Sunday, 28 July 2013

Nokia Lumia 1020 Specs: Cameraphone Perfection

lumia 1020

Nokia's premiere smartphone offering the Nokia Lumia 1020 is out on the market and has already received some positive reviews. It is especially targeted to those smartphone users who like to have  really good camera capabilities with their phone. In this regard, this Windows Phone 8 powered device boasts a 41MP camera. Yes, that's not a typo! Utilizing such a high end camera should result in fantastic pictures, so, let's take a deeper look at the phone's specs and see if it delivers.

The Lumia 1020 has a 4.5 inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 332 ppi. It runs on a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage which unfortunately cannot be increased. While these specs aren't necessarily mind blowing, the phone runs quite fast and one of the unique features of this phone is its ability to have a viewable screen even in direct sunlight. This is something we have yet to see in many other smartphones and is definitely a major plus for this device.

In terms of the overall design the power, volume and shutter buttons are located along the right edge while on the bottom of the phone there is the speaker and a micro usb charging port. One major drawback I found with this phone however, is the camera lens on the back. The lens is quite large as one might expect and as a result of this the phone has a piece jutting out at the back. This can be a bit irksome when handling the phone and certainly trying to rest it flat on any surface is not possible.

This smartphone comes  with a 2300mAh non removable battery which is a bit disappointing. Even though you do get a full days use with this phone without having to recharge, making it non removable similar to the HTC One does hurt the power users among us. Nokia has estimated that you can get about 13 hours of talk time and approximately 16 days of standby usage out of this phone.

Okay, so let's get to it. The main reason for this phone is undoubtedly the camera. It comes with a staggering 41MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, a Xenon flash and 6x digital zoom. The zoom on this camera is fantastic. The quality of the picture stays true and clear even at a very high zoom. Furthermore, two pictures are actually taken at the same time when you press the capture button. One of the pictures is the full res version and the other is a 5MP version. The smaller resolution picture is the one that you can then send to family and friends immediately through the usual internet resources. The full resolution pic however, can only be accessed later by plugging the phone through the usb into a computer. In addition to its camera capabilities this smartphone also takes 1080p video recordings.

Let's now move on to the apps. The Windows app store itself has about 160,000 apps currently available and while that's quite a large number, it pales in comparison to Android and iOs. In terms of camera apps there's the Pro Camera app, Creative Studio and Smart Camera among others. Utilizing the Pro Camera app you can manually adjust settings such as ISO, flash as well as the exposure.

Overall it could be said that in terms of the camera capabilities, this phone has no peers in the current market. Certainly, Nokia has targeted the camera enthusiasts with this particular smartphone offering and I don't think they will be disappointed. However, the less than stellar apps and the inability to expand the storage do count as drawbacks. In terms of availability, it's only available with AT&T for $299 on a two year contract. Yes, it is a pretty big commitment but as I said earlier if the camera is your main focus then this phone is definitely  for you. 

* Images courtesy piercedavid

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Pikmin 3: Fruit Foraging is Super Fun


The ever lovable Pikmin have returned in Pikmin 3, which will be released for the Wii U in North America on August 4th. The strategy game which casts you as a group of explorers having crash landed on an alien planet is back for its third installment. So, let's delve a little deeper shall we?

The basic storyline is that you command three explorers that have left their home planet in search of food. Unfortunately, the ship that they're travelling in crashes on an alien planet. The planet however, has an abundance of fruit which your team determines to harvest and carry back home. This is where the Pikmin come in to play. An agreement is struck between your team and the Pikmin where the Pikmin will help you gather fruit and spaceship parts, while you protect the Pikmin. In your role as protector, it is imperative that you gather all the Pikmin into the ship before nightfall. Failure to do so results in a frightening scene where predators devour your precious Pikmin.

Pikmin Trailer Courtesy Nintendo

The Pikmin themselves are of many different types. There are red Pikmin which are impervious to fire, white Pikmin which are very quick runners as well as many other types. Two new types to the franchise are rock Pikmin which can be thrown at your enemies and flying Pikmin that can reach otherwise inaccessible areas. It is up to you to decide which Pikmin to use at what juncture in the game in order to progress.

