Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Gadgets

Is this how Apple sees the future? The iWatch that uses holograms

By Stefano on February 28th, 2013

So an ad for the Apple iWatch has just landed on YouTube. However before you get too excited it is portraying a product that the ad creators don’t think will be on sale until 2019.

The gadgets is the much talked about Apple iWatch and this clever video shows how someone might use the gadget to check social media, transfer images from a camera, make a video call and a load more.

It is pretty convincing stuff, though how realistic an a watch creating interactive holograms is I have no idea.

For more on the watch go here and to see some mock ups check this story.



Gadgets

A sneak preview as to what the Apple iWatch might look like (and it looks stunning)

By Stefano on February 18th, 2013

iwatch-designs

Of course, at the moment no one knows what Apple’s iWatch will look like, or even if there will be one. However an iWatch does appear to be on the cards and according to the goss it will sport a revolutionary double curved touch screen.

So fair play to the fellas at Yanko Designs who have imagined what the iWatch might look like. And if it does look like this then put me down for one – pronto.

Just to recap the iWatch will, if it ever arrives, link wirelessly to your iPhone using Bluetooth and let you have updates from your social media accounts, emails, text messages etc. You might even be able to control it using Apple’s Siri voice interface. There is bound to be a few interesting new things too.

This pic then this is how Esben Oxholm of the Yanko thinks the Apple team would design the phone/watch.

He says

Heavily inspired by the look of the iPhone 5 and sporting a minimalistic, sleek look, the watch is crafted with black aluminum on the outside and a thin layer of soft matte rubber on the inside.

It has got the highly recognizable round home button as the only physical button. The rest of the fun happens on the newly developed slightly double curved touch screen. The iWatch can be fitted to your liking, by removing or adding spacers in the lower part of the bendy bracelet.

For more go here.

For more on the background to the iWatch and to see its rivals go here



Gadgets

The Apple iWatch takes a step closer to becoming a reality

By Stefano on February 11th, 2013

smartwatchA few months ago I wrote about how Apple might be sizing up your wrist for an iWatch. I also profiled the growing number of smart watches that are on sale that use Bluetooth technology to hook up to your phone and deliver social media updates, emails and more.

Well The New York Times has been chatting to a couple of anonymous Apple employees who tell us that the company is working on a watch type device and that its USP is that it will feature flexible glass that curves around your wrist. It might also have a flexible curved, and not flat screen.

Here’s what the NYT said

In its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they are not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products. Such a watch would operate on Apple’s iOS platform, two people said, and stand apart from competitors based on the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body.

While it sounds exciting it doesn’t sound like an iWatch is on the horizon just yet. Apple is very good at watching as other people innovate  and then delivering a product that it superior in terms of design and interface to the existing products. It did it with the iPod and then again with the iPhone and iPad.

So look out for an exciting design with a unique interface (maybe it will be voice controlled) later in the year or maybe in 2014.

That is unless someone else doesn’t get there first. Olympus, Google and Nike are all working on wearable tech and I wouldn’t bet against Samsung presenting something intriguing later in the year. There’s more on the Apple rumours here.

The most recent smart watches are here.

Pic from this clever designer.



features, Gadgets

Out of the blue – Apple launches a brand new iPad

By Stefano on January 29th, 2013

ipad-4-genIn today’s most surprising tech news Apple have launched, wait for it, a new iPad. But before we all get too carried away there’s no new design or extra features to tell you about.

The new model, which is aimed at serious iPad users and businesses, comes with a whopping 128 Gigabytes of storage – that is twice the previous top amount for an iPad which was 64 Gigbaytes

So if you have a large collection of music and/or videos or you are a creative user that needs to store a lot of content on your iPad this is going to be a good bet.

The new 128GB iPad 4 is slated to hit stores on Tuesday 5 February, in black or white. It will cost £639 for the iPad with Wi-Fi model and £739 for the iPad with Wi-Fi + mobile phone data network-friendly model.

“It’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

Bought a new iPad? Here are the top thirty apps to download first



features, Gadgets

All you need to know about big screen phones aka Phablets – and the seven models that have been released so far

By Stefano on January 24th, 2013

In 2010 Dell released a new phone with a monster sized five inch screen called the Streak, and it went on to change the way we think about mobile phones. But not in the way that Dell had hoped.

The early models were filled with glitches and consumers didn’t really seem ready for a phone with a screen that large. Even Dell admitted defeat pulling the plug on the devices (it had also unveiled a 7 inch version) in 2011.

But a seed had been planted.  Just as Dell was putting the Streak out to pasture Samsung surprised everyone by issuing its own huge screen phone – the Galaxy Note. It was a tentative launch too with Samsung stressing the handset’s stylus capabilities (it comes with a pen that lets you do many interesting arty things, hence the name the Note) as much as the five inch screen size.

