Samsung Galaxy Camera

February 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

The Galaxy Camera combines high performance photography with the Android platform and mobile internet connectivity. The result is a powerful point and shoot camera with a familiar, intuitive user interface. It’s a whole new kind of camera that doesn’t just capture smiles, it lets you use voice commands, share images and videos instantly and take full advantage of the Android 4.1, Jelly Bean platform.

Check out our review of Samsung Galaxy Camera to see what makes it so good.

Apple could get $1bn from Google next year for being default search engine

February 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Apple, News, Smartphones, Software

Having Google as the default search engine on Safari in your iOS device means a lot of money trading hands. And despite Apple and Google being fierce competitors  if someone is paying you up to $1 billion just to allow their service to be used on your devices, it’s hard to say no.

Financial analyst Scott Devitt from Morgan Stanley, is reported by Tech Crunch shwoing the amount of money Google gives Apple for being their default search engine on Safari on all iOS devices could be $1 billion for the next year. It seems that the price is calculated on the number of units sold. From 2011 to 2012 the charge per unit went from $3 to $3.2, and for this year and the next the estimate is a marginal increase going from $3.3 per unit in 2013 to $3.5 per unit in 2014.

Of course, this rate can go up or down depending on how well Android devices, Samsung in particularly, are going to do this year and the next. And companies paying for search engine defaults is nothing new. Google also pays Mozilla for being their default search engine, estimated to give them $400 million for 2014. Meanwhile Microsoft also has deals setup with Nokia and BlackBerry to use Bing as their default search engines.

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.

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.

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator

February 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

DataTraveler HyperX Predator USB Flash drive offers the fastest speeds from Kingston and the highest capacities available in the world. With 240MB/s read and 160MB/s write speeds (in USB 3.0), users can quickly access, edit and transfer their files and applications directly from the drive with no performance lag. Capacities up to 1TB allow users to store their entire digital world on the DT HyperX Predator. This prestigious drive is compliant with next-generation USB 3.0 specifications and is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 systems. DT HyperX Predator offers superior quality in a high-end design and also features a custom Kingston key ring and HyperX Valet Keychain for added value.

Check out our review to see what makes the HyperX Predator such an incredible USB flash drive.

GeForce GTX Titan 3DMark benchmarks leaked?

February 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Graphics Cards, News

NVIDIA’s upcoming and much speculated about GTX Titan is still not officially announced, but that doesn’t mean that leaks won’t come out inadvertently. According to a close source from OBR Hardware, the below graph shows what the single GPU behemoth from NVIDIA is capable of.

The 3DMark score sure is impressive to say the least, especially showing its prowess in the Fire Strike Extreme preset, but at the end of the day this is just one synthetic benchmark. Real world gaming performance can vary quite a lot, perhaps not performing as close to the GTX 690 as shown here.

We’ll have more on NVIDIA’s latest flagship card in the coming weeks (or days!), so be sure to check back for more.

Kingston HyperX Predator USB 3.0 512GB Review

The Kingston HyperX Predator USB 3.0 flash drive is the kind of stuff we used to dream about a decade back, or even a couple of years ago. Capacity was never that much of a problem with USB drives, what with microSD cards giving us ridiculous storage for its size. It was always about speed.

With the advent of USB 3.0 and the promise of up to 10 times more speed than USB 2.0, having a respectably fast flash drive with large capacity became a reasonable hope. And Kingston became the first company in the world to come out with a massive 512GB USB 3.0 flash drive, the 1TB version coming out within a month or two.

Packaging

Make no mistake, the Kingston HyperX Predator 512GB is a premium flash drive with high capacity, performance and a commanding price that follows. It comes in a flashy tin box with a USB 3.0 extension cables. This is crucial for PCs that don’t have the type of breadth required to use the Hyper Predator directly. Out of the box the HyperX Predator 512GB comes preformatted in FAT32 format with 479GB available, that’s 93.5% available of actual usable space.