The different areas of the Pikmin world constitute the levels in the game. The main game itself lasts approximately ten hours which, to many gamers, will be dissapointingly short. There is however a mission mode which is ostensibly more difficult than the main game and definitely forces you to devise a proper strategy to complete. In addition to this, there is a multiplayer mode where you can go up against a friend. 

Overall this game is quite a well made one with beautiful scenery and awe inspiring monsters to challenge. The variety of Pikmin available also challenges one to develop the required strategy so as to defeat the varied enemies and complete in game puzzles. For those of you that have enjoyed previous versions of Pikmin, picking this game up is really a no brainer.

For info on pricing and more, check  it out here. Hope you guys enjoyed this post and don't forget to leave a comment below.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Evernote 5 Beta Overview

Evernote has released the beta version of Evernote 5 for Windows desktop. The very popular notetaking software is currently allowing users to try it out before its full release later this year. One of the first things that is noticeable with Evernote 5 is that the user interface has been redesigned to give it a more modern appearance.

Additionally, there are quite a few new features one of which is named Card View. Basically, the notes have been redesigned to appear as cards with a picture and some text below it. It looks beautiful and it definitely seems very Pinterest like.

Another interesting upgrade is termed Atlas. This new feature catergorizes notes based upon the geographical location where they were first taken down. Again, the Evernote designers have chosen to use cards as the display mechanism. One thing that is disappointing though is that there still isn't any right to left button although this could change as Evernote 5 is still in beta mode.

Evernote 5 Promo

For those of you that wish to check out all the new features as well as download the beta version of Evernote 5, you can check it out here. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comment box below.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Unboxing

Samsung have just released another tablet onto the market with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. It's got three different versions with a 7 inch, 8 inch and 10 inch screen. Yes, they  are releasing a lot of these devices basically flooding the market but if there is a demand then Samsung will surely continue to supply them. So, how does it stack up you ask? Well, let's take a deeper look into the 8 inch version of this tablet.

The Tab 3 runs on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system and it has a 1.5 GHz dual core processor. It comes with 1GB of RAM and 16 GB of memory. This could be increased using a 64GB SD card. In addition to the above, there is a 1.3MP front facing camera and a 5MP rear camera.

Taking a look at these specs, one could say that it isn't exactly earth shattering and one would be right. I would say though that the performance of the Galaxy Tab could prove to be surprising so only after some time using it under various conditions would we get the full picture. For now though, let's just watch the unboxing vid courtesy of Technobuffalo. Hope you guys enjoy.

*Image courtesy jfingas

Monday, 15 July 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Specs

S4 Zoom
Ever wanted more from the camera on your phone? Then the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom might be for you. It's basically a fusion between the Galaxy S4 Mini and the Samsung camera. Yes, I know, it sounds a bit strange but let's take a look at its specifications and functionalities to see if we can understand it better.

S4 Zoom Unboxing courtesy Phonedog

First off, it runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean  and boasts a 1.5 GHz Dual Core processor. It has a 4.3 inch qHD Super AMOLED display with a 2330mAh removable battery and 1.5 GB of RAM. In terms of its design it looks like the S4 mini when viewed from the front while it takes the look of a camera when viewed from behind. While the aforementioned specs aren't anything to write home about, this phone really is all about the camera, which we'll take a look at now.

The S4 Zoom has a 1.9 MP front facing camera for self portraits and video chat while it sports a 16MP rear facing camera with f /3.1-6.3, 24-240mm and 10x optical zoom. You won't find any other smartphone with that amount of zoom so the pictures you take will look quite a bit better than your usual smartphone in normal light conditions.

There are also a ton of scene modes to select on this device. Modes like HDR, Panorama, Fireworks, Drama and Landscape are available on this device. There is also a Smart Mode Suggest feature which takes a look at the scene you wish to capture and then suggests the appropriate mode. All these features are quite good and do add a lot to this phone.

Since this phone is an Android device, there are many apps that you can download to edit and share your photos. This gives it an added dimesion when compared to your normal point and shoot camera and is a definite advantage.

The Zoom sports a larger CMOS sensor than normal smartphones but when compared to DSLR cameras it really comes in as just about average. I guess this is to be expected since this is also a phone and not a dedicated camera. The downside to this phone's philosophy is that it gets caught between two worlds's, is it a smartphone or is it a camera. In the end, it just averages in both departments so only those of us that are really interested in the S4 line of devices would probably pick this one up.