At first reviews were a little lukewarm, but as time went by it was clear that there was a demand for a phone with a five inch screen and Samsung has gone onto sell millions of Notes. The big differences between the Note and the Streak is that the Note’s screen is much brighter, more vibrant and higher definition and its processor is so much quicker and better suited to web surfing and gaming. The fact that the Note was much skinnier than the Streak was also a key factor too.

A year and a few months on it is obvious that the Galaxy Note has had a huge impact on mobile design. For starters it has helped nudge the standard size screen for a mobile up a inch or two. Samsung’s own best selling Galaxy S3 has a screen of 4.8inches, and even Apple is rumoured to be working on a phone with a screen that is pushing five inches.

The Note also gave birth to a new mobile phone sector – the Phablet. It is is a moniker that many tech journalists, quite justifiably IMO, hate but it clearly describes a product that is a cross between a phone and tablet.

Here then is all you need to know about Phablets, from which you might consider buying one through to profiles of the seven models that are currently available (or at least coming in the next month or two).

What is a Phablet?

As the name implies it is a hybrid between a phone and a tablet. It can be used to make and receive calls, but its selling point is a big screen that makes it perfect for gaming, surfing the web and more. Wikipedia states that the size of the screen of a Phablet is normally between 5 and 7 inches. There are a cluster of phones that have screens not too shy of five inches – the 4.8inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy S3 being one – but these aren’t considered Phablets.

Why would I want one?

Personally I think that once you have used Phablet you can never go back to phone with a smaller screen. In particular phones with anything less than a four inch screen suddenly seem kind of ridiculous. Honestly. The large screen significantly enhances a person’s web surfing, gaming and ebook reading experience. It is tricky to read an ebook on a 3.5inch screen, not so on five inch one. As the phones are high -end models they tend to be stacked out the with the latest operating systems and fastest processors too. The phones currently all run the Android operating system and have access to apps via the Google Play store.

Why wouldn’t I want one?

Cue the Dom Jolly jokes. They are obviously larger than most smartphones. However even the Galaxy Note 2 with its 5.5inch screen fits comfortably in to a pocket of a pair of jeans. Their size also makes them slightly trickier to use than smaller handsets in that they are difficult to use one handed – to get the best out of them you  need to keep a tight grip on the phone while operating the touch screen with the other. To be honest I think most Phablet owners wouldn’t consider these drawbacks at all.

Could I buy one instead of a tablet?

Personally I love my iPad, but it stays mainly in my home. In contrast my Galaxy Note travels with me everywhere. I appreciate the bigger screen of my ten inch iPad when it is nearby, but then again I often just reach for my Note. In theory then it does kind of double as a tablet but one that you take with you everywhere.

How big are they going to get?

Well the discontinued Dell Streak was available with a seven inch screen. Currently the biggest Phablet you can buy in the UK is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which has a 5.5inch screen. The Huawei Ascend Mate may follow soon and that has a 6inch screen. There are lots of rumours of even larger screens. Samsung are also reported to working on two new models – a 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 3 and even a 7.7-inch screen or 7.9inch depending on which rumour you want to believe . They will be most likely be unveiled at Mobile World Congress at Barcelona in February.

Maybe at some point in the future it will be commoun to carry round a seven inch Phablet which is hooked up to a smart watch and a headset. The Phablet will act as a hub connecting with the other devices using Bluetooth. You will use the watch to get social media updates and text messages and the headset to make and receive calls. When you want to play games, watch TV or get online you’ll get the Phablet out.

What about Apple, Nokia, BlackBerry? Are they working on Phablets?

There are already rumours of an Apple  iPhablet (although CEO Tim Cook has denied this) and I’d be very surprised if Nokia didn’t unveil a Phablet that runs Windows in next month. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Samsung Galaxy Note 1

Picture 1 of 7
Picture 1 of 7

It wasn't the first Phablet - that accolade was arguably scooped by Dell and its Streak - but the Galaxy Note, which was unveiled in late 2011 and went on sale in numbers in the UK in early 2012, was the first big screen to go mainstream. At its launch Samsung focused as much as the stylus (and the creative opportunities that it offers) as much as the big screen. But it soon became clear that gamers, hardcore web surfers and ebook readers were drawn to its very impressive 5.3inch screen. The phone's eight mega pixel camera is excellent too. It has gone on to sell millions and spawn a host of imitators that appear on the following pages. If you want to buy one in the UK now is a good time. You can pick one up on contract for as little as £20 per month. They can often be found in second hand stores too as some original owners have upgraded to the second version. Prices start at just under £300.

 

 

 



Gadgets

Is Apple now gunning for your (ahem) trainers? iSneakers anyone?

By Stefano on January 24th, 2013

Kudos to Apple Insider for unearthing a really interesting patent recently filed by Apple. We all know that the company is keen on wearable tech and we have made predictions before about the possibility of an iWatch. The patent though refers to a mart shoes system that would be embedded in the heel of a foot that would include sensors that would relay information to another device – possibly an iPhone.

