Prestigio MultiPad 7.0 Prime Duo Review

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews, Spotlight, Tablets

Android is certainly the OS of choice when it comes to affordable tablets. In recent years we’ve seen tablets of all sizes powered by Google’s OS; some do it well while others are just cheap paperweights. I managed to get my hands on the Prestigion MultiPad 7.0 Prime Duo this week for a quick review, to see if it was a capable Android tablet or just another one to be abandoned in the corner.

Build quality & design

What impressed me most about the MultiPad was its build quality. The sleek little tablet is mostly made of plastic, but despite this feels quite study in your hands. The back is covered with a smooth metallic finish with the Prestigio logo on it, with the rear-facing camera at the top. Around the top of the tablet you’ll find a microUSB port for charging as well as the power button; adjacent to that you’ll find the volume rocker. Oddly enough, the speakers are placed at the bottom, and when holding the tablet horizontally they tend to be covered up, muffling the sound quite a bit. A microSD slot is hidden at the back, behind the large plastic cover near the rear camera.

Despite the somewhat low-end pitch of the MultiPad, it looks and feels much better than any of the cheaper Android tablets that I’ve reviewed over months passed.

Specifications

The specifications on the MultiPad are decent, given that it’s supposed to be an affordable entry-level tablet in the first place. The 1.5GHz processor is more than capable of running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and the 16GB offers plenty of initial storage space for media. While I didn’t expect the MultiPad to have NFC, I was surprised that it didn’t have Bluetooth, which is something I’ve seen on some other Android tablets. This means you won’t be able to connect Bluetooth hardware such as speakers or headphones, which is a bit of a disappointment.

Benchmarks and Performance

While this may be billed as an entry-level Android tablet, the MultiPad was actually a great joy to use. It took around 48 seconds to boot up from a powered-off state, and once it was up and running it sailed through the screens and apps. Okay, maybe ‘sailed through’ is a bit of a stretch, but it was certainly fast enough to launch apps and get a decent amount of work done.

Browsing on the MultiPad went off without a hitch, with websites rendering fairly quickly and apps launching nearly instantly. As seen in other Android tablets there is a bit of a delay in switching between horizontal and vertical orientation, but other than that you won’t run into any issues running any of the basic apps on the MultiPad. There’s also a cable included that you can connect to the microUSB port to allow you to use full-fledged USB devices such as hard drives, keyboards, mice, and 3G dongles.

UI and Apps

The MultiPad comes with the stock Ice Cream Sandwich UI and a few basic apps pre-installed. In fact, when you first turn on the tablet and set it up, it asks you if you’d like to install the bundled third-party apps, which is a great idea because choosing not to install most of the apps can reduce the amount of bloatware you’re running on the tablet anyway. You get some useful apps such as Skype, Instagram, an ereader, and even a Currency converter, and you’ve got full access to the Google Play store as well.

Screen and Camera

The screen on the MultiPad is certainly better than the ones I’ve seen on other Android, but it won’t blow you away. The 1,024×600 resolution is decent enough to watch videos and HD clips without noticeable pixellation, though the screen’s glossy surface means that you’ll run into a few issues using the MultiPad in bright light or outside.

The camera on the MultiPad certainly won’t impress you, with the 2MP rear camera producing very washed out images overall. Still, I’ve always said that tablets really aren’t suited for taking photos with anyway, and the MultiPad is no exception.

Sound Quality  & Battery Life

The sound on the Multipad is great if you have headphones. The inbuilt speaker is loud enough at full volume, but due to the speaker placement the sound gets very muffled when you hold the tablet horizontally as your hand will most likely cover the speaker. Battery life was rather poor, with the Multipad dying after about 4 hours of usage, which included streaming videos from YouTube, surfing the web, and playing a few Android games. Clearly battery life won’t be the MultiPad’s winning points.

