Posts Tagged ‘specs’

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.
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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

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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
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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
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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
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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…

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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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