It could undertake a number of roles too. On one level it could tell you when your heel was damaged or being worn out which is highly useful information for athletes.  Alternatively it could be marketed as a high-tech consumer product aimed at runners.

Tech Digest writes

Sensors could include motion trackers, pedometers and weight-sensitive pressure sensors, letting wearers track how far they’ve walked, how fast they run, how much they weigh and when they should next consider buying a new pair of smart shoes as the current pair begins to wear out.

Most intriguingly there’s also the suggestion that the kinetic energy created whilst walking could be converted into power for the smart shoes, possibly removing the need to ever charge the shoes’ electronic components.

There is a potentially massive market for apps that track fitness related data. Already we have seen the huge success of next generation intelligent pedometers like the Jawbone Up, Nike Fuelband and Fitbit Flex. These smart trainers could take fitness data collection to another level.



iPhone App

What are the best features of the new iPhone?

By shinychris on January 21st, 2013

All in all it’s easy to think that once you’ve seen one mobile phone you’ve seen them all. In some cases this is sort of true. When it comes to innovation we haven’t seen anything truly ground breaking or world changing in a long time. What we are seeing now are lots of pointers and hints at which direction the world of the smart phone might be heading.

Apple’s latest addition to its mobile phone stable gives a few clues at what we might be able to expect from the next generation of smart phones. Here are a few ideas of what we might see:

1.            Larger screens: Apple have taken a while to reach the same conclusion as other manufacturers, but now that they have designed the new iphone with a larger screen it tends to make the other even larger handsets look bulky and wasteful. The four inch screen on the iPhone 5 seems perfectly proportioned when compared against others. It fits snugly in the hand but it is big enough to be able to watch wide screen movies without screen squish and the increased resolution means that words are easier to read and games are easier to play.

2.            Smaller case: We might yet see smart phones become small enough that we can wear them on our wrists. Indeed the only thing stopping this from becoming a reality is the requirement for such a large screen. But Apple has proved that it really is possible to put everything that a phone needs into a space that is smaller than a wallet.

3.            More robust operating system: The latest update to Apple’s iOS has brought a host of changes and tweaks that might not render anyone obsolete, but do a good job of giving other handsets a run for their money.

In association with Dialaphone



Gadgets

Apple’s new version of iTunes lands today – but are you still using it?

By Stefano on November 29th, 2012

Well of course die hard Mac heads are still on board and there are obviously still millions of people across the globe who use it as their main source of music, but two things are crystal clear. Firstly that at the moment iTunes is a bit of a mess that’s slow to load and not easy to operate. Secondly that even a lot of Mac users have migrated to Spotify and other music playing options.

Anyhow Apple’s next-generation iTunes application is set to land today, following a month’s worth of delays that saw the media library tool slip from its original October launch date.

Obviously if you own an Apple device like an iPad or an iPhone then you do need to use, which means it is essential that Apple gets the next incarnation right.

Anyhow what do you think? Tell us in the poll and the comments.

Btw Here are a few suggestions from two years ago!



Gadgets

5 reasons to put the new 2012 Apple iMac at the top of your Christmas list

By Gerald Lynch on November 27th, 2012

Hoping to bag a new computer this Christmas? If you put style and functionality on equal footing when it comes to picking your gadgetry, you’ll be looking to pop one of Apple’s new 2012 iMac models at the top of your wishlist. 

Though many feared the futuristic-looking new machines wouldn’t hit stores in time for the holidays, Apple today confirmed that UK stores will be seeing the all-in-one desktop computers touch down in good time on 30 November.

Here are Brandish’s top 5 reasons why this is the computer you should hope to find under your tree come Christmas Day.

1) It’s slimmer than a gnats arse

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but with an edge a mere 5mm thick, the latest Apple iMac’s are incredibly thin. Using a manufacturing process called friction-stir welding (commonly used on airplane wings and rocket booster tanks) it uses a combination of “intense friction-generated heat and pressure to intermix the molecules of the two aluminium surfaces — creating a seamless, precise and super-strong joint”, according to Apple. It’s even more insane when you consider that all of the computer’s powerful components are housed within that super-slim chassis. The screen is as pretty as a picture

2) Its screen is as pretty as a picture

It may not be the Retina display that many had hoped for, but the 27-inch iMac’s 2560×1440 resolution LED-backlit display is still as beautiful as they come on a desktop computer. Each is individually calibrated to make colours pop in as life-like a way as possible, while this year’s model is 75% less reflective than previous versions.

3) It’s super-fast 

The latest iMacs pack in the latest generation of Ivy Bridge Intel processors that are not only significantly faster than earlier ones, but also are far more efficient too. Cranking up to an impressive 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 in the top-tier configuration, they also feature an intelligent Turbo Boost mode that boosts speeds up to 3.9GHz when demanding applications require it. Dedicated NVIDA graphics cards (configurable to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX with 2GB of GDDR5 memory for the tech-savvy among you) mean that you’ll be able to play the latest games without a problem on the new iMacs too.