Conclusion

So where does the Prestigio MultiPad sit among the slew of Android tablets in the market? Well it’s neither here or there to be honest – on one hand it does sport a better than average build quality and slighty speedier response time, but on the other hand it doesn’t have a very good battery life, something which is almost crucial for a tablet. Still, the MultiPad is a decent and affordable Android tablet even if it does have a few kinks that need ironing out.

Samsung Galaxy Camera EK-GC100 Review

The Samsung Galaxy EK-GC100 is an Android based smart camera, which for all intents and purposes is a smartphone, except for the call making part. Also the body is like a big point & shoot camera. As the name suggests, the Galaxy Camera is part of Samsung’s lineup of Android powered smart cameras (and smartphones), Jelly Bean in this case. The idea is that you have the sensor of capable taking point & shoot quality photos (a step above smartphone cameras) with a large screen on the back that facilitates the camera to be used as an Android powered smartphone or tablet. With a WiFi connection, or better yet, data plan on your SIM card you can share the photos with anyone instantly.

Body

So let’s have a look at the body of the Galaxy Camera, which is mostly white plastic with chrome blue edging. The main body is relatively thin, with the zoom lens housing popping out in the front, and the hand grip protruding from the right.

The miniUSB charge and data port is on the left along with the 3.5mm headphones jack. At the bottom we have a microHDMI port next to the battery flap, inside which also resides the microSD and regular SIM card slot.

Turn to the back and we have a 4.7-inch TFT LCD touchscreen on the back. Thankfully Samsung decided to forgo their popular OLED screen on most of their Galaxy smartphones because it would have been extremely difficult to see anything on the screen, much less a preview of your photos, under direct sunlight.

Specs

The screen itself supports a decent 1280 x 720 resolution, giving it a crisp 306ppi pixel density. Powering the camera is Samsung’s famous Exynos 4412 quad-core Cortex A9 processor running at 1.4GHz with a Mali-400MP graphics processor. Couple this with the 1GB RAM and 4GB built-in memory, the Galaxy Camera is basically a Galaxy S III.

Camera

 

The differentiating factor is obviously that instead of the 8MP camera on the S III, the Galaxy Camera has a 16.3MP camera with 21x optical zoom. There’s a proper pop-up xenon flash with AF assist light and video recording modes ranging from 1080p @ 30fps to 720p @ 60fps to 768 x 512 @ 120fps.

Usage

After using the Galaxy camera the first thing you notice is that while the camera is definitely better than any smartphone camera, as you can see from the test images below, it lacks the kind of punchy performance from high-end point & shoots such as the Sony RX100. Of course, the RX100 also costs a third more than the Galaxy Camera.

The battery life is pretty average, with just photos and previews lasting 2 seconds giving me an average battery life of 167 photos. The Galaxy Camera has some pretty aggressive power saving options wherein it goes to sleep soon after its inactive. Push the shutter release button and it’ll resume where you left off. A cold boot is required if the Galaxy Camera was inactive for 24 hours, requiring almost 30 seconds to start up! In this regard it’s left far behind modern point & shoots.  Of course, watching YouTube videos, recording and doing minimal editing on videos, taking multiple photos and heavily editing them on Snapspeed along with upload via WiFi drained the battery in about 7 hours, which is not bad at all. If you play games, and use 3G a lot, expect the battery to drain out even quicker.

At the end of the day the results were satisfactory, above average for sure, but nothing remarkable. Obviously the quality of photos really depends on how good of lighting conditions you have.  Thanks to the Android Jelly Bean, however, I was able to edit every picture in Snapspeed and make them look really good.

The fact that these pictures were being processed within a second or two after multiple effects were applied to them is thanks to the powerful hardware inside. Sharing said photos was the same as any smartphone; just connect via WiFi or 3G and upload them on Facebook or Twitter, etc. The difference being that you base photo (assuming you edit it) is going to be much better than what you would have gotten from say the Galaxy S III or iPhone 5.

