface, only spoiled by the off-center camera.

It's slightly longer than the original Nexus 7, and it's also considerably slimmer, which makes it look rather lanky when held next to the 2012 version. However, it's much more comfortable to hold with one hand this way.

Just a touch slimmer than the previous model
On the left side, you'll find the volume rocker, power button, and - depending if you bought the 3G version or not - the micro-SIM card slot.


2. Specifications

Arguably, the battle of the latest piece of tech is won and lost on the specification of it. Luckily, the Nexus 7 is still on good standing as far as they are concerned.

There's 2GB of RAM, a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor from Qualcomm, as mentioned a 5MP camera (back), a 1.2MP camera (front), a 1080p full-HD screen at the resolution of 1200x1920, which translates to 323 pixels per inch.

Translucency is there, you just have to find it
Speaking of the screen, it is truly magnificent. Going straight from a 2012 Nexus 7 to the 2013 version, and you'll notice the difference in quality immediately. There's also a 100% colour gamut, so the colours look very natural.

Also inside are some of the emerging wireless technologies that are going to be made more of this year. This is of course wireless charging and NFC, plus Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy).


3. Operating System

As this is made by Google, you'll be getting stock Android straight out the box. When you turn it on you'll be prompted to update to Android 4.4.x, and so you get all the features and under-the-hood improvements that have been made since Android 4.1 Jelly Bean straight away.

Again, being as Google control this tablet, you'll also get updated to the latest version of Android around a week after it's announced.

Ideal for multitasking
As are one of the many perks of owning a Nexus, is that you do get one of the fastest (if not the fastest) versions of the Android OS without any bloatware to take away precious storage space and performance speed.


In Android KitKat you'll be greeted with the new treats of translucent notification and navigation bars, as well as Immersive mode for when you're reading a book or watching a movie. In addition, you'll also get album artwork as the wallpaper of the lockscreen as well as advanced music controls.


Talking of translucency, it actually isn't automatically enabled in the stock launcher, so if you want to enable it you'll have to install a third party launcher that allows it, like Apex or Nova.


4. Performance

Some Android tablets are often slated for being laggy, or stuttering in performance when there's a graphically challenging task at hand. However, with the 2013 Nexus 7, this isn't the case. We haven't experienced a moment of lag yet when browsing the internet on Chrome, playing Real Racing 3 or browsing the social networks.


Battery lasted well in day-to-day tests, with us managing to average out about eight hours screen-on time before needing a recharge. This was with around 30 minutes of Real Racing 3 and general web browsing. Using the charger provided, it'll take around 2-3 hours for a full charge cycle.


5. Accessories

One of the most frustrating parts of owning a Nexus, you'll realize, is that there are a lack of accessories for them when compared to the iPad. Thankfully though, we got our hands of two of the most interesting and special pieces of kit available right now to help you carry on spending.

Firstly we have the Qi Universal Wireless Charger Plate, which, as the name suggests, allows you to take advantage of the Nexus 7 2 wireless charging capability (or any device that is Qi-enabled). It's a nice addition to the already high-tech slab, and allows you to charge it without any cable quibbles. It works with the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 4 too, if you're wondering.

Simply plug the plate in, and then place any Qi-enabled device on top to charge
However, as is the problem with wireless chargers at the moment, it does heat it up quite considerably. Although, if you're just looking for a quick top up every now and again, there really shouldn't be a problem.

It's just a bit smaller than the Nexus 7 (that's the case by the way)
Next, there's the issue of the case. There's quite a few out there, on Amazon et al, but which one is best, and which one is the most functional?

Personally, I chose the Poetic Slimline case, and for around £10, I think I got a good deal. The design is simplistic, and also as the name would have you believe; slim. There's hardly any bulk added, and it provides a fair bit of functionality as it utilizes the smart-wake function when you open the case (unlike the official cases from Google and Asus).