4) Its Fusion Drive may be the future of computer storage

The iMac can be configured to come with a Fusion Drive, a new take on traditional computer storage space that mixes the best bits of hard drives and flashy new Solid State drives (SSD). Traditional hard disk drives are much slower than Solid State drives, but are far cheaper and come in far higher storage capacities. The Fusion Drive puts the two together, offering a small amount of SSD storage alongside a big whack of regular hard disk storage, and intelligently learns which applications you use the most and moves them to the faster SSD portion. Essentially, this hybrid means you still get loads of storage space, plus the speedy application loading and file transfer advantages of an SSD.

5) OS X is a great operating system, with great built-in apps

Forget Windows 8, Apple’s Mountain Lion OS X is the best operating system on the market, and it comes pre-installed on all iMac computers. If you’ve already got an iPhone or iPad it’s a no-brainer; OS X’s iCloud online storage features make syncing up an iMac’s files with your other Apple products and their calendars and contacts simple. Then there’s the intuitive gesture controls that Apple pioneered and everyone else has since ripped off, letting you swipe and pinch your way though many features of the computer. Add in the impressive array of free, built in apps (the Garageband music recording suite is regularly used by pro popstars while the iMovie and iPhoto applications let you play inventively with your snaps and videos) and it’s the most comprehensive out-of-the-box computing offering there is.

Apple’s latest iMac models hit shops on 30 November 2012, with prices starting at £1,099. Click here to check out the range on the Apple website.



Gadgets

New UK poll suggests Apple iPhone/iPad owners eyeing up gadgets from other makers

By Stefano on November 14th, 2012

We all know that it has been a fantastic year for Apple. However a new UK poll from Harris Interactive suggests that Apple’s position as the king of cool gadgets might be under threat as young consumers and early adopters take another look at other brands.

The figures highlight that the iPad is clearly the number one tablet with a massive 6:1 ratio lead over second placed Samsung. Apple can also boast the top smartphone of 2012 with the iPhone 5 selected by 39%, a nine point lead over Samsung’s high profile successful Galaxy S3.

However if you look at the figures among early adopters – the people who buy gadgets first and set the trends – the gap is narrowing. Apple’s lead over Samsung in tablets is reduced from a 6:1 ratio among all consumers to 3:1 among early adopters with those influencers eyeing up devices from Samsung, Amazon and others. Apparently the gap between the two brands is even smaller among 16-24 year olds.

Meanwhile the next generation iPhone is the most anticipated smartphone release, but its lead over Samsung is down to just 5%. And, most interesting of all, 25% of current iPhone users are anticipating the release of other smartphones more. And the list of the devices they are looking at includes new phones from Blackberry and Nokia – companies who once dominated the market but have hit hard times lately. Could it be that consumers are missing their old brands? It should be noted though that the research was completed a few weeks after Nokia announced its new Lumia 920 to the world.

As for the iPad Mini, the device entered a market segment that it not only crowded but features some high profile devices from well established aspirational brands.

Ultimately you can make of the report, which you can see in more detail here, what you will. Apple is clearly going to be the dominant force in consumer electronics in the UK for the foreseeable future. However the huge lead it created in the tablet and smartphone markets is likely to disappear. It is not a new problem for Apple though. For a while in the late 90s Apple’s iMac was a massive player in the PC market. However after a few years and a few iterations, consumers got bored of the product and began to spend money on new brands and new formats.

The gauntlet has been thrown down to Apple now to create something truly unique and innovative once again. Our money is on Apple TV.

Next year is going to be very interesting.



Brand Spotlight, Lifestyle & Gadgets

iPhone 5 helps Apple top CoolBrands survey

By Gerald Lynch on September 24th, 2012

iPhone-5-official-thumb-4.pngApple have topped the 2012/2013 CoolBrands survey, compiling which brands are seen as the most cool in the UK each year.

Cherry-picked by a group of key cultural influencers, including celebrities such as musician Carl Barat and DJ Rob da Bank, this year sees tech brands smashing the list, making up 45% of the top 20. Last year, tech brands accounted for just a quarter of the list.

Alongside Apple are tech companies including photography brand Nikon and audio/visual companies Bose and Bang & Olufsen.

So what’s turned tech from geek to chic? We’re putting it down to the Three A-s; accessibility, affordability and aspirational…ability.

Take an iPhone 5; it’s a top-end product, at the cutting edge of design, but you can walk down any highstreet and pick one up from multiple stores. It’s priced at a premium relative to its competitors, but not out of reach of the common man; having a glitzy new iPhone will still make you the envy of your mates without breaking the bank, while an Aston Martin remains the reserve of the super-rich. And the super-rich, in this austerity age of bogus bankers are a vilified gang that are about as cool as Chumbawamba at a Gary Glitter-themed karaoke night.