Do you like the S4 Zoom? Give your feedback on it in the comment section below. 

*Image courtesy Samsung Belgium

Monday, 8 July 2013

Cool Tricks to Extend Battery Life on the S4

Galaxy S4

For those of us that have the awesome Samsung Galaxy S4, a major question is how to extend its battery life. The S4 comes with a removable 2600mAh battery which does work very well in most cases. However, for the power users among us, more capacity may be required. Let's take a look at the options we have below.

Firstly, there are some general guidelines to use when trying to extend your battery life. The S4 comes with an option to go into power saving mode. Obviously, this could be the first thing you do and for some it's all that is required. In this mode the screen brightness is reduced and the colours will change among other things. Considering that the Super AMOLED screen is the major battery life hog on this phone, using power saving mode will definitely improve your battery's performance.

In addition to power saving mode, disabling some of the flashier features on this phone can go a long way in improving battery performance. Some of these extras are things like Air Gesture, GPS and Sync. In order to do this, swipe down from the top and tap the upper right hand corner. All the features will come up on the screen and you can then disable the ones you want to.

There is also the option of purchasing an extended battery. These are batteries made by various manufacturers for the S4 specifically. These batteries are usually larger than the original and often you may have to use the case provided by the company for the battery to fit properly. This should not be a surprise as extended batteries offer increased capacity and consequently will be larger in size.

A good example of an extended battery is ZeroLemon's offering for the Galaxy S4. It comes in at a whopping 7500mAh which is approximately three times the original value. So far this is rated as the largest extended battery on the market and users have noted that even with heavy usage the S4  is still funtional for days on end. These extended batteries tend to come with full warranties and are usually available for many different carriers both locally and internationally.

Okay guys, that's about it for this post. I know that there are many more tips to extend the S4's battery life, so please feel free to include them in the comments section below.

 *Image courtesy Janitors


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Ouya Console Specs

The $99 dollar Ouya console has hit stores  for some days now. It got its initial funding from Kickstarter of approximately $8.6 million. The Ouya console was billed as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive consoles such as the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Before we check out the unboxing vid, let's examine some of the Ouya's specs.

The Ouya console runs on Android OS and has a NVidia Tegra 3 quad core processor as its powerhouse. It has 1 GB of  RAM with 8GB of storage which you can increase using a USB. While that's not bad, it's also not that great either. Julie Uhrman, CEO of Ouya, has stated that there will be hardware updates on an annual basis to ensure that the console is kept up to date.

The design of the console is indeed very attractive. Designed by Yves Behar, the Ouya is a surprisingly small box with beautiful curved edges and  its overall size is comparable to the Roku. It has  a USB port, ethernet, power cable port and a port for the HDMI cable which ships with the console. The controller has two analog sticks, a directional pad, a touchpad in the center,shoulder buttons and trigger controls at the back. Some consumers have complained about the touchpad being too sensitive to use for navigation while there are no uses for it in gameplay as there aren't any games using the feature yet. This may change in the future though as developers come to terms with what they can accomplish on the Ouya.

Speaking of game developers, one of the main features of the Ouya is the fact that it runs on Android which is an open platform. It can therefore be heavily modded if you know what you're doing and this is also great for independent game developers. Ouya has made it possible for anyone to publish a game which in my view is great and will encourage creativity in the kind of games being published. There is one restriction in game development in that users must have the opportunity to download and play a free demo version of any game before they decide to make the full purchase.

There are currently about 200 games in the Ouya store and while many of them are currently not up to scratch, there are a few nice titles. First off we have the more well known titles such as Final Fantasy, Sonic the Hedgehog and You Don't Know Jack. Added to these are games like Beast Boxing Turbo and Chrono Blade. Yes, pretty slim pickings as of now but I do expect this to pick up in the future.

Overall the Ouya console is okay but it falls short in a few categories most notable of which are the games being currently offered.  Since it is a new platform, I expect this to pick up soon so the Ouya does indeed have great potential. It is certainly priced right and for the hackers and indie game fans among us, it is a great buy. For the general consumer though, it needs more time to develop. As promised earlier, check out the unboxing vid courtesy of IGN below and feel free to leave your questions and comments.

*Images Courtesy Urustar