So let’s see how well the HyperX Predator 512GB performs in both real life tests and synthetic benchmarks. But before that, our testbed:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2600K

Motherboard: MSI Z77 MPower

Hard Drive: Plextor M3 Pro 256GB SSD

OS:Windows 8 Pro

Synthetic Benchmarks

While CrystalDisk Mark shows performance higher than what Kingston themselves rate (240MBps Read and 160MBps write), ATTO shows a slighly different story, with half the rated write speed, although read speed seems to be close to rated speeds.

Real Life Test

Copying a 15.7 GB file of Battlefield 3 from my C: Drive to the HyperX Predator 512GB took 119 seconds, giving an average write speed of 135MBps.

Conversely when copying the 15.7GB Battlefield 3 folder from the HyperX Predator 512GB to my desktop it took 79 seconds, giving an average read speed of 203MBps.

Conclusion

So the Kingston HyperX Predator certainly lives up to its name. As of now there is no USB 3.0 stick we have tested in our labs that outperforms it, rather even come close to its performance.  With a solid build and premium look, the HyperX Predator feels excellent in hand. Sure, it’s a little inconvenient to use the extension cable in tightly spaced USB ports, but not really a deal breaker.

What it comes down to is whether you’re willing to shell out the price of an entry-level ultrabook or a mid-level laptop for a USB flash drive. Actually the price is similar to 512GB SSDs.

Right now nobody in the world has what Kingston does, and so they can charge a premium for it. Once the 1TB model is out, with other manufacturers following suit, I’m sure prices will come down to something more easier to swallow. For now, the Kingston HyperX Predator is the Bugatti Veyron of USB flash drives.

BlackBerry Z10 has best launch ever in Canada & UK

February 10, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Smartphones

BlackBerry’s new Z10 handset is being watched by the whole industry too see whether the much troubled firm can rise to it’s former glory days. To that end the new Z10 comes with a whole lot of promise and indeed in our own review we found it to be quite a capable and competitive modern smartphone.

While we don’t have actual numbers, BlackBerry’s CEO Thorsten Heins told Phonearena, “In Canada, yesterday was the best day ever for the first day of a launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone. In fact, it was more than 50 percent better than any other launch day in our history in Canada. In the UK, we have seen close to three times our best performance ever for the first week of sales for a BlackBerry smartphone.”

The BlackBerry Z`0 officially launches today in UAE available from all major retail stores for AED 2,599 or with du and Etisalat on contract.

AMD confirms no HD 8000 series till Q4 2013

February 9, 2013 by  
Filed under News

In a recent tweet AMD’s marketing manager has confirmed that the company will not be releasing the much anticipated HD 8000 series of graphics cards this year, but instead will focus on the existing HD 7000 series. The HD 8000 series currently being advertised by OEMs is just a rebranding of the existing hardware with, presumably, minor clock speed bumps. The marketing campaign for the “Never Settle Bundle” will continue on.

The true HD 8000, it seems, won’t be out till Q4 of this year as seen from the roadmap chart released on 4gamer. For the mean time AMD will be focusing instead on their 28nm GPU architecture which will be used in the upcoming next-gen consoles, most likely the PS4.

Yandex surpasses Bing as 4th globally used search engine

February 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Industry, News

In a recent report released by comScore’s qSearch results yields some rather interesting data as far as search engines are concerned. It seems that in November and December of 2012, the global search queries done on Microsoft’s Bing were surpassed by the Russian search engine Yandex.

 

In their market analysis comScore includes all Microsoft sites such as Hotmail, Windows Live, etc. Although Bing accounts for the largest share with 92% usage for search queries. And where Microsoft’s entire network accounted for 4.477 billion queries worldwide, Yandex surpassed it by 4.844 billion. Obviously Google is still the king with a massive 114.73 billion searches worldwide, followed in the distance by China’s search engine Baidu with 14.5 billion searches and Yahoo! coming in third with 8.63 billion searches worldwide.

It is surely is interesting to see that where Microsoft with all of their marketing might was still struggling to reach fourth place in the global search markets, the relatively unknown Russian firm came out of nowhere and has now claimed title for fourth place. How long till Yahoo! is also passed by, or perhaps even the mighty Google loosing its share?

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