Conclusion

The idea that Samsung portrays is that you can use the Galaxy Camera anywhere, get better photos than a regular smartphone camera, edit (if needed) and share it online instantly and seamlessly. However, throughout my time spent with it I can’t help but feel that people who have a smartphone will probably not want to lug around something as big as the Galaxy camera, they may as well take a micro 4/3rd or mirrorless camera with them.

So who is the Galaxy Camera for? Tourists. If you’re going to travel to another country, grab a SIM with decent data package, take (better than smartphone) photos, share photos on the fly, use the Android OS to do everything and anything, and make calls on Skype if need be. You have a fully capable device in the Galaxy Camera; it’s just a matter of using it in the proper environment, which is not day to day, but on those memorable trips where you want to be connected to the world all the same.

Right now the camera sensor on the Galaxy Camera is found wanting, but hopefully with future iterations we see a better sensor, more aggressive noise reduction and a much smaller body. As more and more mirrorless cameras and DSLRs come with WiFi connectivity, there’s certainly place in the market for a decent camera running on smartphone hardware giving you powerful editing tools and instantaneous sharing ability.

Bill Gates does AMA on Reddit

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Bill Gates, former Microsoft head and co-chair of the Bill & Melina Gates Foundation, did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, where he answered various questions on technology, his work with the foundation, and more pressing matters like how much money he has in his wallet. Below is a short recap of the best QnA’s from the AMA, and a short animated video where Bill Gates answers basic questions ahead of his Reddit meeting.

What do you do for fun? I find it hard to fathom how someone like you can just disconnect. Disconnect from the emails, calls ,the media. All of it. What would be your definition of a chill and fun day?

I love playing tennis. I am an avid bridge player (a card game if you have not heard of it – it was more popular in the past!). I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona),… I read a lot and watch courses (online or the Learning Company)..

What emerging technology today do you think will cause another big stir for the average consumer in the same way that the home computer did years ago?

Robots, pervasive screens, speech interaction will all change the way we look at “computers”. Once seeing, hearing, and reading (including handwriting) work very well you will interact in new ways..

Windows 7 or Windows 8?

Higher is better.

How do you measure the success of the foundation?How does the foundation differ from other large philanthropic organizations?

Our goals are focused on helping the poorest (globally) and improving education (in the US). We spend half of our money on global health. One metric to look at is reducing the number of children (under 5) who die. My annual letter talks about the amazing progress that has been made on this. Amazingly as health improves families choose to have less kids so paradoxically population growth goes DOWN as you improve health helping with almost every issue – from stability to the environment..

The Rosling video I posted on Sunday talks about this:http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/189bwr/most_people_still_think_of_the_world_as_being/

What’s your worst fear for the future of the world?

Hopefully we won’t have terrorists using nuclear weapons or biological weapons. We should make sure that stays hard. I am disappointed more isn’t being done to reduce carbon emissions. Governments need to spend more on basic energy R&D to make sure we get cheap non-CO2 emitting sources as soon as possible.
Overall I am pretty optimistic. Things are a lot better than they were 200 years ago..

Since becoming wealthy, what’s the cheapest thing that gives you the most pleasure?

Kids. Cheap cheeseburgers. Open Course Ware courses…
Where are you acquiring these cheap kids from? The stork.

What type of computer are you using right now?

I just got my Surface Pro a week ago and it is very nice. I am using a Perceptive Pixel display right now – huge Windows 8 touch whiteboard. These will come down in price over time and be pervasive… (http://i.imgur.com/1JqrLVc.jpg)

If Microsoft didn’t take off, what would you have done and be doing instead?

If the microprocessor had NOT come along I am not sure what I would have done. Maybe medicine or theoretical math but it is hard to say.

Did you ever own a Macintosh?

Microsoft does a lot of software for the Mac. I mostly use Windows machines but from time to time I have tried all of Apple products.

I’m not Bill Gates, but he has made a huge positive influence. Many wealthy people I know point to Bill Gates as their idol. Not for his Microsoft days, but for his philanthropy. He also simultaneously killed many of my friend’s hundred million dollar trust funds after their parents discovered that Bill was only leaving $10 million for his children.