No bulk added, perfect
There were concerns that the magnets used to turn the screen on and off would malfunction when you flip the cover around to the back, and that the screen would turn off again. Many buyers reported this problem, however, in all different orientations, and no matter how much I've tried, I can't get it to turn the screen off from the back.

Overall, I couldn't recommend this case more. It's stylish, functional, and a bargain. Perfect for keeping your Nexus 7 safe when throwing it in your bag. However, I don't know how much it would go in the way of protecting your tablet if you dropped it on the floor.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Three Notable SmartWatches at CES 2014

CES 2014 has come and gone now, and while flexible TVs and waterproof phones seem to have been stealing the limelight, you could have been mistaken for thinking the show was purely a wearable-showroom.

Here we've got some of the notable unveilings listed here, with new tech coming out from Sony, Pebble and LG.

Let's start with Sony. They've strayed away from the SmartWatch 2 design and gone for a more Nike Fuelband-meets-Xperia design.
 The 'SmartBand' will launch this spring, and will house the smallest chip Sony has ever made (the Core), and they promise to bring this technology to other devices in the coming months. The SmartBand will also keep data of where you took photos and keep other important life moments.
 Possibly will be viewed as a journal with a fitness tracking capability.

Next, we have the new steel Pebble smartwatch. Finally the leading smartwatch in terms of volume of sales (competing closely with Samsung's Galaxy Gear), looks like a watch. Still lacking touchscreen capabilities, but some may prefer that. Now it's a steel-orientated design compared to the previous outlandish-plastic.

Finally, we have the LG LifeBand - which is the company's second venture into the fitness tracking market - is set to be an all rounder when released soon. It  can track steps, calories burnt and even display notifications and show notifications from your connected device.

There were plenty of other revelations in the wearable department, including some exciting demos of the Oculus Rift.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Pebble Teases "Something Special" for CES 2014

There's no doubt that this year wearable-tech (especially smartwatches) will be a big hit among consumers, and Pebble is really the leader of the market thanks to a tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign.

Image credit: Pebble

Now though, the watch is coming up to its first birthday, and could do with a new lick of paint. With this in mind, Pebble have teased that "something special" will be revealed at CES 2014 this month.

Whether this will be new hardware or not remains to be seen. It could, alternatively, be the launch of the Pebble app store which has been highly anticipated by users of the watch for a while.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Archos and LG Preparing Smartwatches for CES 2014

The year of wearables is nearly upon us, where we expect to see all the big players introduce a wearable device. CES 2014 is where everything will begin, and we expect Archos and LG to bring in the first wave of the new year.

Archos' first slew of wearables will be announced at the technology festival, and should work with both Android and iOS devices. One of these said devices is going to come in at around £50 (or $82).

LG has also had a smartwatch leaked, styled very similarly to the new Archos watch, which could debut at CES 2014.

Sony are also being tipped to release a new SmartWatch soon, possibly also coming at CES 2014.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Google Reportedly Negotiating with Audi for Android Car Infotainment Deal

It was rumoured today that Google and Audi have been developing an Android system for the company's upcoming car models. The Android OS would be adapted to suit in-car-screens and would provide notifications, all the way to movies and even LTE compatibility.


This isn't surprising, as Apple unveiled their 'iOS in the car' feature a few months ago, which would allow car makers to implement iOS on otherwise basic car radio systems for relaying of maps, music and other useful apps like Messages.

The new Audi deal could be revealed as soon as next month, at CES 2014, and right now it would honestly be surprising if we didn't see Google provide some sort of Android integration to cars.

Friday, 20 December 2013

A Look Back at 2013; Context

This year has seen the introduction of many amazing gadgets with outstanding internals grace our screens (and when the one is right for you, your hands, wrists, or even eyes).

What you'll be seeing through Google Glass
However, in many of the latest devices we're seeing one massive pattern emerging to their success; context. The smartphones, tablets, glasses and watches of this year have proven that if they can be contextually aware, they will have a great chance of success in a very crowded market.