Free online services further back this up, with BBC iPlayer, Twitter and YouTube all making the top 20 cut.

It’s a sentiment that Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the CoolBrands Expert Council, mostly echoes:

“It is interesting that in this age of austerity our perception of cool has increasingly shifted from aspirational, luxury brands to free or more affordable brands that provide us with pleasure. The presence of the online brands like BBC iPlayer, Twitter, YouTube and Skype are a great case in point.

“Perhaps, reflective of its lack of success since becoming a public company, Facebook has failed to join its peers in the top 20.”

For Facebook, it seems that overexposure has done it no cool-favours. When everyone and their dog uses a service, it reaches saturation point; taken for granted like a public transport system, but just as likely to irk and annoy.

The full CoolBrands 2012/13 top 20 is as follows:

1. Apple
2. YouTube
3. Aston Martin
4. Twitter
5. Google
6. BBC iPlayer
7. Glastonbury
8. Virgin Atlantic
9. Bang & Olufsen
10. Liberty
11. Sony
12. Bose
13. Häagen-Dazs
14. Selfridges
15. Ben & Jerry’s
16. Mercedes-Benz
17. Vogue
18. Skype
19. Nike
20. Nikon



Lifestyle & Gadgets

MacBook Pro with Retina Display: Apple’s most stylish computer yet?

By Gerald Lynch on June 12th, 2012

mabook-pro-retina-3-640.jpgreview-line.JPGApple are calling it “the most beautiful computer we’ve ever made”, and “a whole new vision for the notebook.” And they’d be right. Super-slim and super-powerful, Apple’s new MacBook is catwalk-thin and man-bag ready, letting you get some serious work done thanks to high-spec internals without having to let your inner geek crack through your chic exterior. Apple mean business with the new MacBook Pro, and they’re doing it with style. Here, we pick out the computer’s five best features.

review-line.JPGRetina Display

A Retina Display in a MacBook Pro, like those found in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and new iPad was one of the most hotly rumoured features of Apple’s new machine’s prior to launch, and thankfully it’s made the cut.

The killer feature of the new MacBook Pros, it sees the screen running at a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1800, hitting 220 ppi, or 5,184,000 pixels. That’s four times the pixels of the last generation MacBook Pro. It’s also 3 million pixels more than you’d find in a full HD TV, and offers improved contrast ratios and viewing angles, as well as considerable less glare in direct sunlight meaning you can work in the garden without giving yourself a squinty-eyed headache.

Super-thin looks

Apple have put the MacBook Pro on a serious diet. The new model is just 0.71-inches thick, making it 25% thinner than the current Pro.  At 4.46 pounds, it’s the lightest MacBook Pro Apple have ever built too. It’s not the slimmest  laptop on the market (that accolade belongs, for the time being at least, to Acer’s Aspire S5), but it’s the best looking, and up there with the most powerful of Ultrabooks.
mabook-pro-retina-4-640.jpg
Snazzy graphics

Thanks to the combination of an Intel Ivy Bridge Processor (with configurations starting at 2.3GHz quad-core i7s) and NVIDIA’s latest mobile discrete graphics chips, the latest MacBook Pro is the fastest, most graphically capable laptop Apple have ever put together. Ivy Bridge offers a 60% improvement over the last generation of Intel’s integrated graphics solutions, while the NVIDIA GT 650M graphics chip inside means that Retina-troubling gaming resolutions shouldn’t be out of reach. Indeed, at WWDC 2012 Apple showed off an enhanced version of Diablo III running at a Retina Display resolution, with touched up graphics to make the most of the higher ppi. Here’s hoping other developers follow sit with their games. 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 LRAM as standard helps too, meaning intensive multi-tasking and video editing applications should always run without a stutter.

Better Connectivity

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display may well be dropping the optical disc drive of previous models, but it’s adding some key new features too. Most notably are two USB 3.0 ports and a HDMI input, two connections that have been sorely missing from previous models. As well as that, you’re also getting an SD slot, two superfast Thunderbolt ports, the thinner new MagSafe 2 connection, a 720p Facetime HD webcam, dual mics, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. Oh, and a headphone jack too.

SSD Storage

Hard Disk Drives will soon be going the way of the Dodo in favour of SSD drives, as employed by Apple here. And for good reason; they allows the machines to be much thinner and lighter, as well as booting up incredibly quickly and allowing for fast application loading times and speedy file transfers. And, with no moving parts, your data is better protected against shock and drop damage, which is great for clumsy types.



Lifestyle & Gadgets, News

WHICH SHOULD I BUY? – Samsung Galaxy S3 or iPhone 4S?