I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favor to them. Warren Buffett was part of an article in Fortune talking about this in 1986 before I met him and it made me think about it and decide he was right. Some people disagree with this but Melinda and I feel good about it.

How was your relationship with Steve jobs? I always hoped that y’all were really good friends and competitors.

He and I respected each other. Our biggest joint project was the Mac where Microsoft had more people on the project than Apple did as we wrote a lot of applications. I saw Steve regularly over the years including spending an afternoon with him a few months before he tragically passed away…

What do people give you for your birthday, given that you can buy anything you want?

Free software. Just kidding. Books actually.

Check out the full AMA here – it’s quite informative and gives an excellent perspective of what he thinks and his plans for the future. Oh, and he also has a small request: http://i.imgur.com/D3qRaty.jpg

Apple releases iOS 6.1.1 update for iPhone 4S

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Smartphones

With the new release of iOS 6.1 you would have assumed that Apple would have done their homework before releasing such a big patch out to all their devices. Turned out the iPhone 4S didn’t sit well with the new update as news started streaming in that people were having dropped connections, or worse yet, no connections at all. The issue plagued both regular reception and 3G connectivity.

Yesterday, however, Apple released a small patch as told by MacRumors, dubbed iOS 6.1.1 designed specifically for the iPhone 4S which literally “fixes…cellular performance and reliability for iPhone 4S”. So all you iPhone 4S owners should get this update ASAP, the rest of the iOS device owners needn’t bother.

Nike FuelBand not coming to Android any time soon

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Bad news for those of you who own a Nike FuelBand and an Android device, as Nike have openly said that they are no longer working on an Android app.

The Nike FuelBand is a wrist device that tracks a user’s activity to convert it into ‘NikeFuel’. The data can then be synced with an iOS app or on the web via USB and accompanying software. Nike has said back in 2012 that an Android version of their app was in the works, but there was no further update on any progress. Now, in a recent conversation with Droid Life, Nike confirmed that they’re only focusing their efforts on iOS and the web. Nike’s PR released a statement to the site, saying “To deliver the best experience for all Nike+ FuelBand users, we are focusing on the FuelBand experience across iOS and nikeplus.com, where you can sync your activity, set new goals, and connect with friends. At this time, we are not working on an Android version of the mobile app.”

Later in the day Nike’s official support account on Twitter also confirmed this, saying “Right now, we’re focused on iOS and web. We’re not working on an Android App”. This didn’t go down well with many users, who flooded Nike with tweets demanding for a refund for supposedly lying to their customer base.

(via Droid Life)

Blackberry Creative Director Alicia Keys tweets from iPhone

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Blackberry’s move to make pop star Alicia Keys their ‘Creative Director’ may not have been the smartest thing. Keys was caught tweeting “Started from the bottom now were here!” from the Twitter for iPhone app. So what, you say. Celebrities use multiple devices all the time. While that may be the case, the pop star is allegedly a paid spokesperson who promised to be exclusive to Blackberry only about a month ago.

The original tweet (which referenced fellow music star Drake’s new album ‘Started from the bottom’, in case you are wondering) has since been deleted but the internet is always watching (and taking screenshots). In explanation, keys went for the perennial go-to celebrity excuse saying her account had been hacked. She wrote, “What the h*ll?!!!! Looks like I’ve been hacked… I like @Drake but that wasn’t my tweet :-(.”

Keys isn’t the first celebrity to experience problems in device choice. Last year, Oprah used an iPad to post tweets endorsing Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet. However, Oprah wasn’t part of Microsoft’s corporate team.

Whether Alicia keys incorrectly sent the tweet herself (or even if one of her many assistants did) or was truly hacked will probably remain an internet mystery but the entire incident makes me sad for Blackberry. Partnering with a young hotshot in an effort to remain hip and trendy only to be cheated on – it’s the story of most aging tycoons.

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