Google seems to have gotten in there first, with the introduction of Google Now back in July 9th 2012, and while many expected it may just be a rival to Apple's Siri, which launched October 4th 2011, it turned into something rather different.

Google Now's cards
Over the past year, we've watched Google Now go from strength to strength in the context-game. There's your transportation times, notifications when online orders have been shipped and the humble weather (plus the never-ending list of what Google Now is being updated to do.)

Nobody's beating Google Now at context right now, but many are trying to replicate the sort of system that's going on around it.

Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One very recently, in November, and the console is almost an all-seeing all-knowing master over your living room. If you walk in, and you have your own home-screen set up on the Xbox One, the device will take you straight to your place. However, if your other half walks in the Xbox will quickly realize that it's her and ask if she wants to switch to her own space. In this way, Microsoft have provided a quick-access home for your content on Xbox, and thus, bring you it in context.


Other points of development this year have been contextually-aware apps, especially for Android. Take Aviate (invite only) for an example. It uses all different sensors which come standard on your phone or tablet to adapt your home-screen when out or in, or whether you're in a restaurant or in bed. It brings you your favorite apps in the morning and the weather, along with your schedule, all without you really doing anything.

Cover and Aviate, respectively
Another good example is Cover (beta). Very recently released on the Play Store, it is a lock-screen replacement that brings up your most used apps (in a said situation), and then all you have to do is slide them across the screen to open them (unless you have a security lock). There's plenty of different occasions where the Cover will change, if you're at home, or you're out, if you're driving or you're at work. The more you use apps in one of the situations, the closer they'll appear to the top of the list.

Turning our attention to the hardware being released, and we find Google Glass. Possibly the perfect pairing for Google Now's context-goldmine, the information you need is automatically put in front of your eyes. Everything from the transport cards to the sports cards have made it. Now, fully-fledged RSS readers are making their way to the glasses too. Google Glass is going to set the world alight in 2014, if the price doesn't warn too many people off.


The next step for context software? On your wrists. There's already an array of smartwatches, from the likes of Sony and Samsung, but both lack actual functionality in the form of predicting what you'll want or do next. The market is waiting for Google to bring Now to your wrist, and then we have to count in Apple's ominous watch. With their recent acquisition of Topsy - who are the only other known company to index every single Tweet (ever) other than Twitter - how could they know any more about you?

Friday, 13 December 2013

Review: Pama Plug N Go External Battery Pack


At this time of year, you're going to be rushing around, buying presents, travelling to friend's and family's houses for parties and going out for meals. However, during this period your phone will be constantly running out of battery. Taking a few pictures, making some long calls for directions and using GPS for Google Maps, and you're most likely down to your last 30%.


You don't have a plug-point when you're rushing around, so what do you do? Well how about an external charger?

We've picked out the Pama Plug N Go external battery pack, which allows you to load it up with power when messing around at home and then charge your phone when needed.


What's so good about this battery pack is the overall design. It's very thin, maybe a touch thicker than the Nexus 5, and the build quality as far as touch and feel is very sleek.

It's outer metal body extends itself towards being something that's visually pleasing to have out in public, and there's even an LED screen to indicate how much juice you've got left.


Talking of juice, it's on the lower side of the external battery scale, holding 4000mAh, which will charge an iPhone 5S around two and a half times, or an Android phone one or two times if you have a lower capacity.


The battery pack charges via micro-USB with the help of a laptop, and charges fairly quickly (one of the perks of a lower capacity).


The pack contains a USB to micro-USB cable, micro-USB to Mini-B adapter, and USB to Apple 30-pin connector. You'll need an additional adapter to use the Lightening connector used in the later Apple models.

Overall I give this external pack 4 out of 5 stars. The build quality and general visual appeal make up a lot for the smaller capacity. You can purchase it here, and I advise you do as it really is a nice quality product.