By Gerald Lynch on May 4th, 2012

galaxy-s3-vs-iphone.jpgreview-line.JPG
There was a time when every self-respecting man about time worth his salt wouldn’t be caught dead with any smartphone other than an Apple iPhone. And though Apple keep on delivering the goods year-on-year with updates to the range, Android smartphones are now every bit as desirable. The new best-in-class model is Samsung’s Galaxy S3. Revealed at a glitzy launch event in London last night, Brandish’s pals over at Tech Digest went hands-on with the new smartphone to get all the juicy details. Is it better than the iPhone 4S, or should you steer clear of the Samsung Galaxy S3? Read on to find out which smartphone you should be spending your money on!

review-line.JPGDesign and Build Quality

iPhone 4S
Though it’s a rehashed version of the iPhone 4 (with the dreadful antenna issues all ironed out) it’s hard to fault the iPhone 4S design. Whether you grab it in black or white, the angular unibody design with chrome trim oozes style. It’s arguably hit the sweetspot for mobile-phone size at 115.2 mm x 58.66 mm x 9.3 mm too. It does however lack a HDMI-out port, pretty much a standard with high-end Android handsets these days, and it’s a little delicate, with its glass prone to shattering if dropped from even a modest height.

Galaxy S3
Thin at just 8.6mm and light at 133g, the Galaxy S3 feels great in the hand, and slips almost invisibly into a pocket. Available in Pebble Blue and Marble White, its curved edges are meant to conjure memories of nature. However, its plasticy “Hyperglaze” finish lacks that premium feel, and some may decide the Galaxy S3 is a little flimsy, albeit unfairly.

Winner – iPhone 4S
galaxy-s3-screens-iphone.jpg
Screen

iPhone 4S
The latest iPhone’s Retina Display is pretty much as good as it gets for mobile display technology right now. Measuring 3.5 inches diagonally, it uses LED backlit IPS TFT LCD technology to deliver images at a staggering 326ppi. What the screen lacks in size it more than makes up for in detail, with vibrant colours, lush brightness and deep blacks.

Galaxy S3
A 4.8 inch Super AMOLED HD display sits on the front of the Galaxy S3 and it’s gorgeous. Though its extra size and resolution mean it “only” hits a 309ppi pixel density, to the naked eye that won’t make a difference. Vibrant and colourful, it dwarfs the iPhone 4S screen, which is a far less comfortable size to view videos on. Bigger, in this case at least, is better.

Winner – Galaxy S3

Processor

iPhone 4S
Apple’s 800Mhz dual-core A5 chip may sound a little dated in this age of quad-core mobile CPUs, but thanks to Apple’s careful marriage of software and hardware, you’ll never find the iPhone 4S being overly taxed. You’ll fly through menu screens, tap away at breathtaking polygonal-3D gaming apps and playback detailed HD video without a stutter.

Galaxy S3
Samsung have popped a quad-core 1.4Ghz Exynos processor in the Galaxy S3. And despite having to push more pixels than the iPhone 4S (and running off the sometimes temperamental Android OS) there wasn’t a stutter or hang to be seen. This is one powerful phone, best presented by the Pop Up Play feature that offers true picture-in-picture multitasking, offering windowed HD video playback. Impressive is an understatement.

Winner – Galaxy S3

Storage

iPhone 4S
Though Apple’s iPhone 4S doesn’t offer expandable storage, they at least offer three different configurations when it comes to size. 16GB, 32GB and 64GB iPhone 4S models are all available, with pricing rising appropriately. It’s a crafty tactic though, as those opting for more storage space have to pop money directly into Apple’s coffers, rather than picking up cheaper expandable storage elsewhere. With the iCloud back-up feature too you’ve got a little leeway with which to store files remotely too, though extensive cloud storage through Apple doesn’t come cheaply.

Galaxy S3
Samsung’s generous storage options make Apple look very cheap here. For starters, you’ve got the same 16GB, 32GB and 64GB handset options. Add on to that the option of popping in as much as an extra 64GB from a microSD card. Then pile on top the 50GB of FREE Dropbox cloud storage that comes as standard with every Galaxy S3 purchase. There’s no competition here.

Winner – Galaxy S3
iphone-galaxy-software.jpg
Battery

iPhone 4S
The iPhone 4S is said to have 200 hours worth of battery standby time, 8 hours talk time on 3G, 14 hours talk time on 2G, 6 hours 3G browsing, 9 hours Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of video playback or 40 hours of audio playback. In reality however, you’re going to be juggling through all these tasks (at times simultaneously) throughout a day, meaning that you’re going to need to recharge that battery long before the day is done.

Galaxy S3
Samsung have popped in a whopping 2100mAh battery in the Galaxy S3. It sounds awesome, but remember there’s a massive screen to power, as well as a quad-core processor draining juice all the time. Touches like the Smart Stay tech should keep battery usage as low as possible, but we can’t pass judgement here till we’ve put the phone through its paces for a bit longer. We’ll call it a tie for now.

Winner – Tie

Software and Apps

iPhone 4S
Apple say there’s an app for everything, and with the iOS App Store, that’s pretty much true. With over 500,000 different apps available in Apple’s store, there’s pretty much an app to cater for every potential need. From fitness to finance, arts to archaeology, you name it, there’s a shed load of apps for every possible niche. Gaming in particular is well served on the iPhone, with it more than a match for handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita these days. Just check out Infinity Blade 2 if you need convincing.

The iPhone 4S also features the much-publicised Siri voice control app. With it, you can search the web, set calendar reminder, dictate emails and much more with just your voice alone. In the US it’s a fully-featured service that has a giant database of details on local businesses and events. In the UK, it’s far less comprehensive in terms of what it can do, making it a bit of a novelty for the time being.

As for the iOS operating system itself, it’s incredibly easy to use and looks beautiful. It pretty much invented the grid-based app layout that everything from the Xbox 360 to Roku entertainment players have ripped off since. It is also however incredibly limited in terms of customisation, and if you’re a tinkerer who likes to get under the hood of his device and tweak every property and potential UI layout, it’s not a patch on Android.

Galaxy S3
The Galaxy S3 runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich. When it comes to apps, Android just can’t compete with iOS. For starters there are fewer apps available, and they tend to be uniformly less visually appealing than similar ones available on the Apple App Store.

Likewise, Android is a far less user-friendly OS, but what it lacks in dummy-proofing, it excels with customisation options. You can make your Android look and act pretty much however you want it to, freely adding widgets and personal touches throughout the device.

Samsung have also gone a long way to stamping their own touches into the software of the phone too. As well as the aforementioned Pop Up Play feature, there’s superfast data sharing over NFC with S Beam, intelligent facial recognition and photo tagging capabilities, eye-tracking screen dimming tech called Smart Stay and their own Siri rival called S Voice.

Winner – iPhone 4S
galaxy-s3-cameras-iphone.jpg
Camera and Video Recording

iPhone 4S
Though its megapixel count of 8 isn’t any higher than the majority of top-tier smartphones the iPhone 4S’s imaging systems consistently deliver stunning results. Using a lens with an aperture of f/2.4, and combining that with clever HDR and Macro software, you get excellent still image results almost every time. A super-fast shutter speed that lets you snap multiple images directly after each other sweetens the deal, as do the many superb photography apps on the App Store. However, you can’t tweak sensitivity settings like white balance and exposure, which may irk pro photographers.

1080p video recording with anti-shake functionality likewise returns brilliant results on the iPhone 4S, with the iMovie app letting you make a few simple edits on the go.

Galaxy S3
Samsung’s top-tier smartphone camera seems every bit as good as the iPhones. Again, it’s an 8MP offering, with impressive start up speeds of 990ms, and the ability to fire off 3.3 photos a second. A 20 in a row, six photos per second, burst mode also features, alongside Best Shot, which takes 8 pictures and picks out the best based on framing, lighting and blur, as well as elements such as open or closed eyes on the subject.

Then there are the facial recognition features. Snap a friend, tag them in one photo, and every subsequent picture you take of them in the future should automatically be tagged accurately by the handset. Groups of people appearing in the same shots can also have group tags associated with them, making organising large photo libraries incredibly easy. Images can quickly be shared via email or social networks using this feature too.

Elsewhere, more standard features like High Dynamic Range (HDR), panorama, Smile Shot and Beauty Modes are onboard too, as well as plenty of manual settings for things like Exposure values.

Though we spent less time with it, 1080p video recording is also onboard. Just like the S2 before it, the results from our early tests looked a real treat, with video stabilisation options working superbly. Up front, a 1.9MP camera for video calling and shooting 720p video is also available.

Winner – Tie

Price

iPhone 4S
Unlocked, the iPhone 4S in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB sizes cost £499, £599 and £699 respectively.

Galaxy S3
We’re still waiting for official pricing for the Galaxy S3, but if the Galaxy S2 was anything to go by, expect premium pricing. The S2 started at around £500 SIM-Free too depending on retailer, so we’d imagine things to be similar with the Galaxy S3.

Winner – Tie

review-line.JPGOverall Winner – Samsung Galaxy S3

There’s not much in it, and the Apple faithful will likely see nothing that will make them change their ways, but our first impressions of the Galaxy S3 suggest it may be the best smartphone on the market today. A great camera, superb screen and innovative software features show Samsung have really pushed the boat out with the Galaxy S3. If the price proves right, and the battery is up to scratch, we could have a new smartphone king on our hands. Remember though, the iPhone 4S is based on a design (that of the iPhone 4) that is now a couple of years old. With the iPhone 5 launch almost certainly looming, the tables could turn yet again very quickly…

review-line.JPG



Lifestyle & Gadgets, News

Should I buy a new iPad 3? Dissecting the hype behind Apple’s latest tablet

By Gerald Lynch on March 16th, 2012

Launching three new versions of their swanky iPad tablet in as many years, chances are you’re already pretty familiar with the Apple gadget that’s leading the charge for a whole new era of mobile computing. You may even have one already, swiping through your iPad to read this very post. How meta!

Today, Apple unleash a brand new version of the iPad, with queues wrapping around the block outside many an Apple retail store, and the entire online pre-order stock already snapped up until April.

So what’s so special about the new iPad 3? Is it worth your money if you haven’t already got a tablet, and is it a worthy upgrade if you’ve already got an original iPad or iPad 2? Scroll down for our gut reaction on the new generation device’s key improvements, and the areas we feel it’s still lacking in.

5 things that are great about the new iPad

    1. The Retina Display: Apple’s new iPad packs in brand new screen technology, similar to the super-high resolution display found in their iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S mobile phones. Still 9.7 inches in size, the Retina Display has a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution. That adds up to 3.1 million pixels, approximately 1 million more than you’d see on an average 1080p HD TV. In other words, high-res images look as close to printed pictures as they possibly can, text is more readable than ever, and individual pixels are practically indistinguishable.
    2. Faster A5X processor: Claiming to be 4x faster than their Nvidia rivals, the new chip inside the latest iPad should allow for superior performance across all apps, and allow for more graphically intense games to feature too. If developers get their act together, it shouldn’t be too big a gap between the quality of PS3, Xbox 360 and iPad games now.
    3. Better camera: After putting a dismal camera into the iPad 2, the new iPad finally has a decent imaging system. The “iSight” camera can take 5MP stills and capture 1080p video, which should lead to some very nice results when paired with the new iPhoto image editing app and the updated iMovie video editing app.
    4. 4G mobile connectivity: If you’re a reader in the US, the new iPad is now compatible with superfast LTE mobile broadband, which will make downloading larger apps or streaming video on the go a speedy joy.
    5. Price: Despite all the new features, the new iPad retains the same pricing structure as the last generation. So for just £399, you can walk away today with the basic 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad 3. If you’ve been saving up for an iPad 2, jumping straight up to the new iPad 3 won’t cost you any extra notes.

5 reasons not to care about the new iPad

  1. 4G doesn’t work yet in the UK: With Ofcom still divvying up the new 4G spectrum in the UK, it’s going to be likely more than a year (at the very earliest) before the 4G standard is widely available in the UK. The new iPad will still be faster over mobile internet than older generations thanks to an improved antenna system, but the incredible speeds that 4G allows for will be out of reach to those in Blighty.
  2. It’s thicker and heavier than last years model: It’s only a slight difference, near invisible to the naked eye, but the new iPad is bulkier than the iPad 2. Using the Wi-Fi models as an example, the iPad 2 is 8.8 mm thick and weighs 600 grammes. The new iPad Wi-Fi only by comparison measures 9.4 mm thick and weighs 650 grammes. It’s not a massive difference, but will be noticeable to those used to the svelte lines of the iPad 2.
  3. The iPad 2 is now way cheaper: While the new iPad is reasonably priced at £399, if you’re not fussed about the new features, the iPad 2 now sits attractively at £329 for the basic model, brand new. Second hand iPad 2′s will likely be drastically cheaper again than that price too.
  4. No Siri: With the iPhone 4S Apple introduced the voice controlled personal assistant feature Siri, which can help manage your calendar, find directions, take notes and search the apps and media stored on your device, as well as a ton of other cool features, just by speaking to it. The iPad 3 gets voice dictation. Seems a bit of a let down, and perhaps even a little cheap on Apple’s behalf if they’re withholding this for a future generation of the tablet. Which leads onto our next point…
  5. Apple almost certainly have something EVEN better lined up: Just prior to the iPad 3 launch, rumours were shooting around the web that Apple were going to be squeezing in new cutting-edge touchscreen technology into the new iPad. Apparently in talks with a company called Senseg who specialise in displays that react to touch differently depending on what’s displayed onscreen, it turned out not to make the cut for the final product. But knowing Apple, it’s likely that the Senseg technology, along with a host of other improvements, are being held back for future updates to their tablet, as they drip feed new features in with each successive update to the device, encouraging existing owners to splash more cash with an upgrade.

Should I buy a new iPad?

If you’ve been waiting to jump onto the tablet bandwagon, the new iPad is easily the most advanced offering out on the market, and, backed by the superb App Store and intuitive iOS user interface, it’s the slickest and easiest to use too. The screen looks great, it’s faster than its predecessor’s and it’s no more expensive than earlier versions.

If however you have an iPad 2, it’s a little more difficult to say. Without 4G connectivity in the UK, the new iPad isn’t quite as impressive as it could be, and unless you’re really into gaming or image/video editing, the new camera and screen upgrades wont mean that much to you. Also,  if you’ve never owned a tablet before, and are strapped for cash, the iPad 2 is now available from a number of retailers and second-hand stores for a really great price.

Overall though, we’d say grab the new iPad if you can afford to. The screen really is a revelation in our opinion, and you’ll be the envy of your mates with your shiny new tech toy.




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